Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism
Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism appears on my reading list about once every 6 months. I admit to my dilettante status in regards to these matters, but Quine seems so concerned with semantic issues that he overlooks other analytical issues. Those regular consumers of Contingencies who care about such things might recall that the analytic/synthetic divide originates with Kant:
"Either (1) the predicate B belongs to the subject A as something that is (covertly) contained in this concept A; or (2) B lies entirely outside the concept A, though to be sure it stands in connection with it. In the first case, I call the judgment analytic, in the second synthetic."
Two examples which show the difference to some degree:
"Lawyers are attorneys" is 1 (analytic--synonymous in broad sense)
"Lawyers are professionals" is 2 (synthetic--or empirical in broad sense)
Quine denied the distinction. But there's more to it, it would seem. For instance, are logical connectives to be defined synthetically--Is the premise of an argument no different than the conclusion? Obviously the end result of a derivation or deductive argument is not the same as confirming a premise: and defining a variable is not the same as say putting some variable into a function and getting a result.
There is a difference-- fairly important difference--between working towards a deductive truth via equations, functions, reductio ad absurdum, etc., and, on the other hand, establishing "truth" via empirical confirmation, whether in a chemistry lab or economics research paper. But specifying the cash value of analyticity is not so easy. Even a hard-core materialist or behaviorist, say like Skinner, needs to establish his own ontology, and thus needs to know what he is attacking. If you do deny analyticity and really platonic realism and "mind" it does seem that a Darwinian meat popsicle view of human nature follows, or at least is much more plausible.
So, in effect, we are not completely sure what Quine's removal of the analytical/syntheic divide "entails" as the good Panglosses say. Is it just semantic and linguistic--that "meaning" (or reference) must proceed by synthetic means (observation, really)? I follow his linguistics to a degree: the definitions of words are always changing (if not ostensible in many cases), thus it is not impossible that "lawyers are attorneys" (analytic) may be, eventually, as synthetic as say a "lawyers are corrupt."
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