Putnam’s idea was that, out at the edge of the web, and hence connected to nothing very much, there is a fringe of ‘one-criterion’ concepts. Criteria are ways of telling, so you’re a one-criterion concept only if there is just one way to tellthat you apply. BACHELOR qualifies because the only way to tell whether Jones is a bachelor is by finding out if he’san unmarried man. TUESDAY qualifies because the only way to tell that it’s
Tuesday is by finding out if it’s the second day of the week. And so on. Well, according to Putnam, if a concept has, in this sense, only one criterion, then it is conceptually necessary (viz. constitutive of the content of the concept) that ifthe criterion is satisfied then the concept applies. So there is, after all, an epistemic clause in the theory of conceptconstitutivity. Old timers will recognize this treatment of BACHELOR and the like as close kin to the then-populartheory that DOG, CAUSE, PAIN, FORCE, WATER, INFLUENZA, and the like are “cluster” concepts. In effect, acluster concept is one for whose application there are lots of criteria.
So, then, according to Putnam, analyticity just is one-criterionhood. The problems with this account by now seem pretty obvious; we’ll return to them in a moment. First, however, a word or two in its praise.
To begin with, it deconfounds analyticity from centrality, thereby freeing embarrassed Quineans from having to assimilate bachelors are unmarried to F = MA. It also deconfounds analyticity from mere necessity in a way that intuitionapplauds. As I remarked above, it‘s necessary that bachelors are unmarried, and it’s again necessary that two is prime,but only the first seems to be a good candidate for a conceptual necessity since one isn’t much tempted by the thoughtthat not having the concept PRIME entails not having the concept TWO. Putnam’s story works very well here. It isprecisely because two is enmeshed in a rich—indeed an infinite—network of necessities that one hesitates to chooseamong them the ones that constitute the content of the concept. Given the plethora of necessary inferences that TWOcan mediate, who’s to say which ones your having the concept requires that you acknowledge? Similarly with the logicalparticles. And similarly, too, for FORCE and DOG (though the necessities that embed these concepts arecharacteristically metaphysical and/or nomic rather than mathematical or logical). In short, the less work a conceptdoes, the stronger the analyticity intuitions that it is able to support; just as Putnam’s account of conceptualconnectedness predicts.
And since being well connected to the web, like being near the web’s centre, is a matter of degree, Putnam’s story explains straight off why intuitions of analyticity are graded. Nobody seriously doubts that bachelors being unmarriedis a better candidate for analyticity than dogs being animals, which is in turn a better candidate than F’s being MA,which is in turn at least as bad a candidate as two’s being prime. The gradedness of analyticity intuitions suggests somesort of epistemic construal if the alternative explanation is that they arise from such structural relations amongconcepts as containment. Containment, unlike criteriality, doesn’t plausibly come in more or less.
So there are nice things to be said for Putnam’s account of analyticity, and I suppose that Quine’s sympathizers would have jumped at it exceptthat it is, alas, hopelessly circular. Putnam’s ‘one criterion’ test does no work unless a way to count criteria is supplied.But you can‘t count what you can’t individuate, and there looks to be no principle of individuation for criteria thatdoesn’t presuppose the notion of analyticity. Does ‘bachelor’ have one criterion (viz. unmarried man) or two (viz. unmarriedman and not married man)? That depends, inter alia, on whether “unmarried man” and “not married man” are synonyms.But if there are troubles about understanding analyticity there are the same troubles about understanding synonymy,the two being trivially interdefinable (as Quine rightly remarked in “Two dogmas”). So, it looks as though Putnam’sconstrual of analytic connection in terms of one-criterion concept leaves us back where we started; in a tight circle ofinterdefined semantic-cum-conceptual vocabulary.Jean-marc pizano