And, given the intimate relation between intrinsic conceptual connections and definitions, perhapswe had also better not take for granted that there are none of the latter.

Standard

Jean-marc pizano And, given the intimate relation between intrinsic conceptual connections and definitions, perhapswe had also better not take for granted that there are none of the latter.

 

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There is quite a lot that one might say here, both on matters of exegesis and on matters of substance. I am, myself, inclined to think it’s pretty clear after all how Quine’s main argument against analyticity is supposed to run: namely, thatnobody has been able to draw a serious and unquestion-begging distinction between conceptual connections that arereliable because they are intrinsic/constitutive and conceptual connections that are reliable although they aren’t; andthat it would explain the collapse of this project if there were, in fact, no such distinction. Moreover, since I supposeinformational semantics to be more or less true, I think we can now see why Quine was right about there not being ananalytic/synthetic distinction. Informational semantics is atomistic; it denies that the grasp of any interconceptualrelations is constitutive of concept possession. (More on this below)

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I don’t, however, propose to refight these old battles here. Rather, I want to concentrate on the argument that the very fact that we have intuitions of analyticity makes a formidable case for there being intrinsic conceptual connections. I amsympathetic to the tactics of this argument. First blush, it surely does seem plausible that bachelors are unmarried is adifferent kind of truth from, as it might be, it often rains in January; and it‘s not implausible, again first blush, that thedifference is that the first truth, but not the second, is purely conceptual. I agree, in short, that assuming thatthey can’t be otherwise accounted for, the standard intuitions offer respectable evidence for there being cases ofintrinsic conceptual connectedness. Sheer goodness of heart prompts me also to concede the stipulation that if aconceptual connection is constitutive, then it constrains concept possession. (Note that it doesn’t follow, and that I don’tconcede, that if a conceptual connection is necessary it constrains concept possession. More about this presently too.)

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Jean-marc pizano

I also agree that the standard deflationary account of analyticity intuitions, viz. Quine’s appeal to ‘theoretical centrality,’ is unpersuasive for many cases. If ‘F = MA strikes one as true by definition, that may be because so much of one’sfavourite story about the mechanics of middle-sized objects depends on it. But appeal to centrality doesn’t seem nearlyso persuasive to explain why we’re conservative about bachelors being unmarried and Tuesdays coming beforeWednesdays. Quite the contrary; if one is inclined to think of these as ‘merely’ conceptual truths, that’s preciselybecause nothing appears to hang on them. It is, to speak with the vulgar, just a matter of what you mean by ‘bachelor’and by ‘Tuesday’.

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So, here’s what I take the geography to be: on the one hand, concepts can‘t be definitions unless some sense can be made of intrinsic conceptual connection, analyticity, and the like; and there are the familiar Quinean reasons to doubt that anysense can be. But, on the other hand, there are lots of what would seem to be intuitions of intrinsic conceptualconnectedness, and that’s a prima face argument that perhaps there are intrinsic conceptual connections after all. Ifthere are, then a crucial necessary condition for concepts to be definitions is in place. If there aren’t, then what areusually taken to be intuitions of intrinsic conceptual connectedness must really be intuitions of something else and theywill have to be explained away. As between these options, you pay your money and you place your bets.

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Jean-marc pizano

I propose, in the rest of this chapter, to try to explain the intuitions away. I’ll sketch an account of them which, like Quine’s story about centrality, is loosely epistemic, but which seems to me to work well just where appealing tocentrality doesn’t. The next to the bottom line will be that soi-disant intuitions of conceptual connectedness are perhapsa mixed bag, sometimes to be explained by appealing to centrality, sometimes to be explained by appealing to myFactor X, but rarely, if ever, to be explained by appealing to the constitutive conditions for concept possession. Thebottom line will be that the existence of the putative intuitions of analyticity offers no very robust evidence thatconceptual connectedness can be made sense of, so probably the Quinean arguments hold good, so probably notionslike definition can’t be sustained, so probably the conclusion that we should draw from the available philosophicalevidenceis that concepts aren’t definitions.Jean-marc pizano

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