Thursday, February 23, 2006

Semantics:pragmatics::analytic:synthetic?

Today in the philosophy of language seminar, Ken wrapped things up by posing a novel way of looking at the semantics-pragmatics distinction. Can we view the semantics-pragmatics distinction as the same distinction as analytic-synthetic, broadly construed? What we are concerned with is isolating the things that are true in virtue of their meaning, i.e. broadly analytic. This will be a very different notion of `analytic' than was espoused by older philosophers, but it sounds somewhat right. Similarly, Quine's arguments against the analytic-synthetic distinction were (in the presented interpretation) that since one could not provide a clear demarcation between the two, there was no demarcation between the two. This is supposedly analogous to the arguments put forward by Cappelan and Lepore that either all or no sentences express propositions. I will have to think about this to see whether it seems right, but it is a nice way of looking at the debate. Has any progress been made since Quine?