Does Quine's critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction also apply to

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Does Quine's critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction also apply to circular definitions? For example: a 'bachelor' is an 'unmarried male' seems analytic, and 'bachelor' and 'unmarried male' are synonyms. But consider: 'condescension' means a 'patronizing' attitude. Of course, 'condescension' and 'patronizing' are defined in terms of each other. Are all definitions that are circular in this way still susceptible to Quine's critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction, because they trade on the synonymy of the definiens and definienda?

This question reflects what I think is a widespread conception of Quine's critique, which is that it applies to ordinary colloquial language. Quine actually went much further than that. He was fundamentally skeptical of synonymity as well, and thought he could cast doubt even on the idea that you could stipulate synonymity, by setting up, say, an axiom system or, on a less formal basis, local "meaning postulates." You can regiment all you like, but you can't control what becomes of your regimentations; the most eloquent recent articulation of this view, in endlessly fascinating scientific detail, is Mark Wilson's work (see esp. his book Wandering Significance). So the answer to the question is "yes."

Quine didn't think in the local "circularity" terms in which the question is posed; he considered all human knowledge, starting with the most elementary common-sense knowledge and reaching to the most abstract representations of theoretical physics, to be one gigantic reciprocally-supportive circle.

I think it's hard to argue with Quine's case where colloquial language is concerned, even if you take away the behaviorist viewpoint he brings to bear, most notoriously in his demand for a "behavioral criterion" of synonymity. But where stipulations are concerned I'm less convinced. Almost any contract, for instance, contains a list of defined terms, and these stipulated synonymities are universally upheld by courts in the sense that they are practically never questioned. The legal profession might thus be held, by Quine's criteria, to accept an analytic-synthetic distinction along with a robust form of stipulated synonymity, and indeed to require such a distinction as a constitutive tool of its practice, just as Einstein said, in his lecture on "Geometry and Experience," that it was constitutive of his discovery of relativity.

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