Something like that went on in philosophy too. Philosophers cared about definitions because they offered a handy construal of the thesis that inferential connections are sometimes intrinsic to the concepts that enter into them: viz.complex concepts are constituted by their inferential relations to the concepts in their definitions. Correspondingly, philosophicalaffection for definitions waned when intrinsic conceptual connectedness fell into disrepute (as it did in the US inconsequence of Quine’s strictures on analyticity) and when epistemological construals of intrinsic conceptualconnectedness bade fare to displace semantic ones (as they did in the UK in the criteriological philosophy ofWittgenstein and his followers).
Philosophers do like the idea of there being lots of intrinsic connections among concepts; even philosophers who think there aren’t any often sort of wish that there were. The idea is that an inference that constitutes the concepts whichenter into it can be known a priori to be sound. Andinferences that can be known a priori to be sound are prized by philosophers because they are useful for boppingsceptics over the head with. Thus:
Sceptic. You can‘t ever infer with certainty from how things look to how they are.
Antisceptic. Can too, because there is an intrinsic conceptual connection between how-things-look concepts and how-things-are concepts (between behaviour-concepts and mind-concepts; between is-concepts and ought-concepts, etc. etc.). Bop. I win.
Sceptic. I don’t acknowledge such intrinsic connections.
Antisceptic. Then you don’t have the concepts! Bop. I still win.
And even philosophers who don’t care much about scepticism sometimes get hooked on intrinsic conceptual connectedness out of their concern for full employment. What else but constitutive connections among concepts isthere for a philosophical analysis to be the philosophical analysis of? And, if there are no philosophical analyses, whatare analytic philosophers for?
In short, when philosophers opt for definitions it’s usually less because they’re independently convinced that the theory of language or the theory of mind requires them than because constitutive conceptual connectedness seems worthhaving if buying into definitions is the cost. There may be some other way to get such connections (see Appendix 5A),but definitions are a convenient way, and one which, unlike criteriology, can be scrupulous about keeping epistemologyout of semantics.
So, if you’re interested in what philosophers have to say that bears on whether concepts are definitions, it’s their discussions of conceptual connectedness that are most likely to be relevant. These days, what one often hears listeningin on such discussions is some version of the following line of thought.
—It’s right that you can’t infer that there are intrinsic conceptual connections simply from the premiss that if there were, they would be useful for antisceptical employment.
—However, Quine’s arguments that there are no such connections aren’t conclusive; in fact, nobody seems to be able to agree about exactly what Quine’s arguments are.
—There is a field of data for the explanation of which the notion of intrinsic conceptual connection appears to be well suited. These data include intuitions that certain propositions are analytic (hence necessary, hence apriori). Paradigms are no bachelors are married, Tuesdays precede Wednesdays, and so on. There are, as you’d expect,also the corresponding intuitions about concept possession.; no one who lacked the concept MARRIED couldhave the concept BACHELOR; no one who lacked the concept WEEKDAY or the concept WEDNESDAYcould have the concept TUESDAY, and so on. This is all as it should be. If a connection between two conceptsis constitutive, you can’t have the one unless you have the other.
—Given that there are these intuitions, we are justified in appealing to a notion of intrinsic conceptual connectedness as a sort of theoretical posit, even if we can’t produce a satisfactory account of such connectionscash in hand.
—Maybe whatever explication of intrinsic conceptual connection proves, eventually, to account for these intuitions will correspondingly elucidate such notions as definition, analyticity, aprioricity, and the rest. Maybe it will even dosome work against sceptics, who knows? Anyhow, since the intuitions are strong and the a priori argumentsagainst analyticity aren’t conclusive, it’s not reasonable to take for granted that there are no intrinsic conceptualconnections.Jean-marc pizano