Jean-marc pizano You would still have the worry which Tuesday-relatedconcepts are primitive and which are defined. Is it that Tuesday is the second day of the week (in which caseTUESDAY is the definiendum and . . . WEEK … is the definiens)? Or is it that a week is seven consecutive days, ofwhich the second is Tuesday (in which case, the primitive/defined relation goes the other way around)? The same sortof question crops up, of course, with regard to kinship terms, chess terms, and the like. Whenever you get a littlefamily of jargon vocabulary, the intuition is that the application of some of the terms depends on inferences from theapplicability of others, but that it doesn’t matter much which you take as primitive. It used to be that philosophersthought this decision might be made on the principle that the relatively primitive concept is the one that’s closer tosensations. These days, however, not even the friends of definitions think that this project has a prayer.44
My story about this says what I really do think one’s story ought to say: such questions haven’t got answers. What’s being delivered by (e.g.) the intuition that pawns are conceptually connected to queens is not the internal structure of aconcept (it’s not that the concept QUEEN has the concept PAWN as a constituent or vice versa). What you’reintuiting is really something epistemic: that the usual ways that PAWN gets semantic access to pawnhood all run viainferences involving one or other member of quite a small family. In consequence, although the connections of
PAWN to the other members of this family no doubt strike one as conceptual, none of these connections is intuited as clearly definitional rather than merely necessary; and none of the concepts involved is clearly intuited as primitiverather than defined. This situation would be paradoxical if the intuitions were detecting definitional relations. But theyaren’t, so it isn’t.
I’m suggesting that intuitions of conceptual connectedness are a sort of normal illusion; they depend on an understandable conflation between an epistemic property and a semantic one. In this respect, what I say aboutanalyticity intuitions is, of course, a lot like what Quine says; except that he takes the epistemic property to be centralitywhereas I think it’s one-criterionhood. I doubt that either story covers all the cases, and there’s no obvious reason whythey shouldn’t both be true. After all, the moral of both is that intuitions of analyticity are misguided; and, as Aristotlepointed out a while ago, there are generally lots of ways for an arrow to miss the target.
So, then, where have we got to? The best philosophical argument for analyticity used to be necessity/a prioricity (the tradition I have in mind generally didn’t distinguish between them). Positivism, in particular, took it for granted that apriori truths must be necessary, and that if there is necessity, it has to be linguistic/conceptual. Carnap and Quine splitthe available options between them. According to Carnap, some truths are necessary and a priori, so some must beanalytic. According to Quine, no truths are analytic, so none can be either necessary or a priori. It was, quite distinctly,a family squabble. Over the last several decades, however, it has come to seem increasingly implausible that necessarytruths could be analytic in the general case. Correspondingly, the best defence of analyticity now turns on a directappeal to intuition: some necessities strike one as conceptual; the analytic truths are the ones that elicit intuitions of thatsort.
No doubt, intuitions deserve respect. As Grice and Strawson pointed out (1956), if people agree that As are different from Bs, and if they agree on which is which in novel cases, that’s strong prima facie evidence As and Bs really aredifferent in some way or other. But thatAs and Bs are different is one thing; what they differ in is quite another. And, infact, the difference often turns out to be not at all what informants suppose. Informants, oneself included, can be quiteawful at saying what it is that drives their intuitions; sometimes it’s just a fragment of underdone potato.
This holds all the way from chicken sexing to judgements of grammatically and modality.Jean-marc pizano