analytic and synthetic

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analytic and synthetic

(PHILOSOPHY) the distinction drawn between two types of statement or propositions:
  1. those which are true by virtue of the meanings of the terms they contain (e.g. ‘all clergymen are male’) – analytic, or logically necessary truths;
  2. those which are true or false only by virtue of their empirical content, and not logically implied by the meanings of the terms the statement contains (e.g. the statement which may or may not be true: that ‘50% of clergymen like ice-cream’) -synthetic, contingent, or purely ‘empirical’ statements.

Often the distinction between the two kinds of statement has been regarded as one that admits of no exceptions. Some philosophers, however, notably Quine, have challenged this assumption, suggesting among other things that the distinction rests on unwarranted assumptions about consistency in the meanings of terms (see also DUHEM-QUINE THESIS).

In practice, in sociology, as in physical science, the production of knowledge involves both the formal definition of concepts, and statements of the logical relation between these, as well as the empirical testing of these relations. Theory and research in sociology moves between one and the other, with concepts being restated as the result of‘empirical’ evidence, and the framing and interpretation of empirical evidence being altered as the outcome of changes in conceptualizations. It remains important to try to be clear when any additions to knowledge proposed depend mainly on the logical extension of an established conceptual scheme, or when these arise more from new empirical evidence. But that both of these processes can be important in the development of knowledge must be recognized, and a hard-and-fast distinction between the two realms is not one that can be sustained.


Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
The paper identifies metaphysical motives underwriting Kant's analytic-synthetic distinction. Kant denies the reducibility of his synthetic to analytic judgments by conceptual analysis.
Murphey's volume continues this recent trend by providing a detailed account of Quine's philosophical development from his early days at Oberlin, through his famous midcentury critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction, and ending with the last revisions to his philosophy.
Ben-Menahem claims that Quine's critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction is anchored in his holistic model of language and his underdetermination thesis.
Among his topics are meaning and normativity in nurse-patient interaction, the analytic-synthetic distinction and conceptual analyses of basic health concepts, and the ethical dimension of paramedic-patient interaction.
The precise way an analytic-synthetic distinction should be understood or drawn was also a significant source of concern to him, and it too resulted in fruitful Center discussions.
In 1951, W V Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" shook English-speaking philosophy to its core by discrediting the strict analytic-synthetic distinction, puncturing a barrier between factual and conceptual inquiry.
Katz, "Where Things Now Stand With the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction," Synthese 28 (1974): p.
The very idea of separating logic and mathematics from natural science by convention violates Quine's restrictions on truth by convention as well as his repudiation of the analytic-synthetic distinction. We think that Azzouni's nominalism is fundamentally a bold attempt to recast Quine's apparent platonism in terms more appealing to the average mathematician.
After a chapter on the paradox of analysis, which separates the cognitive recognition of an analysis from its content, and a chapter on psychologism and language, which separates analysis from linguistic meaning, McGinn tackles the analytic-synthetic distinction. The chapter largely consists of a trashing of Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism." Unfortunately, McGinn's focus is on the paper's first part, which is indeed perhaps undeserving of its fame.
I am specifically interested in how previous research investigated the role that behaviorism plays in Quine's philosophy of language, Quine's empiricist rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction, his naturalized epistemology, and his meaning holism in the form of the indeterminacy of translation.
This view is a consequence of Quine's well-known dismantling of the analytic-synthetic distinction, here characterized as a distinction between language as a neutral structure of expression and theoretical commitment to sentences of that structure (39).
See Morton White's Toward Reunion in Philosophy (1956) for what is still the best account of the gradual reconciliation of Deweyan naturalism with logical empiricism, a reconciliation facilitated by Quine's criticism of the analytic-synthetic distinction, and by Wittgenstein's scorn for his earlier conviction that logic is "something sublime."
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