Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium


Sam Hillier
  UC Irvine

"The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction in Carnap's Logical Syntax of Language"


Much can be learnt about Carnap's logical empiricism at the time of Logical Syntax by examining his responses to Quine's criticisms of the analytic/synthetic distinction.  This distinction is in many ways central to Carnap's philosophy, so his defense of it should be illuminating.  Prominent historian Thomas Ricketts has offered an interpretation of Logical Syntax that is based upon these responses, however the picture that emerges from his work is incomplete.  There are significant projects in and around Logical Syntax that cannot be accounted for on this view.  Another interpretation, offered by Michael Friedman and Alan Richardson and also based upon Carnap's responses to Quine, does claim to account for the projects that Ricketts misses.  However, the position that Friedman and Richardson describe is in conflict with the responses that they give to Quine.  These authors are too hasty to assimilate Carnap to a neo-Kantian position, and by doing so they are lead to misappropriate Ricketts' response to Quine.  We are left with a reading that is either incomplete or inconsistent.  The point of my talk today is to clarify what exactly is going on in Logical Syntax.  What is Carnap up to, and what role does the analytic/synthetic distinction play in this work?  These questions I answer by proposing that Carnap need not be understood as exclusively engaged in the projects outlined by Ricketts or Friedman/Richardson.  Rather, I offer a new perspective for understanding Carnap's philosophy, that of "linguistic engineering."

Friday, December 1, 2006
SST 318
3 pm

Refreshments will be served