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A defence of analyticity

Tait, D.I.; (2011) A defence of analyticity. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

There is prima facie reason to suppose that there are analytic truths, our knowledge of which is explained simply by our understanding them. One recent line of argument challenges this view on the grounds that, for any given proposition, it is always possible to understand it without knowing it. If understanding is to explain our knowledge of certain truths, then, how is it possible for someone to understand them and yet fail to know them? We can accommodate these cases of disagreement by construing the epistemic state in which a subject is placed by understanding an analytic truth as one of being in a position to know. In understanding an analytic truth, a subject may have the epistemic resources required for knowledge and yet be unable to exploit this position; this allows for the possibility that in those cases where a subject does know such a truth, the knowledge is explained by the subject’s understanding. This sense of being in a position to know receives support from the need for such a notion in describing certain features of our perceptual knowledge. Understanding an analytic truth enables a subject to recognise that its truth-conditions must be fulfilled. This is ultimately made possible by there being certain propositions that have the status of structuring the linguistic practice in which the subject participates. These propositions are held fixed as we evaluate the possible ways that the world could be and so come out as true in all possible worlds. A subject who is sufficiently integrated within the practice and who understands an analytic truth is thereby in a position to recognise its status within the practice. Using this model we can identify two kinds of disagreement consistent with the claim that understanding an analytic truth puts one in a position to know it.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:A defence of analyticity
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy

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