Analyticity and Epistemological Holism: Prague alternatives


  • Kenneth R. Westphal Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul
  • Paolo Parrini



In the early 1930’s Carnap and Quine met in Prague and discussed logic and philosophy. Carnap was working on the Logische Syntax der Sprache; when Quine went back to Harvard he published “Truth by Convention.” The purpose of the present paper is to establish three main points: (1) in “Truth by Convention” some important aspects of the future position Quine will assume about the analytic/synthetic and the a priori/a posteriori dichotomies are already expressed; (2) in the Logische Syntax der Sprache, Carnap maintains the distinction between L-rules and P-rules, at the same time being aware of the holistic character of empirical control and of the possibility to revise the acceptance of every kind of sentences; (3) Quine’s idea that the holistic conception requires completely abandoning the analytic/synthetic and a priori/a posteriori distinctions does not seem wholly correct. On the contrary, in the Logische Syntax Carnap takes a step forward in his conception of the “relativized a priori”. Thus, we can say that in the Prague years two alternative accounts of the theory/experience relation began to emerge. These two alternatives are still pivotal in the contemporary epistemological debate.





In memoriam