Events

Philosophy Colloquium
Robert Hanna, University of Colorado at Boulder

Abstract

As I will understand it, the analytic-synthetic distinction (or the A-S distinction for short) is the categorically sharp contrast between

  1. truth in virtue of conceptual content, always taken together with some things in the world beyond conceptual content, although never in virtue of those worldly things (=analytic truth), and

  2. truth in virtue of things in the world beyond conceptual content, always taken together with some conceptual content, although never in virtue of conceptual content (=synthetic truth).

And as I will understand it, the phrase ‘in virtue of’ means: “essentially because of, although not exclusively because of.”

Granting all that, in this paper, I want to tell the thrilling three-part story of how the A-S distinction departed from mainstream Analytic philosophy, not with a bang but a whimper, why the A-S distinction must now return with a bang, and what that bang must sound like. More precisely, however, I will argue that for contemporary Kantian and contemporary mainstream Analytic philosophers alike, if we are not to become The Hollow People, lacking any adequate conception of human rationality (whether cognitive rationality or practical rationality) in virtue of our lacking the very idea of a semantic content, which in turn presupposes the A-S distinction, it is now rationally obligatory for us to bring about the return of a fully intelligible and defensible A-S distinction.