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Russell, Gillian. The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
2014, Philosophy Compass 2(5): 712–729.
Added by: Giada Fratantonio and Berta Grimau
Abstract: Once a standard tool in the epistemologist’s kit, the analytic/synthetic distinction was challenged by Quine and others in the mid-twentieth century and remains controversial today. But although the work of a lot contemporary philosophers touches on this distinction – in the sense that it either has consequences for it, or it assumes results about it – few have really focussed on it recently. This has the consequence that a lot has happened that should affect our view of the analytic/synthetic distinction, while little has been done to work out exactly what the effects are. All these features together make the topic ideal for either a survey or research seminar at the graduate level: it can provide an organising theme which justifies a spectrum of classic readings from Locke to Williamson, passing though Kant, Frege, Carnap, Quine and Kripke on the way, but it could also provide an excuse for a much more narrowly construed research seminar which studies the consequences of really contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics for the distinction

Comment: This paper can be used as introductory/background reading on the topic of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the famous Quinean critique to it. Suitable for an advance course on philosophy of language or a specialised course on the analytic/synthetic distinction. It can also be used in a course on the history of analytic philosophy.

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