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The Linguistic Doctrine Revisited

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At present, there is an almost universal consensus that the linguistic doctrine of logical necessity is grotesque. This paper explores avenues for rehabilitating a limited version of the doctrine, according to which the special status of analytic statements like 'All vixens are female' is to be explained by reference to language. Far from being grotesque, this appeal to language has a respectable philosophical pedigree and chimes with common sense, as Quine came to realize. The problem lies in developing it in a way that avoids the powerful objections facing previous versions of the linguistic doctrine. I argue tentatively that this can be done by reconciling Wittgenstein's claim that such statements have a normative role with Carnap's concession that they are true.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2003


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