Chomsky on Analytic and Necessary Propositions

Enrico Cipriani


My aim is to critically discuss Chomsky’s position concerning the analytic-synthetic distinction and necessary propositions. To do so, I present Chomsky’s objection to Quine’s criticism of the analytic-synthetic distinction, and I point out that Chomsky’s defense of such a distinction can be efficacious only under the assumption of conceptual innateness. I then focus on Chomsky’s analysis of necessary propositions. In particular, I present Chomsky’s objection to Kripke’s essentialism, and Chomsky’s hypothesis that the distinction between necessary and contingent truths is determined by the structure of the conceptual system and its relations with other systems of common-sense understanding. I highlight that this hypothesis is not compatible with Chomsky’s own objection to Kripke.


Analytic-Synthetic distinction; “humbler” notion of analyticity; Innateness Hypothesis; essential properties; conceivability and possibility; categorization

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