The first paradox of analysis

The paradox of analysis (or, in this context, the first paradox of analysis) can be illustrated by the following pairs of sentences: (1) To be an instance of knowledge is to be an instance of justified true belief not essentially grounded in any falsehood (2) To be an instance of knowledge is to be an instance of knowledge and (1*) To be a vixen is to be a female fox (2*) To be a vixen is to be a vixen Recall the point of an analysis is to illuminate what something is in order to better understand that thing and, by extension, the world and the conceptual framework whereby one understands it However, if the concept of justified true belief not essentially grounded in any falsehood is the analysans of the concept of knowledgeand to be a female fox is the analysans of the concept of vixenit would seem that they are the same concept and hence that (2) and (2*) would have to be the same proposition as (1) and (1*) respectively terms that express the same concept are substitutable salva veritate in all contexts but (1) and (2) (and (1*) and (2*)) clearly seem to be different propositions (2) is trivial for one thing (understanding it entails believing it), while (1) can be informative This paradox rests on the assumption that analysis is a relation wholly between concepts, rather than one between entities of other sorts, such as linguistic expressions and the assumption that in a correct analysis, analysans and analysandum will be the same concept these are very plausible assumptions, consider: when providing an analysis, one is concerned with concepts, those mental tools that one relies on to organize and, thus, to make sense of the world, rather than the arbitrary signs (scribbles or noises) that one makes when organizing the world moreover, given that a concept is the mental means one has of recognizing and differentiating a kind of thing in the world, whatever analysis one gives of that concept has to enable one to recognize and differentiate those and only those very things, otherwise one has gotten the original concept wrong (or so it seems) And these assumptions are present in classic writings on analysis

Ackerman attempts to resolve the first paradox of analysis by denying this second assumption, to wit, she denies that analysans and analysandum have to be the same concept in a correct analysis Instead, in a correct analysis the analysans and analysandum are distinct concepts that are necessarily and apriori knowable to be coextensive and meet the epistemic condition characterized below [T]he additional relation beyond necessary and a priori knowable co-extensiveness between an analysans and an analysandum of the appropriate sort has to do with cognitive relations between the concepts involved, without being so strong as to constitute identity between the concepts. I draw upon something that is epistemically unique about philosophical analyses of the sort under consideration-the way they are arrived at and tested for correctness. The analytical relation between the concept knowledge and the concept JTB is arrived at and tested by the philosophical example-and- counterexample method, which in general terms goes as follows. The person whose concept is being tested (and who can but need not be identical with the person performing the test) is presented with a series of simple described hypothetical situations and then asked questions of the form If such-and- such were the case, would you still say this was a case of knowledge? The tester then generalizes from the series of answers in an attempt to get at the general properties that enter into the analysans of the subjects concept of knowledge. (Ackerman 1981) this sort of solution seems apt because the concepts involved in (1) and (2) and (1*) and (2*) do seem to be distinct the concept of knowledge is easily grasped; the concept of justified true belief not essentially grounded in any falsehood is not (or is less so) the former concept is used by lots of people, the latter only by professional philosophers or, similarly, the concept of female fox is widely used, the concept of a vixen is less so So Ackermans solution to the paradox of analysis is basically this: when doing conceptual analysis, do not look for an analysans that is identical to the analysandum, just find one that is necessarily and apriori knowable coextensive with the analysandum and that performs suitably well in the example-and- counterexample method Ok, so is this an adequate solution to the paradox of analysis? Well, it can account for why (1) and (2) and (1*) and (2*) are different propositionsthey involve different concepts But can it account for why conceptual analysis would be worth doing in the first place? Its hard to see how it can. If one is in a position to give a conceptual analysis, one must understand the analysandum pretty well in the first place; its hard to see, then, what is gained by doing the analysis. But if one does not understand the analysandum very well, one is not going to be able to get anywhere via this method

Consider the concept of a carburetor, consider the concept of love or of justice


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