Is the compound statement "every bachelor is a man without a wife and the Earth revolves around the Sun” (where "and" is a conjunction) synthetic or analytic?

Kant, for example, talks about a kind of conjunction, deeper than logical conjunction, that is related to synthesis. But otherwise conjunction is typically a logical operation, and Kant would have assimilated such to analysis. When it comes to disparate facts being united in one thought, then, is there a useful or at least stable way to apply the analytic/synthetic distinction to such a case?

  • 1
    The bachelor part of the conjuction is synthetic. The conjuction of a synthetic statement and either a synthetic or analytic statement yields a synthetic statement. Oct 3, 2023 at 17:09
  • 2
    Syntethic. The second part is not a definition. Oct 3, 2023 at 17:09
  • Since the two facts, such as they are, are not analytically combined, their combination is synthetical if anything as such. Or so it seems, though this then means that, "Every bachelor is unmarried and 2 is the successor of 3," is synthetical, too! Oct 3, 2023 at 17:47
  • It's an apparently random juxtaposition of a definition and an astronomic fact. One cannot call that a bona fide synthesis IMO, since the two statements have nothing to see with one another, and are just lumped together.
    – Olivier5
    Oct 3, 2023 at 22:14
  • A statement is called "synthetic" when it is not analytic, it need not involve any "synthesis", bona fide or otherwise. The term's meaning is a convention and is not determined by etymology. If you want to use "synthesis" loosely, for anything that goes beyond rephrasing definitions, your statement does require "synthesis" in the astronomical part, and that makes it synthetic as a whole, by convention.
    – Conifold
    Oct 4, 2023 at 5:17

2 Answers 2


From Quine's Two Dogmas:

"It is obvious that truth in general depends on both language and extralinguistic fact... Hence the temptation to suppose in general that the truth of a statement is somehow analyzable into a linguistic component and a factual component. Given this supposition, it next seems reasonable that in some statements the factual component should be null; and these are the analytic statements. But, for all its a priori reasonableness, a boundary between analytic and synthetic statements simply has not been drawn. That there is such a distinction to be drawn at all is an unempirical dogma of empiricists, a metaphysical article of faith."

Let's us presume Quine is excessive in his declaration that no distinction is drawn between the analytic and synthetic. For that to be the case, there must be a criterion. Instead of using predicate inhering to the subject, a linguistic approach, let us use Quine's own characterization, the containment of facticity in the proposition in question, with facticity carrying within it the notion of objectivity established through the normal empirical means. Thus, let us steal from Quine for a way to judge. Does the statement have within it, have any factual content?

"every bachelor is a man without a wife and the Earth revolves around the Sun”

If the statement is taken as a complex proposition with a logical connective between two simpler propositions, then I would suggest that the complex has factual content if one of it's components does and meets the criterion of being a synthetic statement. Let's see why this is a sensible conclusion.

Consider the case where the logic connective is not between two independent clauses, but rather we have a construction that is one independent clause with the material logic expressed by dependent clauses. To wit:

Bob the bachelor, a word which means he has no wife, believes that the earth goes around the sun.

Is this an analytic statement? Well certainly the dependent clause has a synonymous component by explicating on the meaning of bachelor using the anaphora that inheres in 'he'. But taken as a complete thought, it has factual knowledge in the form of the relationship of the earth's motion to the sun.

Thus by phrasing the criterion of analyticity about whether or not the proposition, complex or otherwise, contains facticity of any sort, we have a means of dealing with more complex constructions than simple SVO constructions.

What is more important to consider, however, is whether the analyticity of sentences, whether you accept or reject Quine's rationale regarding in the failure of adequate synonymy as a criterion, is metalinguistic characterization directed at an object language; is it not best understood as a constructive enterprise of description to stipulate a definition rather than the exercise of trying to discover a real definition of some imputed essence that inheres to subject/predicate language?

If you respond yes, then the determination of whether or not your sentence is analytical or synthetic is best understood as an exercise in convention building, and that comes with it a recognition that our strategy is normative and in service of the Wittgensteinian language-game. Thus, one can, as any good pluralist does, tolerate alternative responses to your question as long as they conform with good sense and practical outcome.


Perhaps the example illustrates (A) the inchoation of the analytical/synthetical distinction or (B) the relativity of the same. For example, assuming that both propositions are true enough, then it logically follows that their conjunction is true, so that the conjunction-as-whole turns out to be analytically justifiable to that extent. Or perhaps because one of the conjuncts is synthetically justifiable, this colors the whole conjunction.

Or the conjunction is half-analytical, half-synthetical! Or neither, really, but either something in the same family of descriptions yet heretofore not often set apart within the sphere of the distinction, or instead pertinent to a rather different sense of the matter. Say that A = analyticity, S = syntheticity, and X is some third/alternative descriptor, here; perhaps the conjunction is then of this X in character, whatever that might turn out to be.

Unfortunately, then, the question, while interesting, is hard to respond to in a well-cited way. I'm not going to vote to close the question, but I would understand if anyone did so at this time. At least, then, I myself am not aware of any material that might be cited in an SE-friendly response to the query, though my knowledge is rather limited and my own sense of the analytical/synthetical distinction has just barely, of late, begun to approach the possibility of a third class of propositions besides those that Kant so vividly indicated centuries ago.?

?There is an erotetic distinction between answers to what-questions that the analytical/synthetical distinction might be adapted to, in order to its (the latter dichotomy's) rehabilitation. Take, "What is 2 + 2/3?"?? I might say, "It is some other number," and this would be a "merely" analytical rejoinder. But if I say, "8/3," this is not so trivial, is it? Yet it is again hard for me to see how this trivial/nontrivial distinction might be adapted to conjunctions. Indeed, the logicality of conjunction is somewhat mysterious, in my eyes, aside from various systematic convertibility postulates in standard logic (e.g. De Morgan's Law).

??Or take, "Who is a bachelor?" Then, "An unmarried man is a bachelor," seems analytical, while, "Sam is a bachelor," comes across as synthetical.

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