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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Volume 57, Issue 2, June 1997

I. L. Humberstone
Pages 249-280

Two Types of Circularity

For the claim that the satisfaction of certain conditions is sufficient for the application of some concept to serve as part of the (‘reductive’) analysis of that concept, we require the conditions to be specified without employing that very concept. An account of the application conditions of a concept not meeting this requirement, we call analytically circular. For such a claim to be usable in determining the extension of the concept, however, such circularity may not matter, since if the concept figures in a certain kind of intensional context in the specification of the conditions, the satisfaction of those conditions may not itself depend on the extension of the concept. We put this by saying that although analytically circular, the account may yet not be inferentially circular.

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