The concepts that we put together are expressed using sentences. We are familiar with the five types of sentences: declarative (meant to express a statement), interrogative (meant to ask a question), imperative (meant to issue a command), expletive (meant to issue a wish) and exclamatory (meant to express surprise).
Sentences have no truth value. They are merely uttered as the verbal means of communicating or expressing commands, questions, emotions like surprise or pleasure, and wishes. For example, if somebody issues a simple interrogative sentence like, ‘What time is it?’ there is no point in asking whether or not it is true or false. There is no claim being made about the world, thus, it would be nonsensical to include an issue about truth or falsity. In the same manner, when somebody utters the simple exclamatory sentence, ‘Ouch!‘ Again, it would be nonsensical to ask the question “Is it true or false?” It is the statement expressed through a declarative sentence that has the element of truth or falsity, since there is a knowledge claim being made in a statement. Moreover, the same statement can be expressed using different sentences. For example, ‘Romeo loves Juliet,’ can be expressed as ‘Juliet is loved by Romeo.’
Types of Statements
Philosophers have considered it a necessary tool of analysis to classify two meaningful types of statements based on two sources that could be accepted and verified. Thus, they came up with two meaningful types which could be traced on the empiricist tradition of David Hume. This could be found in Hume’s article, Skeptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding. Following Hume’s tradition and was originally known as Hume’s Fork are statements about relations of ideas and matters of fact. These were the two meaningful types of statements and they are now known as analytic and empirical statements, respectively.
The truth or falsity of the knowledge claim being made by an analytic statement could be found within the statement itself. In other words, you do not have to go outside the statement to search whether the claim is true or false. When somebody claims that: ‘A bachelor is an unmarried male of marriageable age,’ one does not have to go outside of the statement to check for its truth or falsity. One would know right away that the statement is true upon examination of the key terms contained within the statement because the statement given is a definition of a bachelor. Supposing that you deny the statement and say that, ‘A bachelor is not an unmarried male,’ this statement would lead to absurdity and contradiction because you would be denying its definition.
Definitions and their derivatives, like ‘No bachelor has a mother-in-law‘ are considered as tautologous statements whose truths are contained within itself. That is, the predicate could be seen as being contained in the subject. It also means that you have not given additional information that is contingent or is dependent on the state of affairs in the world, aside from what is being used and accepted as a definition. An analytic statement like, ‘A kitten is a young cat.’ is obviously true by definition, but it would be a different matter to claim that ‘The kitten is on the mat,’ whose truth tautology — the saying of depends on whether or not the current state of affairs actually obtains in the world. By the same thing twice over mere analysis of the terms or concepts contained within the analytic statement, you in different words would be able to discover its truth or falsity. Furthermore, the denial of an analytic statement would lead to absurdity and contradiction. It would be absurd for us to deny that, ‘The sum of two and three is not five.’
Analytic statements are also known or identified as: truths of language, truths of reason, ‘is’ of identity, a priori, matters of logic, or formal statements.
Empirical statements are different from analytic statements because their truth or falsity depend on the state of affairs being claimed. Here, the knowledge claim being made is not dependent on definitions or tautologous statements whose truths are contained within itself, but the truth or falsity being claimed by an empirical statement rests on its correspondence with facts or with the current state of affairs being claimed. Thus, the earlier statement that ‘The sky is blue.‘ is an empirical statement whose truth depends on the additional information or claim being made. Its truth or falsity of statement would now depend on whether or not the state of affairs being described actually obtains at the moment.
Moreover, the denial of an empirical statement would not lead to absurdity and contradiction. The denial of the statement, ‘The kitten is not on the mat.‘ will not be absurd or contradictory because the state of affairs being described is one of the possibilities or contingencies happening in the empirical world. In other words, you are not appealing to definitions in making a claim; you are adding contingent information in the world about the kitten. Furthermore, you will not be able to discover the truth of the statement by mere analysis of the key terms contained therein. You have to go outside of the statement and to look and see whether the state of affairs being claimed actually corresponds with the empirical world.
Empirical statements are also known or identified as in philosophical literature as truths of fact, synthetic, matters of fact or a posteriori statements.