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Years ago I stumbled upon a Wikipedia article on two logicians debating whether exact synonyms could exist. (was curious since an English professor emphatically stated they cannot exist, while I believe it is logically possible, but highly unlikely to actually encounter) They had a life long feud over this, and the last of them had his response set to be published by his estate after his opponent died. From there no one really cared about synonymy, and it was declared by the supporters of the other dude that it is impossible. Does anyone know which two people I am referring to? Which books this references?

I can't seem to find it again, and doing searches on Google with "Synonymy" brings up hundreds of thousands of dictionary pages just by including that world.

I can't remember much more. I think one was a logical positivist, and synonymy came up in an attempt to poke holes in it. It might be Quine and Carnap, but I believe the two feuding were actually minor figures.

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    $\begingroup$ Would you happen to remember any additional details about the two gentlemen involved? When did they live? Where did they live? I am not aware of any long-running scholarly disputes on the topic of synonymy, but the following frequently cited paper argued that no two words can be exact synonyms: Nelson Goodman, "On likeness of meaning." Analysis, Vol. 10, No. 1, Oct. 1949, pp. 1-7. Does that ring a bell? $\endgroup$ – njuffa Mar 18 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ talk about intellectual wanking! Here, I'll solve the debate. I hearby create the word "skyghrphy" which is defined as "identical in meaning to "calisthenics" . Done. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 18 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ @njuffa I can't remember much more. I think one was a logical positivist, and synonymy came up in an attempt to poke holes in it. It might be Quine and Carnap, but I believe the two feuding were actually minor figures. $\endgroup$ – ZeroPhase Mar 18 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroPhase It would be helpful to add that additional information to the question, as comments can disappear at any time on Stack Exchange sites. $\endgroup$ – njuffa Mar 18 at 20:27

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