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Summary Traditionally, apriority and necessity were thought to be aligned: if a proposition is knowable a priori, it must also be necessary. This Cartesian dogma (also Leibniz, Kant) was questioned by Kripke, who proposed various contingent a priori truths, such as the famous case of the one-meter stick in Paris. The issue continues to be debated.
Key works The classic source is Kripke 1980, where the case for the contingent a priori is presented. Some influential contributions to the literature are Barnes 2007, Kitcher 1980, and Turri 2011.
Introductions Casullo 2012
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  1. Alice Ambrose (1974). Believing Necessary Propositions. Mind 83 (330):286-290.
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  2. C. Anthony Anderson (1993). Toward a Logic of A Priori Knowledge. Philosophical Topics 21 (2):1-20.
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  3. E. Andreansky (1996). Apriority and Necessity in Kripke'naming and Necessity'. Filozofia 51 (5):319-330.
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  4. Yuval Avnur (2011). Hawthorne on the Deeply Contingent A Priori1. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (1):174-183.
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  5. Jason Baehr (2003). Necessity and Rational Insight. Journal of Philosophical Research 28:361-370.
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  6. Derek Ball & Bryan Pickel (2013). One Dogma of Millianism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):70-92.
    Millians about proper names typically claim that it is knowable apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. We argue that they should claim instead that it is knowable only aposteriori that Hesperus is Hesperus, since the Kripke-Putnam epistemic arguments against descriptivism are special cases of Quinean arguments that nothing is knowable apriori, and Millians have no resources to resist the more general Quinean arguments.
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  7. Gordon Prescott Barnes (2007). Necessity and Apriority. Philosophical Studies 132 (3):495 - 523.
    The classical view of the relationship between necessity and apriority, defended by Leibniz and Kant, is that all necessary truths are known a priori. The classical view is now almost universally rejected, ever since Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam discovered that there are necessary truths that are known only a posteriori. However, in recent years a new debate has emerged over the epistemology of these necessary a posteriori truths. According to one view – call it the neo-classical view – knowledge (...)
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  8. Pierre Baumann (2011). What Does Kripke Mean by "a Priori"? Diametros 28 (28):1-7.
    This paper argues that Kripke's claim that there are contingent a priori truths would be vitiated by a seemingly unorthodox understanding of the term "a priori".
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  9. George Bealer (2002). Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance. In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press 71-125.
    The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. A less (...)
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  10. George Bealer (1987). The Philosophical Limits of Scientific Essentialism. Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.
    Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a (...)
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  11. Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (2010). On the Abuse of the Necessary a Posteriori. In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge 159--79.
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  12. A. Cornelius Benjamin (1928). Necessity. Journal of Philosophy 25 (10):263-270.
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  13. J. Brakel (1990). Units of Measurement and Natural Kinds: Some Kripkean Considerations. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 33 (3):297 - 317.
    Kripke has argued that definitions of units of measurements provide examples of statements that are both contingent and a priori. In this paper I argue that definitions of units of measurement are intended to be stipulations of what Kripke calls theoretical identities: a stipulation that two terms will have the same rigid designation. Hence such a definition is both a priori and necessary. The necessity arises because such definitions appeal to natural kind properties only, which on Kripke's account are necessary.
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  14. Andreas Brandt (2013). Kay Herrmann: Apriori im Wandel. Für und wider eine kritische Metaphysik der Natur. Philosophische Rundschau 60 (3):252-256.
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  15. Curtis Brown (1984). The Necessary a Posteriori: A Response to Tichý. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 45 (3):379 - 397.
    Some of Tichý's conclusions rest on an assumption about substitutivity which Kripke would not accept. If we grant the assumption, then Tichý successfully shows that we can discover true identity statements involving names a priori, but not that we can discover a priori what properties things have essentially. Many of Tichý's arguments require an implausible rejection of the possibility of indirect belief as described in Section III. 25Are there necessary a posteriori propositions? I have argued that we certainly can discover (...)
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  16. A. Casullo (2010). Knowledge and Modality. Synthese 172 (3):341 - 359.
    Kripke claims that there are necessary a posteriori truths and contingent a priori truths. These claims challenge the traditional Kantian view that (K) All knowledge of necessary truths is a priori and all a priori knowledge is of necessary truths. Kripke’s claims continue to be resisted, which indicates that the Kantian view remains attractive. My goal is to identify the most plausible principles linking the epistemic and the modal. My strategy for identifying the principles is to investigate two related questions. (...)
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  17. Albert Casullo (2013). Posteriori Distinction1. In Albert Casullo & Joshua C. Thurow (eds.), The a Priori in Philosophy. OUP Oxford 249.
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  18. Albert Casullo (2012). Analyticity, Apriority, Modality. In Manuel García-Carpintero & Max Kölbel (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Continuum International Pub. 228.
  19. Albert Casullo (1988). Actuality and the a Priori. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (3):390 – 402.
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  20. Albert Casullo (1987). Kripke on the a Priori and the Necessary. In Paul K. Moser (ed.), Analysis. Oxford University Press 152 - 159.
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  21. Sitansu S. Chakravarti (1979). Kripke on Contingent a Priori Truths. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 20 (4):773-776.
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  22. David J. Chalmers, The Tyranny of the Subjunctive.
    (1a) If Prince Albert Victor killed those people, he is Jack the Ripper (and Jack the Ripper killed those people). (1b) If Prince Albert Victor had killed those people, Jack the Ripper wouldn't have (and Prince Albert wouldn't have been Jack the Ripper).
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  23. David J. Chalmers (2011). Actuality and Knowability. Analysis 71 (3):411-419.
    It is widely believed that for all p, or at least for all entertainable p, it is knowable a priori that (p iff actually p). It is even more widely believed that for all such p, it is knowable that (p iff actually p). There is a simple argument against these claims from four antecedently plausible premises.
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  24. David J. Chalmers (2006). The Foundations of Two-Dimensional Semantics. In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Josep Macia (eds.), Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications. Oxford University Press 55-140.
    Why is two-dimensional semantics important? One can think of it as the most recent act in a drama involving three of the central concepts of philosophy: meaning, reason, and modality. First, Kant linked reason and modality, by suggesting that what is necessary is knowable a priori, and vice versa. Second, Frege linked reason and meaning, by proposing an aspect of meaning (sense) that is constitutively tied to cognitive signi?cance. Third, Carnap linked meaning and modality, by proposing an aspect of meaning (...)
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  25. David J. Chalmers & Brian Rabern (2014). Two-Dimensional Semantics and the Nesting Problem. Analysis 74 (2):210-224.
    Graeme Forbes (2011) raises some problems for two-dimensional semantic theories. The problems concern nested environments: linguistic environments where sentences are nested under both modal and epistemic operators. Closely related problems involving nested environments have been raised by Scott Soames (2005) and Josh Dever (2007). Soames goes so far as to say that nested environments pose the “chief technical problem” for strong two-dimensionalism. We call the problem of handling nested environments within two-dimensional semantics “the nesting problem”. We show that the two-dimensional (...)
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  26. Hugh Chandler, Contingent Apriori Truths.
    This paper attempts to show that Scott Soames has not given us an example of a contingent a priori truth. (What it probably shows is how confused I am on this topic.).
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  27. Nate Charlow (2013). Presupposition and the a Priori. Philosophical Studies 165 (2):509-526.
    This paper argues for and explores the implications of the following epistemological principle for knowability a priori (with 'Ka' abbreviating 'it is knowable a priori that'). -/- (AK) For all ϕ, ψ such that ϕ semantically presupposes ψ: if Ka(ϕ), Ka(ψ). -/- Well-known arguments for the contingent a priori and a priori knowledge of logical truth founder when the semantic presuppositions of the putative items of knowledge are made explicit. Likewise, certain kinds of analytic truth turn out to carry semantic (...)
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  28. Arthur W. Collins (1988). Types, Rigidity, and A Posteriori Necessity. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12 (1):195-224.
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  29. Don Dedrick (2003). Productance Physicalism and a Posteriori Necessity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):28-29.
    The problem of nonreflectors perceived as colored is the central problem for Byrne & Hilbert's (B&H's) physicalism. Vision scientists and other interested parties need to consider the motivation for their account of “productance physicalism.” Is B&H's theory motivated by scientific concerns or by philosophical interests intended to preserve a physicalist account of color as a posteriori necessary?
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  30. Daniel Dohrn (2011). Are There a Posteriori Conceptual Necessities? Philosophical Studies 155 (2):181-197.
    I critically assess Stephen Yablo’s claim that cassinis are ovals is an a posteriori conceptual necessity. One does not know it simply by mastering the relevant concepts but by substantial empirical scrutiny. Yablo represents narrow content by would have turned out -conditionals. An epistemic reading of such conditionals does not bear Yablo’s claim. Two metaphysically laden readings are considered. In one reading, Yablo’s conditionals test under what circumstances concepts remain the same while their extensions diverge. As an alternative, I develop (...)
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  31. Keith S. Donnellan (1977). The Contingent a Priori and Rigid Designators. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):12-27.
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  32. Dorothy Edgington (2004). Two Kinds of Possibility. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):1–22.
    I defend a version of Kripke's claim that the metaphysically necessary and the knowable a priori are independent. On my version, there are two independent families of modal notions, metaphysical and epistemic, neither stronger than the other. Metaphysical possibility is constrained by the laws of nature. Logical validity, I suggest, is best understood in terms of epistemic necessity.
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  33. Edward Elliott, Kelvin McQueen & Clas Weber (2013). Epistemic Two-Dimensionalism and Arguments From Epistemic Misclassification. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):375-389.
    According to Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics (E2D), expressions have a counterfactual intension and an epistemic intension. Epistemic intensions reflect cognitive significance such that sentences with necessary epistemic intensions are a priori. We defend E2D against an influential line of criticism: arguments from epistemic misclassification. We focus in particular on the arguments of Speaks [2010] and Schroeter [2005]. Such arguments conclude that E2D is mistaken from (i) the claim that E2D is committed to classifying certain sentences as a priori, and (ii) the (...)
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  34. Edward Erwin (1974). Are the Notions 'A Priori Truth' and 'Necessary Truth' Extensionally Equivalent? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):591 - 602.
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  35. G. Evans (1979). Reference and Contingency. The Monist 62 (2):178--213.
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  36. G. W. Fitch (1977). Are There Contingent A Priori Truths? Journal of Critical Analysis 6 (4):118-123.
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  37. G. W. Fitch (1976). Are There Necessary a Posteriori Truths? Philosophical Studies 30 (4):243 - 247.
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  38. J. William Forgie (1991). The Modal Ontological Argument and the Necessary a Posteriori. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 29 (3):129 - 141.
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  39. Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Josep Macia (eds.) (2006). Two-Dimensional Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    Two-dimensional semantics is a framework that helps us better understand some of the most fundamental issues in philosophy: those having to do with the relationship between the meaning of words, the way the world is, and our knowledge of the meaning of words. This selection of new essays by some of the world's leading authorities in this field sheds fresh light both on foundational issues regarding two-dimensional semantics and on its specific applications. Contributors: Richard Breheny, Alex Byrne, David Chalmers, Martin (...)
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  40. M. J. García-encinas (2003). A Posteriori Necessity in Singular Causation and the Humean Argument. Dialectica 57 (1):41–55.
    The absence of a necessary connection in singular causation is a key step in the Humean argument against any form of necessity in causation. I argue that Hume's defence of this step is unsuccessful, and that the step could be skipped, accepting the possibility of necessary a posteriori truths. Still this does not suffice to guarantee a necessary connection in singular causation. Necessary a posteriori truths should be backed by necessary a priori truths. Thus, a main object of this paper (...)
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  41. Heimir Geirsson (1994). Necessity, Apriority, and True Identity Statements. Erkenntnis 40 (2):227 - 242.
    The thesis that the necessary and the a priori are extensionally equivalent consists of two independent claims: 1) All a priori truths are necessary and 2) all necessary truths are a priori. In Naming and Necessity1 Saul A. Kripke gives examples of necessary but a posteriori truths, so he disagrees with the second leg of the thesis.2 His examples are of two types; on the one hand statements involving essential properties and on the other hand true identity statements. My concern (...)
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  42. Heimir Geirsson (1991). The Contingent a Priori: Kripke's Two Types of Examples. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (2):195 – 205.
    In Naming and Necessity' Saul A. Kripke gives two types of examples of contingent truths knowable a priori. So he disagrees with the first leg of the thesis. As we will see later, his examples depend on the direct designation theory of names. While there have been attempts to provide examples of the contingent a priori that do not depend on that theory, most of those examples should be viewed as expansions, or modifications, of Kripke's examples. Philip Kitcher, for example, (...)
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  43. Hans-Johann Glock (2010). Necessity, a Priority and Analyticity: A Wittgensteinian Perspective. In Daniel Whiting (ed.), The Later Wittgenstein on Language. Palgrave Macmillan
  44. D. W. Gotshalk (1933). The a Priori. Journal of Philosophy 30 (10):253-262.
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  45. Dominic Gregory (2011). Iterated Modalities, Meaning and A Priori Knowledge. Philosophers' Imprint 11 (3).
    Recent work on the philosophy of modality has tended to pass over questions about iterated modalities in favour of constructing ambitious metaphysical theories of possibility and necessity, despite the central importance of iterated modalities to modal logic. Yet there are numerous unresolved but fundamental issues involving iterated modalities: Chandler and Salmon have provided forceful arguments against the widespread assumption that all necessary truths are necessarily necessary, for example. The current paper examines a range of ways in which one might seek (...)
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  46. Jussi Haukioja (2012). Rigidity and Actuality-Dependence. Philosophical Studies 157 (3):399-410.
    It is generally assumed that rigidity plays a key role in explaining the necessary a posteriori status of identity statements, both between proper names and between natural kind terms. However, while the notion of rigid designation is well defined for singular terms, there is no generally accepted definition of what it is for a general term to be rigid. In this paper I argue that the most common view, according to which rigid general terms are the ones which designate the (...)
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  47. John Hawthorne (2002). Deeply Contingent a Priori Knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):247-269.
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  48. Kay Herrmann, Das Apriori und die Frage der Geltung wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnis.
    Sektion Erkenntnistheorie, 29.09.2014, XXIII. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Philosophie 2014 in Münster. -/- The problem of synthetic judgments touches upon the question whether philosophy is in fact capable of making independent truth statements. According to Kant, synthetic judgments formulate the conditions for the possibility of objectively valid knowledge a priori. As far as empirical attempts at reinterpretation of the aprioristic fall short of this ambition, Kant’s a priori goes deeper. This is because modern science strives towards objective knowledge, although (...)
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  49. Kay Herrmann (2014). Das Apriori, seine Geltung und Entdeckung – Ein Rekonstruktionsversuch. Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte 56:57–75.
    The problem of synthetic judgments touches upon the question whether philosophy is in fact capable of making independent truth statements. According to Kant, synthetic judgments formulate the conditions for the possibility of objectively valid knowledge a priori. As far as empirical attempts at reinterpretation of the aprioristic fall short of this ambition, Kant’s a priori goes deeper. This is because modern science strives towards objective knowledge, although its statements are fundamentally fallible. The topic of synthetic a priori thus continues to (...)
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  50. Kay Herrmann (2013). Das Apriori zwischen Psychologie und Metaphysik. E-Journal Philosophie der Psychologie (18).
    Sofern man die Existenz objektiver Erkenntnisse anerkennt, ist man mit der Frage nach den Bedingungen der Möglichkeit für diese Erkenntnisse konfrontiert. Der Grund muss in Voraussetzungen liegen, die selbst wiederum empirisch nicht zu rechtfertigen sind. Zwar verwerfen Popper und Carnap den Begriff des "synthetischen Urteils a priori", doch die Voraussetzung, dass es "in der Natur gesetzlich zugeht", räumen beide ein. Diese empirisch nicht zu rechtfertigende Prämisse ist ein synthetisches Urteil a priori. Gemäß Kant ist innerhalb der Klasse der Erkenntnisse a (...)
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