A Myth about Logical Necessity

Analysis 21 (3):59 - 63 (1961)
In these few pages I shall try to demonstrate the emptiness of the most cumbersome piece of unexamined intellectual baggage at present being hauled about by English philosophers. I here cite one example to be going on with, at the end of the paper I shall give a handful more, and it would be easy to multiply the number by ten from the writings of reputable philosophers. The outstanding philosophical achievement of the ha1f-century which has just drawn to a close [i.e. the period 1900-1950] has been an appreciation of the peculiar status of a priori judgments and of logically necessary or formally true propositions. . . . Though many problems remain unsolved, the main outline is now clear: formally true statements assert nothing about the world; instead, their function is to state principles according to which empirical propositions are deduced from other empirical propositions . . . (R. B. Braithwaite, ‘Moral Principles and Inductive Policies’, Proceedings of the British Academy 1950). What is wrong with this passage and with the myth of which it is an expression is its assumption that we have clear notions of what it is for a proposition to be logically necessary and of what it is for a proposition to assert something about the world, these notions being such that it is plausible to say that it has recently been discovered that every proposition having the first of these properties lacks the second. This assumption is wrong: there is no body of published theory giving a clear account of such notions, and despite fairly diligent searching I have so far failed to find, among the many philosophers who accept the myth, one who is able when challenged to supplement the literature on this vital point. Let me make it clear at once that I am not going to defend synthetic a priori truths - I am going to attack a popular mishandling of the truth that all necessary truths are analytic, and through this attack to draw right-wing conclusions from left-wing premisses..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/3326660
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,189
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Kevin C. Klement (2003). Russell-Myhill Paradox. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Vittorio Morato (2006). Propositions and Necessary Existence. Grazer Philosophische Studien 72 (1):211-231.
Steen Olaf Welding (1984). Die Struktur der Begründung Wissenschaftlicher Prognosen. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 15 (1):72-91.
Jerry Fodor & Ernie Lepore (2006). Analyticity Again1. In Michael Devitt & Richard Hanley (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwell Pub. 19--114.
Jens Christian Bjerring (2010). Non-Ideal Epistemic Spaces. Dissertation, Australian National University
Theodore Sider (2003). Reductive Theories of Modality. In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press 180-208.
Fabrice Correia (2012). On the Reduction of Necessity to Essence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):639-653.
Carl Ginet (2010). Self-Evidence. Logos and Episteme 54 (2):325-352.
A. Iacona (2005). Rethinking Bivalence. Synthese 146 (3):283 - 302.
Robert Hanna (1998). A Kantian Critique of Scientific Essentialism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (3):497-528.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

198 ( #18,326 of 1,940,952 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #56,696 of 1,940,952 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.