Abductive Two-Dimensionalism: A New Route to the A Priori Identification of Necessary Truths

Chalmers and Jackson (2001) offer an epistemic interpretation of the two-dimensional semantic framework advanced by Kaplan (1979, 1989), Stalnaker (1978), and others. Epistemic two-dimensional semantics (E2D) aims to re-forge the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke (1972/1980). On the E2D strategy, a priori knowledge of certain semantic intensions provides a route to a priori knowledge of a wide range of modal truths---nice outcome, if we can get it. E2D faces the serious challenge, however, that we typically don't have even in-principle a priori access to the intensions at issue (Byrne and Pryor 2006, Melnyk 2001; see also Wilson 1982). As we substantiate, the "access-based challenge" to Chalmers and Jackson's version of E2D is successful; but the problem here isn't for E2D per se, but rather to E2D interpreted as appealing to a conceiving-based epistemology of intensions. Here we develop a version of E2D appealing to abduction rather than conceivability. We argue that abduction gives rise to beliefs that are reasonably taken to be a priori; and we show that E2D when combined with an abductive epistemology of intensions---that is, abductive two-dimensionalism---can successfully respond to the access-based challenge. We finish up with a case study, involving zombies and the mind-body problem, illustrating how the two versions of E2D may differ in application.
Keywords necessity  a priority  two-dimensional semantics  abduction  inference to the best explanation  conceivability  Kripke  Jackson Chalmers  dualism  a posteriori necessities
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