Semantic externalism and A Priori self-knowledge

Ratio 19 (2):149-159 (2006)
Abstract
The argument known as the 'McKinsey Recipe' tries to establish the incompatibility of semantic externalism (about natural kind concepts in particular) and _a priori _self- knowledge about thoughts and concepts by deriving from the conjunction of these theses an absurd conclusion, such as that we could know _a priori _that water exists. One reply to this argument is to distinguish two different readings of 'natural kind concept': (i) a concept which _in fact _denotes a natural kind, and (ii) a concept which _aims_ to denote a natural kind. Paul Boghossian has argued, using a _Dry Earth _scenario, that this response fails, claiming that the externalist cannot make sense of a concept aiming, but failing, to denote a natural kind. In this paper I argue that Boghossian's argument is flawed. Borrowing machinery from two-dimensional semantics, using the notion of 'considering a possible world as actual', I claim that we can give a determinate answer to Boghossian's question: which concept would 'water' express on Dry Earth?
Keywords Content  Epistemology  Externalism  Gallois, A  Mckinsey, M  O'leary-hawthorne, J
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References found in this work BETA
Paul Boghossian (1989). Content and Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Topics 17 (1):5-26.
Paul A. Boghossian (1997). What the Externalist Can Know A Priori. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (2):161-75.
Bill Brewer (2000). Externalism and A Priori Knowledge of Empirical Facts. In Christopher Peacocke & Paul A. Boghossian (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxfordo. 415.

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