Illusory possibilities and imagining counterparts

Acta Analytica 19 (32):19-43 (2004)
Given Kripke’s semantic views, a statement, such as ‘Water is H 2 O’, expresses a necessary a posteriori truth. Yet it seems that we can conceive that this statement could have been false; hence, it appears that we can conceive impossible states of affairs as holding. Kripke used a de dicto strategy and a de re strategy to address three illusions that arise with respect to necessary a posteriori truths: (1) the illusion that a statement such as ‘Water is H 2 O’ possibly expresses a falsehood, (2) the illusion that conceivability can fail to latch on to a genuine metaphysical possibility, and (3) the illusion that one can access a real metaphysical possibility by conceiving that water is not H 2 O. In this paper I argue that while Kripke’s de dicto strategy dispels (1), his strategies do not enable him to dispel (2) and (3).
Keywords Epistemology, Illusion, Possibility, Semantics, Truth
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