This paper concerns anti-Humean intuitions about connections in nature. It argues for the existence of a de re link that is not necessity.Some anti-Humeans tacitly assume that metaphysical necessity can be used for all sorts of anti-Humean desires. Metaphysical necessity is thought to stick together whatever would be loose and separate in a Hume world, as if it were a kind of universal superglue.I argue that this is not feasible. Metaphysical necessity might connect synchronically co-existent properties—kinds (...) and their essential features, for example—but it is difficult to see how it could also serve as the binding force for successions of events. That is, metaphysical necessity seems not to be fit for diachronic, causal affairs in which causal laws, causation, or dispositions are involved. A different anti-Humean connection in nature has to do that job.My arguments focus mainly on a debate which has been the battleground for Humean vs. anti-Humean intuitions for many decades—namely, the analysis of dispositional predicates—yet I believe (but do not argue here) that the arguments generalise to causation and causal laws straightforwardly. (shrink)
A major source of latter-day skepticism about necessity is the work of David Hume. Hume is widely taken to have endorsed the Humean claim : there are no necessary connections between distinct existences. The Humean claim is defended on the grounds that necessary connections between wholly distinct things would be mysterious and inexplicable. Philosophers deploy this claim in the service of a wide variety of philosophical projects. But Saul Kripke has argued that it is false. According to Kripke, there (...) are necessary connections between distinct existences; in particular, there are necessary connections between material objects and their material origins. This essay argues that the primary motivation for the Humean claim, Hume's datum , also motivates the key premise in an argument for the necessity of origins. The very considerations that the Humean takes to show that necessary connections between wholly distinct things would be mysterious and inexplicable indicate that there must be some such necessary connections. Thus, in the absence of alternative support, there is no reason to believe the Humean claim. (shrink)
Saul Kripke, in a series of classic writings of the 1960s and 1970s, changed the face of metaphysics and philosophy of language. Christopher Hughes offers a careful exposition and critical analysis of Kripke's central ideas about names, necessity, and identity. He clears up some common misunderstandings of Kripke's views on rigid designation, causality and reference, and the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori. Through his engagement with Kripke's ideas Hughes makes a significant contribution to ongoing debates on, inter (...) alia, the semantics of natural kind terms, the nature of natural kinds, the essentiality of origin and constitution, the relative merits of 'identitarian' and counterpart-theoretic accounts of modality, and the identity or otherwise of mental types and tokens with physical types and tokens. No specialist knowledge in either the philosophy of language or metaphysics is presupposed; Hughes's book will be valuable for anyone working on the ideas which Kripke made famous in the philosophy world. (shrink)
Chalmers argues that zombies are possible and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on physical facts, which shows the falsity of materialism. The crucial step in this argument – that zombies are possible – follows from their conceivability and hence depends on assuming that conceivability implies possibility. But while Chalmers’s defense of this assumption – call it the conceivability principle – is the key part of his argument, it has not been well understood. As I see it, Chalmers’s defense of (...) the conceivability principle comes in his response to the so-called objection from a posteriori necessity. The defense aims at showing that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility since no such gap can be generated by necessary a posteriori truths. I will argue that while Chalmers is right to the extent that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility within the standard Kripkean model of a posteriori necessity, his general conclusion is not justified. This is because the conceivability principle might be inconsistent with a posteriori necessity understood in some non-Kripkean way and Chalmers has not shown that no such alternative understanding of a posteriori necessity is available. (shrink)
We argue that the inference from dispositional essentialism about a property (in the broadest sense) to the metaphysical necessity of laws involving it is invalid. Let strict dispositional essentialism be any view according to which any given property’s dispositional character is precisely the same across all possible worlds. Clearly, any version of strict dispositional essentialism rules out worlds with different laws involving that property. Permissive dispositional essentialism is committed to a property’s identity being tied to its dispositional profile or (...) causal role, yet is compatible with moderate interworld variation in a property’s dispositional profile. We provide such a model of dispositional essentialism about a property and metaphysical contingency of the laws involving it. (shrink)
I investigate two asymmetrical approaches to knowledge of absolute possibility and of necessity--one which treats knowledge of possibility as more fundamental, the other according epistemological priority to necessity. Two necessary conditions for the success of an asymmetrical approach are proposed. I argue that a possibility-based approach seems unable to meet my second condition, but that on certain assumptions--including, pivotally, the assumption that logical and conceptual necessities, while absolute, do not exhaust the class of absolute necessities--a necessity-based approach (...) may be able to do so. (shrink)
The striking difference between the orthodox nomological necessitation view of laws and the claims made recently by Scientific Essentialism is that on the latter interpretation laws are metaphysically necessary while they are contingent on the basis of the former. This shift is usually perceived as an upgrading: essentialism makes the laws as robust as possible. The aim of my paper—in which I contrast Brian Ellis’s Scientific Essentialism and David Armstrong’s theory of nomological necessity—is threefold. (1) I first underline the (...) familiar fact that metaphysical necessity (of Kripkean “water is necessarily H2O” kind) is not a stronger kind of necessity than nomological necessity but an entirely different kind of thing: nomological, but not metaphysical necessity, is an intra-world necessitation which Armstrong (almost) identifies with causation; metaphysical, but not nomological necessitation, has a canonical link to possible world considerations and counterfactual reasoning. Hence, the change from one necessity to the other is not an upgrading but a substantial shift. (2) I will explain how the essentialists, who promote this shift, are nonetheless able to retain the features of nomological necessity. (3) I also explore, for both the essentialist and the Armstrongian, whether they could extract a modal force from intra-world nomological necessity which it does not have per se. I argue that such a modal force is, indeed, obtainable for them. I will close the paper with some remarks and questions about the relation between Kripkean metaphysical necessity and the modal version of nomological necessity as defined in (3). (shrink)
Since causal processes can be prevented and interfered with, law-governed causation is a challenge for necessitarian theories of laws of nature. To show that there is a problematic friction between necessity and interference, I focus on David Armstrong's theory; with one proviso, his lawmaker, nomological necessity, is supposed to be instantiated as the causation of the law's second relatum whenever its first relatum is instantiated. His proviso is supposed to handle interference cases, but fails to do so. In (...) order to be able to handle interferences, any theory which utilizes a kind of necessitation as lawmaker has to downgrade what it treats as necessity to something more akin to (Newtonian) forces. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with a propositional modal logic with operators for necessity, actuality and apriority. The logic is characterized by a class of relational structures deﬁned according to ideas of epistemic two-dimensional semantics, and can therefore be seen as formalizing the relations between necessity, actuality and apriority according to epistemic two-dimensional semantics. We can ask whether this logic is correct, in the sense that its theorems are all and only the informally valid formulas. This paper gives outlines (...) of two arguments that jointly show that this is the case. The first is intended to show that the logic is informally sound, in the sense that all of its theorems are informally valid. The second is intended to show that it is informally complete, in the sense that all informal validities are among its theorems. In order to give these arguments, a number of independently interesting results concerning the logic are proven. In particular, the soundness and completeness of two different proof systems with respect to the semantics is proven (Theorems 2.11. and 2.15.), as well as a normal form theorem (Theorem 3.23.), an elimination theorem for the actuality operator (Corollary 3.27.), and the decidability of the logic (Corollary 3.28.). (shrink)
The very last of words of Naming and Necessity are ‘The third lecture suggests that a good deal of what contemporary philosophy regards as mere physical necessity is actually necessary tout court. The question how far this can be pushed is one I leave for further work.’ Kripke (1980). To my knowledge he never conducted that further work; moreover, no one following him has wished to take up the baton either. Herein, I argue that in general, physical (...) class='Hi'>necessity is neither reducible to, nor implies, tout court necessity. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that even if Kripke’s speculations are restricted to a subset of the physical necessities where it might be granted that all such are necessary tout court, physical necessity is still not reducible to tout court necessity. (shrink)
It may be that all that matters for the modalities, possibility and necessity, is the object named by the proper name, not which proper name names it. An influential defender of this view is Saul Kripke. Kripke’s defense is criticized in the paper.
It is argued that there are three main forms of necessity--the metaphysical, the natural and the normative--and that none of them is reducible to the others or to any other form of necessity. In arguing for a distinctive form of natural necessity, it is necessary to refute a version of the doctrine of scientific essentialism; and in arguing for a distinctive form of normative necessity, it is necessary to refute certain traditional and contemporary versions of ethical (...) naturalism. (shrink)
In ‘A New Route to the Necessity of Origin’, Rohbraugh and deRosset offer an argument for the Necessity of Origin appealing neither to Suffciency of Origin nor to a branching-times model of necessity. What is doing the crucial work in their argument is instead the thesis they name ‘Locality of Prevention’. In this response, we object that their argument is question-begging by showing, first, that the locality of prevention thesis is not strong enough to satisfactorily derive from (...) it the intended conclusion, and, second, that the argument is not sound unless the Necessity of Origin is operating as an implicit premiss. (shrink)
Parts I and II of 'Conflicting Appearances, Necessity and the Irreducibility of Propositions about Colours' review the argument from 'conflicting appearances' for the view that nothing has any one colour. I take further a well-known criticism of the argument made by Austin and Burnyeat. In Part III I undertake the task of positive construction, offering a theory of what it is that all things coloured a particular colour have in common. I end, in Part IV, by arguing that the (...) resulting 'colour phenomenalism', rather than physicalism, is required to give a satisfactory account of the necessity of Wittgenstein's 'puzzle propositions' about colour. (shrink)
I set up a dilemma, concerning metaphysical modality de re, for the essentialist opponent of a ‘two senses’ view of necessity. I focus specifically on Frank Jackson's two-dimensional account in his From Metaphysics to Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). I set out the background to Jackson's conception of conceptual analysis and his rejection of a two senses view. I proceed to outline two purportedly objective (as opposed to epistemic) differences between metaphysical and logical necessity. I conclude that (...) since one of these differences must hold and since each requires the adoption of a two senses view of necessity, essentialism is not consistent with the rejection of a two senses view. (shrink)
Some commentators have argued that there is no room in Aristotle's natural science for simple, or unconditional, physical necessity, for the only necessity that governs all natural substances is hypothetical and teleological. Against this view I argue that, according to Aristotle, there are two types of unconditional physical necessity at work in the material elements, the one teleological, governing their natural motions, and the other non-teleological, governing their physical interaction. I argue as well that these two types (...) of simple necessity also govern everything made out of the elements, that is, all other natural substances and artifacts. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss Brandom's definition of necessity, which is part of the incompatibility sematnics he develops in his fifth John Locke Lecture. By comparing incompatibility semantics to standard Kripkean possible worlds semantics for modality, we motivate an alternative definition of necessity in Brandom's own terms. Our investigation of this alternative necessity will show that - contra to Brandom's own results - incompatibility semantics does not necessarily lead to the notion of necessity of the modal (...) logic S5. (shrink)
This book is about the influence of varying theological conceptions of contingency and necessity on two versions of the mechanical philosophy in the seventeenth century. Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) and Rene; Descartes (1596-1650) both believed that all natural phenomena could be explained in terms of matter and motion alone. They disagreed about the details of their mechanical accounts of the world, in particular about their theories of matter and their approaches to scientific method. This book traces their differences back to (...) theological presuppositions they inherited from the Middle Ages. Theological ideas were transformed into philosophical and scientific ideas which led to the emergence of different styles of science in the second half of the seventeenth century. (shrink)
In a recent contribution to the discussion of the necessary and the apriori, Philip Kitcher claims that "appropriate insertion of 'actual' and 'actually' can yield a necessary true sentence from anyl true sentence." The general thrust of Kitcher's discussion is the denial of the equivalence of necessity and apriority. I do not discuss any of the epistemological issues that are discussed by Kitcher. The focus of this paper is on the above quoted claim. What follows illustrate my reasons for (...) doubting the correctness of this claim. (shrink)
A U-shaped curve in a cognitive-developmental trajectory refers to a three-step process: good performance followed by bad performance followed by good performance once again. U-shaped curves have been observed in a wide variety of cognitive-developmental and learning contexts. U-shaped learning seems to contradict the idea that learning is a monotonic, cumulative process and thus constitutes a challenge for competing theories of cognitive development and learning. U-shaped behavior in language learning (in particular in learning English past tense) has become a central (...) topic in the Cognitive Science debate about learning models. Antagonist models (e.g., connectionism versus nativism) are often judged on their ability of modeling or accounting for U-shaped behavior. The prior literature is mostly occupied with explaining how U-shaped behavior occurs. Instead, we are interested in the necessity of this kind of apparently inefficient strategy. We present and discuss a body of results in the abstract mathematical setting of (extensions of) Gold-style computational learning theory addressing a mathematically precise version of the following question: Are there learning tasks that require U-shaped behavior? All notions considered are learning in the limit from positive data. We present results about the necessity of U-shaped learning in classical models of learning as well as in models with bounds on the memory of the learner. The pattern emerges that, for parameterized, cognitively relevant learning criteria, beyond very few initial parameter values, U-shapes are necessary for full learning power! We discuss the possible relevance of the above results for the Cognitive Science debate about learning models as well as directions for future research. (shrink)
A discussion of Aristotle’s thought on determinism and culpability, Necessity, Cause, and Blame also reveals Richard Sorabji’s own philosophical commitments. He makes the original argument here that Aristotle separates the notions of necessity and cause, rejecting both the idea that all events are necessarily determined as well as the idea that a non-necessitated event must also be non-caused. In support of this argument, Sorabji engages in a wide-ranging discussion of explanation, time, free will, essence, and purpose in nature. (...) He also provides historical perspective, arguing that these problems remain intimately bound up with modern controversies. “ Necessity, Cause and Blame would be counted by all as one of Sorabji’s finest. The book is essential for philosophers—both specialists on the Greeks and modern thinkers about free will—and also compelling for non-specialists.”—Martha Nussbaum “Original and important . . . The book relates Aristotle’s discussions to both the contemporary debates on determinism and causation and the ancient ones. It is especially detailed on Stoic arguments about necessity . . . and on the social and legal background to Aristotle’s thought.”— Choice “It is difficult to convey the extraordinary richness of this book. . . . A Greekless philosopher could read it with pleasure . . . At the same time, its learning and scholarship are enormous.”—G. E. M. Anscombe, Times Literary Supplement. (shrink)
This book, one of the first full-length studies of the modalities to emerge from the debate to which Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Ruth Marcus, and others are contributing, is an exploration and defense of the notion of modality de re, the idea that objects have both essential and accidental properties. Plantinga develops his argument by means of the notion of possible worlds and ranges over such key problems as the nature of essence, transworld identity, negative existential propositions, and the existence (...) of unactual objects in other possible worlds. He also applies his logical theories to the elucidation of two problems in the philosophy of religion: the problem of evil and the ontological argument. (shrink)
A generally ignored feature of Plato’s celebrated image of the cave in Republic VII is that the ascent from the cave is, in its initial stages, said to be brought about by force. What kind of ‘force’ is this, and why is it necessary? This paper considers three possible interpretations, and argues that each may have a role to play.
A thought that we all entertain at some time or other is that the course of our lives might have been very different from the way they in fact have been, with the consequence that we might have been rather different sorts of persons than we actually are. A less common, but prima facie intelligible thought is that we might never have existed at all, though someone rather like us did. Arguably, any plausible theory of personal identity should be able (...) to accommodate both possibilities. Certain currently popular Reductionist theories of personal identity, however, seem to be deficient in precisely this respect. This paper explores some Reductionist responses to that challenge. (shrink)
Einstein, like most philosophers, thought that there cannot be mathematical truths which are both necessary and about reality. The article argues against this, starting with prima facie examples such as "It is impossible to tile my bathroom floor with (equally-sized) regular pentagonal tiles." Replies are given to objections based on the supposedly purely logical or hypothetical nature of mathematics.
Part of an early version of this paper was read at the University of Warwick in October 1977, and a later version was read at the Newcastle Royal Institute of Philosophy in November 1977 and at Aberystwyth and Oxford in early 1978. Thanks are due to the many colleagues and friends who made helpful comments on early drafts; special thanks to Hugh Mellor, Rita Nolan and Paul Weiss for detailed written criticisms, and to Don Locke, for very helpful discussions.
By the lights of a central logical positivist thesis in modal epistemology, for every necessary truth that we know, we know it a priori and for every contingent truth that we know, we know it a posteriori. Kripke attacks on both flanks, arguing that we know necessary a posteriori truths and that we probably know contingent a priori truths. In a reflection of Kripke’s confidence in his own arguments, the first of these Kripkean claims is far more widely accepted than (...) the second. Contrary to received opinion, the paper argues, the considerations Kripke adduces concerning truths purported to be necessary a posteriori do not disprove the logical positivist thesis that necessary truth and a priori truth are co-extensive. (shrink)
Modal basics -- Some solutions -- Theist solutions -- The ontology of possibility -- Modal truthmakers -- Modality and the divine nature -- Deity as essential -- Against deity theories -- The role of deity -- The biggest bang -- Divine concepts -- Concepts, syntax, and actualism -- Modality: basic notions -- The genesis of secular modality -- Modal reality -- Essences -- Non-secular modalities -- Theism and modal semantics -- Freedom, preference, and cost -- Explaining modal status -- Explaining (...) the necessary -- Against theistic platonism -- Worlds and the existence of God. (shrink)
Há um vasto número de lamentações a respeito da falta de inteligibilidade da mecânica quântica. Alguns ingredientes da mecânica quântica, contudo, podem possivelmente ser compreendidos pela referência a primeiros princípios, ou seja, a princípios (ou postulados) básicos que, para a intuição, são claros e distintos. Em particular, se nos basearmos em um primeiro princípio denominado princípio da não-singularidade, que pode ser visto como uma hipótese, afirmamos que a mecânica quântica pode ser vista como uma consequência a priori de uma exigência (...) racional. O estatuto do princípio de não-singularidade, óbvio para a maioria dos físicos, pode, contudo, ser criticado, com base em que não há uma intuição universal e que qualquer enunciado é, em princípio, revisável. DOI:10.5007/1808-1711.2010v14n3p393. (shrink)
A lot of philosophers engage in debates about what claims are “metaphysically necessary”, and a lot more assume with little argument that some classes of claims have the status of “metaphysical necessity”. I think we can usefully replace questions about metaphysical necessity with five other questions which each capture some of what people may have had in mind when talking about metaphysical necessity. This paper explains these five other questions, and then discusses the question “how much of (...) metaphysics is metaphysically necessary?”, and each of its five replacements. (shrink)
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 of a necessary truth always depends on at least one item of a priori knowledge. According to the rival view – call it the neoempiricist view – our knowledge of necessity is sometimes broadly empirical. In this paper I present and defend an argument against the neo-empiricist view. I argue that knowledge of the necessity of a necessary truth could not be broadly empirical. (shrink)
Some truths are necessary, others could have been false. Why? What is the source of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent? What's so special about the necessary truths that account for their necessity? In this article, we look at some of the most promising accounts of the grounds of necessity: David Lewis' reduction of necessity to truth at all possible worlds; Kit Fine's reduction of necessity to essence; and accounts of necessity that take (...) the distinction between the necessary and the contingent to be a matter of convention. (shrink)
In his influential paper ‘‘Essence and Modality’’, Kit Fine argues that no account of essence framed in terms of metaphysical necessity is possible, and that it is rather metaphysical necessity which is to be understood in terms of essence. On his account, the concept of essence is primitive, and for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all things. Fine also proposes a reduction of conceptual and logical (...)necessity in the same vein: a conceptual necessity is a proposition true in virtue of the nature of all concepts, and a logical necessity a proposition true in virtue of the nature of all logical concepts. I argue that the plausibility of Fine's view crucially requires that certain apparent explanatory links between essentialist facts be admitted and accounted for, and I make a suggestion about how this can be done. I then argue against the reductions of conceptual and logical necessity proposed by Fine and suggest alternative reductions, which remain nevertheless Finean in spirit. (shrink)
I propose a different way of thinking about metaphysical and physical necessity: namely that the fundamental notion of necessity is what would ordinarily be called "truth in all physically possible worlds" – a notion which includes the standard physical necessities and the metaphysical ones as well; I suggest that the latter are marked off not as a stricter kind of necessity but by their epistemic status. One result of this reconceptualization is that the Descartes-Kripke argument against naturalism (...) need no longer trouble us. I end by relating the difference between my view and the standard view to the question, whether there could have been a different world than ours. (shrink)
I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways in (...) which these authors respond to the problem, including the use of two-dimensional modal semantics. Conventionalism about modality offers a complementary approach to modal epistemology, prompting us to identify our knowledge of modal truths with our mastery of linguistic or conceptual conventions. Finally, I discuss an approach to modal epistemology deriving from David Lewis's work that seeks to identify structural features of the modal space over which necessity and possibility are defined. (shrink)
McFetridge (in Logical necessity and other essays . London: Blackwell, 1990 ) suggests that to treat a proposition as logically necessary—to believe a proposition logically necessary, and to manifest that belief—is a matter of preparedness to deploy that proposition as a premise in reasoning from any supposition. We consider whether a suggestion in that spirit can be generalized to cover all cases of absolute necessity, both logical and non-logical, and we conclude that it can. In Sect. 2, we (...) explain the significance that such an account of manifestation of belief in absolute necessity has for the prospects of a non-realist theory of modality. In Sect. 3, we offer a sympathetic articulation of the detail that underlies the McFetridge conception of belief in logical necessity. In Sects. 4 and 5, we show that the conception so articulated will not generalize to encompass all cases of belief in absolute necessity and proceed to offer a remedy. Our proposal is based upon a distinction between two kinds of suppositional act: A-supposing and C-supposing (Sect. 6). In Sect. 7, we then explain and defend our central thesis: (roughly) that (manifestation of) belief in absolute necessity is a matter of preparedness to deploy as a premise in reasoning under any C-supposition. Finally, we indicate that there is some promise in the parallel thesis that manifestation of the treatment of a proposition as a priori is a matter of preparedness to deploy as a premise in reasoning under any A-supposition (Sect. 8). (shrink)
In the history of philosophy, especially its recent history, a number of definitions of necessity have been ventured. Most people, however, find these definitions either circular or subject to counterexamples. I will show that, given a broadly Fregean conception of properties, necessity does indeed have a noncircular counterexample-free definition.
Simon Blackburn posed a dilemma for any realist attempt to identify the source of necessity. Either the facts appealed to to ground modal truth are themselves necessary, or they are contingent. If necessary, we begin the process towards regress; but if contingent, we undermine the necessity whose source we wanted to explain. Bob Hale attempts to blunt both horns of this dilemma. In this paper I examine their respective positions and attempt to clear up some confusions on either (...) side. I come to defend Hale’s conclusion that both horns of the dilemma can be resisted. I end by defending my own account of the source of necessity, and showing why it does not fall victim to Blackburn’s problem. (shrink)
In this dissertation on Hilary Putnam's philosophy, I investigate his development regarding meaning and necessity, in particular mathematical necessity. Putnam has been a leading American philosopher since the end of the 1950s, becoming famous in the 1960s within the school of analytic philosophy, associated in particular with the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language. Under the influence of W.V. Quine, Putnam challenged the logical positivism/empiricism that had become strong in America after World War II, with influential (...) exponents such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach. Putnam agreed with Quine that there are no absolute a priori truths. In particular, he was critical of the notion of truth by convention. Instead he developed a notion of relative a priori truth, that is, a notion of necessary truth with respect to a body of knowledge, or a conceptual scheme. Putnam's position on necessity has developed over the years and has always been connected to his important contributions to the philosophy of meaning. I study Hilary Putnam's development through an early phase of scientific realism, a middle phase of internal realism, and his later position of a natural or commonsense realism. I challenge some of Putnam’s ideas on mathematical necessity, although I have largely defended his views against some other contemporary major philosophers; for instance, I defend his conceptual relativism, his conceptual pluralism, as well as his analysis of the realism/anti-realism debate. (shrink)
Hume was certainly tackling a ‘long disputed question’ under his heading Of liberty and necessity. If our actions are causally determined, can we still maintain that we are capable of acting freely? Or does our deeply-rooted commitment to regarding other people as morally responsible agents also commit us to regarding them as exceptions to the general order of nature and, at some level, somehow exempt from the operation of causal laws? By now this has been disputed even longer, whether (...) we call it the Problem of Free Will and (or versus) Determinism, or the topic of Moral Responsibility and Causal Determination. The basic issue is familiar enough to be referred to as an ‘old chestnut’ – which, in my view, implies we ought to have cracked it by now. Actually, I do believe that the position usually referred to nowadays as Compatibilism provides a solution to this problem, and no doubt this influences the view I take of Hume’s treatment of the topic. In order to relate Hume’s contribution to subsequent discussions and to the accumulated terminology of the debate, it will be useful to have a general scheme of the main positions in mind. Call the assumption that people – at any rate, normal adults – do have the capacity to act freely and are therefore morally responsible for their actions the Free Will Assumption. Evidently this is an assumption that we implicitly make in many different ways. For example, if a rottweiler attacks and injures a child, we may be shocked by the injuries and loathe and fear the dog that inflicted them. But we don’t blame the dog, because such an animal is not an appropriate target for that attitude: it cannot help the savagery which is part of its nature. And if the dog is put down, this is for reasons of safety, to prevent a repetition of the attack. It is not an execution. We take a different attitude to the dog’s owner, who should perhaps have foreseen the possibility of such an attack, and who in any case has a responsibility to control so dangerous a pet. What Hume calls ‘the doctrine of necessity’ is the Principle of Determinism, according to which all events (including all human actions) are entirely the result of prior causes.. (shrink)
In the last 30 years much philosophical discussion has been generated by Kripke’s proof of the necessity of origin for material objects presented in footnote 56 of ‘Naming and Necessity’. I consider the two most popular reconstructions of Kripke’s argument: one appealing to the necessary sufficiency of origin, and the other employing a strong independence principle allegedly derived from the necessary local nature of prevention. I argue that, to achieve a general result, both reconstructions presuppose an implicit Humean (...) atomistic thesis of recombination, according to which any two (non-overlapping) possible objects can simultaneously coexist in one and the same world. Yet recombination ill accords with the other assumptions of the proofs. I also argue that the locality of prevention does not entail strong independence. (shrink)
THE PAPER BEGINS BY CONSIDERING THREE ALTERNATIVE DEFINITIONS OF "ANALYTIC," ONE IN TERMS OF LOGICAL TRUTH, ONE IN TERMS OF THE MEANINGS OF WORDS, AND ONE IN TERMS OF SELF-CONTRADICTION OR INCOHERENCE. NEXT, FIVE DEFINITIONS OF "NECESSARY" ARE CONSIDERED, ONE IN TERMS OF ANALYTICITY, AND ONE PICKING OUT THE BROADER KIND OF LOGICAL NECESSITY DISCUSSED BY KRIPKE AND PLANTINGA. FINALLY, THREE DEFINITIONS OF "A PRIORI" ARE CONSIDERED. ONLY ON A FEW OF THESE DEFINITIONS DO THE CATEGORIES OF ANALYTIC, NECESSARY, (...) AND A PRIORI COINCIDE. (shrink)
I begin by brieﬂy mentioning two different logical fatalistic argument types: one from temporal necessity, and one from antecedent truth value. It is commonly thought that the latter of these involves a simple modal fallacy and is easily refuted, and that the former poses the real threat to an open future. I question the conventional wisdom regarding these argument types, and present an analysis of temporal necessity that suggests the anti-fatalist might be better off shifting her argumentative strategy. (...) Speciﬁcally, two points of interest emerge from my analysis: ﬁrst, temporal necessity turns out to be an inappropriate and ineffective tool for the fatalist to make use of; and, second, the dismissal of the argument from antecedent truth value turns out to be an over-hasty one. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss and evaluate different arguments for the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. I conclude that essentialist arguments from the nature of natural kinds fail to establish that essences are ontologically more basic than laws, and fail to offer an a priori argument for the necessity of all causal laws. Similar considerations carry across to the argument from the dispositionalist view of properties, which may end up placing unreasonable constraints on property identity (...) across possible worlds. None of my arguments preclude the possibility that the laws may turn out to be metaphysically necessary after all, but I argue that this can only be established by a posteriori scientific investigation. I therefore argue for what may seem to be a surprising conclusion: that a fundamental metaphysical question – the modal status of laws of nature – depends on empirical facts rather than purely on a priori reasoning. (shrink)
I recently had the occasion to reread Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke. NaN struck me this time, as it always has, as breathtakingly clear and lucid. It also struck me this time, as it always has, as wrong-headed in several major ways, both in its methodology and its content. Herein is a brief explanation why.
In chapter 9 of De Interpretatione, Aristotle offers a defense of free will against the threat of fatalism. According to the traditional interpretation, Aristotle concedes the validity of the fatalist's arguments and then proceeds to reject the Principle of Bivalence in order to avoid the fatalist's conclusion. Assuming that the traditional interpretation is right on this point, it remains to be seen why Aristotle felt compelled to reject such an intuitive semantic principle rather than challenge the fatalist's inference from truth (...) to necessity. The answer, I contend, lies in Aristotle's theory of truth and truthmakers. (shrink)
After a brief review of the notions of necessity and a priority, this paper scrutinizes Kripke's arguments for supposedly contingent a priori propositions and necessary a posteriori propositions involving proper names, and reaches a negative conclusion, i.e. there are no such propositions, or at least the propositions Kripke gives as examples are not such propositions. All of us, including Kripke himself, still have to face the old question raised by Hume, i.e. how can we justify the necessity and (...) universality of general statements on the basis of sensory or empirical evidence? (shrink)
The eighteenth century was a time of brilliant philosophical innovation in Britain. In Of Liberty and Necessity James A. Harris presents the first comprehensive account of the period's discussion of what remains a central problem of philosophy, the question of the freedom of the will. He offers new interpretations of contributions to the free will debate made by canonical figures such as Locke, Hume, Edwards, and Reid, and also discusses in detail the arguments of some less familiar writers. Harris (...) puts the eighteenth-century debate about the will and its freedom in the context of the period's concern with applying what Hume calls the "experimental method of reasoning" to the human mind. His book will be of substantial interest to historians of philosophy and anyone concerned with the free will problem. (shrink)
The problem of the source of necessity is the problem of explaining what makes necessary truths necessarily true. Simon Blackburn has presented a dilemma intended to show that any reductive, realist account of the source of necessity is bound to fail. Although Blackburn's dilemma faces serious problems, reflection on the form of explanations of necessities reveals that a revised dilemma succeeds in defeating any reductive account of the source of necessity. The lesson is that necessity is (...) metaphysically primitive and irreducible. (shrink)
According to Donald Davidson, linguistic meaning is determined by the principle of charity. Because of Davidson's semantic behaviourism, charity's significance is both epistemic and metaphysical: charity not only provides the radical interpreter with a method for constructing a semantic theory on the basis of his data, but it does so because it is the principle metaphysically determining meaning. In this paper, I assume that charity does determine meaning. On this assumption, I investigate both its epistemic and metaphysical status: is charity (...) a priori or a posteriori? And what kind of necessity does it have? According to Davidson himself, charity is an a priori truth and its necessity is conceptual: it is essential to, or constitutive of, our common concepts of meaning and belief. Not only does this generate tension within Davidson's own, Quine-inspired epistemology, but there is independent reason to think of charity as an empirical truth. Even so, charity might be essential to belief and meaning in the sense of being an a posteriori necessity. I conclude that our ordinary modal intuitions might well support charity's psychological-nomological necessity, but that they do not reach all the way to metaphysical necessity. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the logical truths as (very roughly) those truths that would still have been true under a certain range of counterfactual perturbations.What’s nice is that the relevant range is characterized without relying (overtly, at least) upon the notion of logical truth. This approach suggests a conception of necessity that explains what the different varieties of necessity (logical, physical, etc.) have in common, in virtue of which they are all varieties of necessity. However, this approach places (...) the counterfactual conditionals in an unfamiliar foundational role. (shrink)
In an effort to account for our a priori knowledge of synthetic necessary truths, Kant proposes to extend the successful method used in mathematics and the natural sciences to metaphysics. In this paper, a uniform account of that method is proposed and the particular contribution of the ‘Copernican hypothesis’ to our knowledge of necessary truths is explained. It is argued that, though the necessity of the truths is in a way owing to the object's relation to our cognition, the (...) truths we come to know are fully objective, expressing necessary relations between properties. Kant's distinction between ‘phenomena’ and ‘noumena’ is shown to serve to properly restrict the scope of the necessity claims so that they do express necessary connections between properties. (shrink)
The traditional view that all logical truths are metaphysically necessary has come under attack in recent years. The contrary claim is prominent in David Kaplan’s work on demonstratives, and Edward Zalta has argued that logical truths that are not necessary appear in modal languages supplemented only with some device for making reference to the actual world (and thus independently of whether demonstratives like ‘I’, ‘here’, and ‘now’ are present). If this latter claim can be sustained, it strikes close to the (...) heart of the traditional view. I begin this paper by discussing and refuting Zalta’s argument in the context of a language for propositional modal logic with an actuality connective (section 1). This involves showing that his argument in favor of real world validity his preferred explication of logical truth, is fallacious. Next (section 2) I argue for an alternative explication of logical truth called general validity. Since the rule of necessitation preserves general validity, the argument of section 2 provides a reason for affirming the traditional view. Finally (section 3) I show that the intuitive idea behind the discredited notion of real world validity finds legitimate expression in an object language connective for deep necessity. (shrink)
The article reviews recent developments in England in the law of necessity as a defence to crime and calls for its further extension. It argues that the defence of necessity presents the criminal law with difficult questions of competing values and the ordering of harms. English law has taken a nuanced position on the respective roles of the courts and the legislature in the ordering of harms, although the development of the law has been pragmatic rather than coherently (...) theorised. The law has granted necessity some scope as an exculpatory principle in the law of general defences, but it has also respected the primacy of the legislature as the legitimate arbiter of many of the competitions of value that necessity throws up. The recognition of necessity has not been in the form of a single unified defence of that name. Rather it has taken the form of a number of defences, based on a principle of necessity, but with different nomenclature and different rationales. This approach to necessity is defended as right in terms of principle and policy. Any further development of necessity as a general defence should be restricted to two contexts, namely those of emergencies, and of conflicts of duty, where a danger of death or serious injury is present. (shrink)
According to Alberto Coffa in The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap, Kant’s account of mathematical judgment is built on a ‘semantic swamp’. Kant’s primitive semantics led him to appeal to pure intuition in an attempt to explain mathematical necessity. The appeal to pure intuition was, on Coffa’s line, a blunder from which philosophy was forced to spend the next 150 years trying to recover. This dismal assessment of Kant’s contributions to the evolution of accounts of mathematical necessity (...) is fundamentally backward-looking. Coffa’s account of how semantic theories of the a priori evolved out of Kant’s doctrine of pure intuition rightly emphasizes those developments, both scientific and philosophical, that collectively served to undermine the plausibility of Kant’s account. What is missing from Coffa’s story, apart from any recognition of Kant’s semantic innovations, is an attempt to appreciate Kant’s philosophical context and the distinctive perspective from which Kant viewed issues in the philosophy of mathematics. When Kant’s perspective and context are brought out, he can not only be seen to have made a genuinely progressive contribution to the development of accounts of mathematical necessity, but also to be relevant to contemporary issues in the philosophy of mathematics in underappreciated ways. (shrink)
Some philosophers, for example Quine, doubt the possibility of jointly using modalities and quantification. Simple model-theoretic considerations, however, lead to a reconciliation of quantifiers with such modal concepts as logical, physical, and ethical necessity, and suggest a general class of modalities of which these are instances. A simple axiom system, analogous to the Lewis systems S1 —S5, is considered in connection with this class of modalities. The system proves to be complete, and its class of theorems decidable.
It is often argued that the eternalist solution to the freedom/foreknowledge dilemma fails. If God's knowledge of your choices is eternally fixed, your choices are necessary and cannot be free. Anselm of Canterbury proposes an eternalist view which entails that all of time is equally real and truly present to God. God's knowledge of your choices entails only a ‘consequent’ necessity which does not conflict with libertarian freedom. I argue this by showing that if consequent necessity does conflict (...) with libertarian freedom then God's knowledge in the present would conflict with the freedom of a present choice. Absurd. (Published Online January 15 2007). (shrink)
Must we believe in logical necessity? I examine an argument for an affirmative answer given by Ian McFetridge in his posthumously published paper 'Logical Necessity: Some Issues', and explain why it fails, as it stands, to establish his conclusion. I contend, however, that McFetridge's argument can be effectively buttressed by drawing upon another argument aimed at establishing that we ought to believe that some propositions are logically necessary, given by Crispin Wright in his paper 'Inventing Logical necessity'. (...) My contention is that Wright's argument, whilst it likewise fails, as it stands, to establish the necessity of necessity, established enough to close off what appears to me to be the only effective-looking sceptical response to McFetridge's original argument. My paper falls into four principal parts. In the first I expound McFetridge's argument and draw attention to the possibility of a certain type of sceptical counter to it. In the second, I begin a response to this sceptical move, taking it as far as I can without reliance upon argument of the kind given by Wright. Turning, then, to Wright's argument, I explain to what extent I think it is successful and seek to rebut some objections to the argument which, were they well-taken, would show that the argument cannot enjoy even the partial success I which to claim for it. Finally, I return to my main theme and try to show, with the assistance of what I take to be solidly established by Wright's argument, that the sceptical response collapses. (shrink)
Hume's arguments for the contention that causal necessity precludes logical necessity depend on the questionable principle that a cause must precede its effect. Hobbes' definition of entire cause, although it fails to account for causal priority, is not refuted by Hume. The objections of Myles Brand and Marshall Swain (Philosophical Studies, 1976) to my counterexample against Hume (Philosophical Studies, 1975) are ineffective. Their other objections to my criticisms of their argument against defining causation in terms of necessary and (...) sufficient conditions (Synthese, 1970) are also mostly ineffective. (shrink)
This paper lays out the main contours of an objectivistic account of natural necessity that locates its source within natural substances themselves. The key claims are that what occurs by a necessity of nature constitutes the culmination of deterministic natural tendencies and that these tendencies are themselves rooted in the natures or essences of natural substances. The paper concludes by discussing the notion of a law of nature as it emerges on this account.
This paper examines Flix Ravaisson's account of habit, as presented in his 1838 essay _Of Habit_, and considers its significance in the context of moral practice. This discussion is set in an historical context by drawing attention to the different evaluations of habit in Aristotelian and Kantian philosophies, and it is argued that Kant's hostility to habit is based on the dichotomy between mind and body, and freedom and necessity, that pervades his thought. (...) Ravaisson argues that the phenomenon of habit challenges these dualisms, and at least in this respect anticipates the discussions of habit in the work of twentieth-century phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur.
The paper outlines Ravaisson's account of habit in general, showing how his analysis of the “double law” of habit develops from the work of Maine de Biran, and highlighting the way in which Ravaisson offers a new and original philosophical interpretation of the phenomena of habit. Whereas Maine de Biran remains within a dualistic framework, and finds that habit is problematic within this framework, Ravaisson uses habit to demonstrate continuity between mind and body, will and nature. Then the focus is narrowed to consider how this analysis of habit is applied to a specifically moral context, and how it illuminates traditional Aristotelian theories of virtue. The paper ends by considering several practical consequences of the foregoing discussion of habit and the moral life. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has claimed that there are necessary connections between material things and their material origins. The usual defences of such necessity of origin theses appeal to either a sufficiency of origin principle or a branching-times model of necessity. In this paper we offer a different defence. Our argument proceeds from more modest ‘independence principles’, which govern the processes by which material objects are produced. Independence principles are motivated, in turn, by appeal to a plausible metaphysical principle governing (...) such processes, their invulnerability to non-local prevention. We outline the new argument, and distinguish it from both of the usual defences. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against the commonly received view that Kripke’s formal Possible World Semantics (PWS) reflects the adoption of a metaphysical interpretation of the modal operators. I consider in detail Kripke’s three main innovations vis-à-vis Carnap’s PWS: a new view of the worlds, variable domains of quantification, and the adoption of a notion of universal validity. I argue that all these changes are driven by the natural technical development of the model theory and its related notion of validity: (...) they are dictated by merely formal considerations, not interpretive concerns. I conclude that Kripke’s model theoretic semantics does not induce a metaphysical reading of necessity, and is formally adequate independently of the specific interpretation of the modal operators. (shrink)
Against moral philosophers' traditional preoccupation with ‘ought’ judgments, Bernard Williams has reminded us of the importance of locutions such as ‘I must’, ‘I have to’ and ‘I can't’. He develops an account of the ethical necessity and impossibility these locutions are able to mark. The account draws on his thesis that all reasons for action are ‘internal’. I sketch the account, and then try to show that it is insensitive to important aspects of how the concepts of ethical (...) class='Hi'>necessity and impossibility inform our lives. (shrink)