Carnap, the necessary a priori, and metaphysical anti-realism

In Stephen Blatti & Sandra Lapointe (eds.), Ontology after Carnap. Oxford: pp. 81-104 (2016)
Jessica Wilson
University of Toronto, St. George
Stephen Biggs
Iowa State University
In Meaning and Necessity (1947/1950), Carnap advances an intensional semantic framework on which modal claims are true in virtue of semantical rules alone, and so are a priori. In 'Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology' (1950), Carnap advances an epistemic-ontological framework on which metaphysical claims are either trivial or meaningless, since lacking any means of substantive confirmation. Carnap carried out these projects two decades before Kripke influentially argued, in Naming and Necessity (1972/1980), that some modal claims are true a posteriori. How should a neo-Carnapian respond to Kripke's results? Some (notably, Chalmers and Jackson, in their 2001) have suggested that an extension of intensional semantics along lines of "epistemic two-dimensionalism" can accommodate Kripke's results while largely preserving commitment to the semantics-based a priority of modal claims. Here we consider how best to implement this suggestion, and how the resulting semantics fits with Carnap's second project. We find that the most promising (and most Carnapian!) post-Kripke version of Carnap’s semantics---abductive two-dimensionalism---presupposes an epistemology which undermines Carnap's metaphysical anti-realism.
Keywords Carnap  ontological anti-realism  metaphysical nihilism  necessary a posteriori  epistemic two dimensionalism  modality  abduction  inference to the best explanation
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