On Diachronic, Synchronic, and Logical Necessity

Abstract

According to EJ Lowe, diachronic necessity and synchronic necessity are logically independent. Diachronic possibility concerns what could happen to an object over time and therefore concerns future possibilities for that object given its past history. Synchronic possibility concerns what is possible for an object in the present or at a past present moment. These are logically independent, given certain assumptions. While it may true that because I am 38, it is impossible diachronically for me to be 30 (at least once we restrict the degree of relevant possibility), it is possible, given that at some point in the past, I may have been conceived slightly earlier than I was, that I am now 37. Likewise, it is possible diachronically for me to be somewhere other than where I am, but given that one object cannot be in different places at the same time, it is impossible for me now to be somewhere other than where I am, and this is true at each past point in my history too. There are, then, two axis upon which to distinguish what is and is not possible: tensed possibilities and possibilities of degree, which include nomic, metaphysical, and logical necessities, among others. I examine the interactions between these possibilities and I come to the conclusion that logical necessity is not in fact logical necessity simpliciter. Whether something is logically necessary depends upon tensed possibilities. I argue that while synchronic logical necessity entails diachronic logical necessity, the reverse entailment does not hold. I explore the consequences of this for certain philosophical debates in semantics including the concept of rigid designation, and descriptive names.

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