Kripke’s Category Error: Why There Are No Necessary A posteriori Propositions

Abstract

Kripke’s main argument against descriptivism is rooted in a category error that confuses statements about the world with statements about models of the world. It is only because of the ambiguity introduced by the fact that a single sentence can frame two different propositions, one necessary and the other a posteriori, that one reaches the mistaken conclusion that there can be necessary a posteriori truths. This ambiguity from language was carried over into modal logic by Kripke. However, we must consider the two different propositions (1) and (2) separately. Doing so reveals that a given proposition is either necessary and a priori or contingent and a posteriori. It cannot be both.

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Peter Tse
Dartmouth College

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