In this paper I examine the objection to truthmaker theory, forcibly made by David Lewis and endorsed by many, that it violates the Humean denial of necessary connections between distinct existences. In Sect. 1 I present the argument that acceptance of truthmakers commits us to necessary connections. In Sect. 2 I examine Lewis’ ‘Things-qua-truthmakers’ theory which attempts to give truthmakers without such a commitment, and find it wanting. In Sects. 3–5 I discuss various formulations of the denial of (...)necessary connections and argue that each of them is either false or compatible with truthmaker theory. In Sect. 6 I show how the truthmaker theorist can resist the charge that they are committed to necessary exclusions between possible existents. I conclude that there is no good objection to truthmaker theory on the grounds that it violates the Humean dictum. (shrink)
That believing truly as a matter of luck does not generally constitute knowing has become epistemic commonplace. Accounts of knowledge incorporating this anti-luck idea frequently rely on one or another of a safety or sensitivity condition. Sensitivity-based accounts of knowledge have a well-known problem with necessary truths, to wit, that any believed necessary truth trivially counts as knowledge on such accounts. In this paper, we argue that safety-based accounts similarly trivialize knowledge of necessary truths and that two (...) ways of responding to this problem for safety, issuing from work by Williamson and Pritchard, are of dubious success. (shrink)
Theistic metaethics usually places one key restriction on the explanation of moral facts, namely: every moral fact must ultimately be explained by some fact about God. But the widely held belief that moral truths are necessary truths seems to undermine this claim. If a moral truth is necessary, then it seems like it neither needs nor has an explanation. Or so the objection typically goes. Recently, two proponents of theistic metaethics — William Lane Craig and Mark Murphy — (...) have argued that this objection is flawed. They claim that even if a truth is necessary, it does not follow that it neither needs nor has an explanation. In this article, I challenge Craig and Murphy’s reasoning on three main grounds. First, I argue that the counterexamples they use to undermine the necessary truth objection to theistic metaethics are flawed. While they may provide some support for the notion that necessary truths can be explained, they do not provide support for the notion that necessary moral truths can be explained. Second, I argue that the principles of explanation that Murphy and Craig use to support theistic metaethics are either question-begging (in the case of Murphy) or improperly motivated (in the case of Craig). And third, I provide a general defence of the claim that necessary moral truths neither need nor have an explanation. (shrink)
I develop new paths to the existence of a concrete necessary being. These paths assume a metaphysical framework in which there are abstract states of affairs that can obtain or fail to obtain. One path begins with the following causal principle: necessarily, any contingent concrete object possibly has a cause. I mark out steps from that principle to a more complex causal principle and from there to the existence of a concrete necessary being. I offer a couple alternative (...) causal principles and paths, too. The paths marked out rely on relatively modest causal principles and avoid many obstacles that traditional cosmological arguments face. (shrink)
Not a lot of work on theistic arguments has been devoted to drawing connections between a necessary being and theistic properties. In this paper, I identify novel paths from a necessary being to certain theistic properties: volition, infinite power, infinite knowledge, and infinite goodness. The steps in those paths are an outline for future work on what William Rowe (The Cosmological Argument, 1975, p. 6) has called “stage II” of the cosmological argument.
Philosophical tradition has long held that free will is necessary for moral responsibility. We report experimental results that show that the folk do not think free will is necessary for moral responsibility. Our results also suggest that experimental investigation of the relationship is ill served by a focus on incompatibilism versus compatibilism. We propose an alternative framework for empirical moral psychology in which judgments of free will and moral responsibility can vary independently in response to many factors. We (...) also suggest that, in response to some factors, the necessity relation may run from responsibility to free will. (shrink)
I argue that Fregeanism with respect to proper names—the view that modes of presentation are relevant to the contents of proper names—is able to account for the thesis that there are necessarily true a posteriori identity propositions such as the one expressed in ‘‘Hesperus is identical with Phosphorus’’, whereas the Direct Reference Theory—according to which the semantic function of certain expressions, e.g., proper names, is only to pick out an object (referent)—is able to deal with only their necessary truth. (...) Thus, at least in so far as necessarily true a posteriori identity propositions are concerned, Fregeanism should be preferred to the Direct Reference Theory. (shrink)
The problem of necessary evil is a sub-class of the problem of moral dilemmas. In cases of genuine moral dilemmas the agent cannot avoid doing evil whatever he does. In some cases of genuine moral dilemmas, the options facing the agent are incommensurable. But in some other cases of genuine moral dilemmas, though wrong doing is inescapable, there is a rationally best course of action. These are cases of necessary evil. There are several views regarding the doing of (...)necessary evil. On the closure view it is never necessary to do what is evil. This is the view of some utilitarians and of Kant. Then there are people who believe that it is sometimes necessary to do evil. Of these some (like John Gardner) believe that evil in such cases is justified even though it remains an evil; while there are others (like Gandhi) who believe that evil in such cases can never be justified but it can at best be excused or pardoned. Some even think that in some extreme cases the individual who does evil (even if it is the lesser evil) should be punished even though the individual could not avoid doing evil whatever he chose. The paper stresses the significance of the distinction between justified wrong doing, pardonable wrong doing, and excusable wrong doing. (shrink)
In this article the standard philosophical method involving intuition-driven conceptual analysis is challenged in a new way. This orthodox approach to philosophy takes analysanda to be the specifications of the content of concepts in the form of sets of necessary and sufficient conditions. Here it is argued that there is no adequate account of what necessary and sufficient conditions are. So, the targets of applications of the standard philosophical method so understood are not sufficiently well understood for this (...) method to be dependable. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists hold that the world is populated by irreducibly dispositional properties, called “potencies,” “powers,” or “dispositions.” Each of these properties is marked out by a characteristic stimulus and manifestation bound together in a metaphysically necessary connection. Dispositional essentialism faces an old objection from David Hume. Hume argues, in his Treatise of Human Nature, that we have no adequate idea of necessary connection. The epistemology of the Treatise allegedly rules the idea out. Dispositional essentialists usually respond by attacking (...) Hume’s epistemology. In this paper, I give an alternative response. I argue that we can draw an idea of necessary connection from the Treatise’s relations of ideas. We are able, therefore, to overcome Hume’s objection without needing to attack his epistemology or its related principles. (shrink)
This paper addresses the most fundamental question in metaphysics, Why is there something rather than nothing? The question is framed as a question about concrete entities, Why does a possible world containing concrete entities obtain rather than one containing no concrete entities? Traditional answers are in terms of there necessarily being some concrete entities, and include the possibility of a necessary being. But such answers are threatened by metaphysical nihilism, the thesis that there being nothing concrete is possible, and (...) the subtraction argument for this thesis, an argument that is the subject of considerable recent debate. I summarize and extend the debate about the argument, and answer the threat it poses, turning the tables on it to show how the subtraction argument supports a cosmological argument for a necessary being. (shrink)
This paper is an examination of the contingent a priori and the necessary a posteriori. In particular, it considers -- and assesses -- the criticisms that Nathan Salmon makes of the views of Saul Kripke.
This article is based on a presentation held at the conference "Immanuel Kant: Die Einheit des Bewusstseins", September 2014, Graz University, Austria. A much longer version of this paper appears as Chapter 4 in my forthcoming new book "Kant's Radical Subjectivism. Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction" (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) Here's an abstract: // In some Anglophone Kant literature (Van Cleve 1999; Gomes 2010; Stephenson 2014; cf. Shaddock 2015), the problem has been raised of an alleged ‘gap’ in Kant’s argument in (...) TD for the necessary application of the categories to objects of experience, hereafter called ‘the Gap’. The Gap is construed in terms of the difference between arguing that we must apply categories in order to be able to think of, experience, or perceive objects and arguing that the categories must so apply, or in other words, that the categories are exemplified by the objects that we think of, experience, or perceive. The first argument does not imply the second one. Kant appears to claim it does. Hence the Gap. If this is indeed the case, there is a serious problem with Kant’s claim that by means of showing that the categories are derived from the subjective functions of thought we are able to tell how knowledge of objects is possible. At most, Kant will have shown that there are certain necessary ways in which we think of, experience, or perceive objects, but not that the objects of thought, experience, or perception necessarily conform to our necessary ways of thinking, experiencing, or perceiving, that is, that the categories that we need to think of, experience, or perceive objects in fact apply to the objects themselves. This would mean that Kant’s Copernican hypothesis that we take objects to conform to the forms of our understanding, rather than that our concepts conform to the objects (Bxvii), is false. I contend that a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the analytic principle of apperception and the notion of objective validity, and what this entails for Kant’s concept of objectivity, underlies this criticism of a supposed gap in Kant’s argument. In the following, I address these issues, and shall argue that there is in fact no Gap in Kant’s argument. To show that there is no gap between the analytic principle of apperception and the notion of object that Kant espouses, and that Kant indeed shows how subjectivity is constitutive of objectivity, I rehearse central arguments regarding the scope of transcendental apperception as a principle governing representations from my previous book (Schulting 2012b). In the last section (Section 4.10; [not in the current paper]), I argue that a suitably amended version of the phenomenalist reading of Kant’s transcendental idealism helps us understand the intimate relation between TUA and the concept of an object, and why there is no gap between the necessary application of the categories and their exemplification in the object of experience. (shrink)
Analyzing the process of keeping promise we identify its sequence structure and its phase sequences in time. This allows us to arrive at a time order principle forming according to which obligation performance cannot precede in time its sufficient or necessary conditions performance. We further observe that a given promise must always be taken as an element of a certain system of promises. As a result we review definitions of the terms sufficient condition and necessary condition as no (...) more allowing their mutual defining, or symmetry (conversion). We try to discover the compliance rules concerning the condition – the conditioned vector, the course of events vector and the time vector. We conclude that it indicates an incorrect use if, provided the condition – the conditioned vector complies with the course of events vector, the negative time difference in the descriptive use of sentences involving either the if-then connective or the only if connective is obtained. Only when using sentences for abductive explanation with a dominating epistemic vector the negative difference of time does not indicate erroneous use; however, this is possible only for the term of sufficient condition. We further suggest reviewed definition generalization involving the terms of sufficient condition and necessary condition containing always a parameter element denoting a given modality type, or a particular system of rules, laws, etc. Such definition satisfies Brennan’s requirement of a “general formal scheme” where the notion of sufficient condition and necessary condition symmetry (conversion) does not apply. (shrink)
I argue that the fundamental dogma that all necessary relations are internal is ungrounded. To motivate my argument, I analyse Moore’s classic ideas on internal relations and take them as an illustration of the common form of reasoning that can mislead us to conclude that all necessary relations are internal. That reasoning illicitly smuggles the idea that necessary properties and relations reflect on identity—in the sense that the loss of a necessary property/relation is a loss of (...) identity—into the separate idea that the loss of a necessary property/relation is a loss of essence. Essence, however, is not identity. So the way seems to be open for the existence of necessary properties/relations which do not belong to the essence of entities; that is, the existence of necessary but external relations. I then offer some examples of such relations. (shrink)
Hume's contributions to discussions on causality and necessary connection are significant and influential. Yet they remain a source of ongoing debate among philosophers. The analysis in my book is an attempt to dissipate some of the perplexities that surround these issues. The arguments here support what I call a subjectivist interpretation of Hume's views on necessary connection. My central thesis is the suggestion that Hume identifies necessary connection or power with a specific psychological dispositon of the mind (...) "to carry our thought from one object to another". In addition to explaining and exploring this thesis, I critically investigate Hume's arguments for his powerful epistemological paradigm. (shrink)
In this paper I will introduce a problem for at least those Humeans who believe that the future is open.More particularly, I will argue that the following aspect of scientific practice cannot be explained by openfuture- Humeanism: There is a distinction between states that we cannot bring about (which are represented in scientific models as nomologically impossible) and states that we merely happen not to bring about. Open-future-Humeanism has no convincing account of this distinction. Therefore it fails to explain why (...) we cannot bring about certain states of affairs, it cannot explain what I call the “recalcitrance of nature”. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Ross Cameron puts forward a novel solution to the truthmaker problem facing presentism. I claim that, by Cameron's own lights, the view is not in fact a presentist view at all, but rather requires us to endorse a form of Priority Presentism, whereby past objects are derivative and depend for their existence upon present objects. I argue that this view should be rejected.
Many writers have been struck by what Ronald Melzack, a leading investigator of pain mechanisms, calls the ‘puzzle’ of pain. Thus the surgeon Leriche, often quoted in this connection, says: Defence reaction? Fortunate warning? But as a matter of fact the majority of illnesses, even the most serious, attack us without warning. Sickness is nearly always a drama in two acts, of which the first takes place, cunningly enough, in the dim silence of bur tissues, with the lights out, before (...) the candles have been lit. When pain makes its appearance, we are almost in the second act…… Pain merely makes more distressing and sad a situation already long lost…… In fact, pain is always a baleful gift, which reduces the subject of it, and makes him more ill than he would be without it. (shrink)
Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse‐grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences. Is grounding a necessary relation? In this article I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally entail propositions (...) corresponding to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine's Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it's necessary is an issue that hasn't been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary. (shrink)
Epistemic two-dimensional semantics (E2D), advocated by Chalmers (2006) and Jackson (1998), among others, aims to restore the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke (1972/1980), by showing how armchair access to semantic intensions provides a basis for knowledge of necessary a posteriori truths (among other modal claims). The most compelling objections to E2D are that, for one or other reason, the requisite intensions are not accessible from the armchair (see, e.g., Wilson 1982, Melnyk 2008). As we (...) substantiate here, existing versions of E2D are indeed subject to such access-based objections. But, we moreover argue, the difficulty lies not with E2D but with the typically presupposed conceiving-based epistemology of intensions. Freed from that epistemology, and given the right alternative---one where inference to the best explanation (i.e., abduction) provides the operative guide to intensions---E2D can meet access-based objections, and fulfill its promise of restoring the desirable link between necessity and a priority. This result serves as a central application of Biggs and Wilson 2016 (summarized here), according to which abduction is an a priori mode of inference. (shrink)
Contemporary debates on obedience and consent, such as those between Thomas Senor and A. John Simmons, suggest that either political obligation must exist as a concept or there must be natural duty of justice accessible to us through reason. Without one or the other, de facto political institutions would lack the requisite moral framework to engage in legitimate coercion. This essay suggests that both are unnecessary in order to provide a conceptual framework in which obedience to coercive political institutions can (...) be understood. By providing a novel reading of Hobbes’s Leviathan, this article argues that both political obligation and a natural duty to justice are unnecessary to ground the ability of political institutions to engage in legitimate coercion. This essay takes issue with common readings of Hobbes which assume consent is necessary to generate obedience on the part of citizens, and furthermore that political obligation is critical for the success of political institutions. While the failure of the traditional Hobbesian narrative of a consenting individual would seem to suggest the Leviathan is indefensible as a project, this paper argues that the right of war in the state of nature was more central for Hob- bes’s understanding of political institutions than obligation. Furthermore, Hobbes provides an adequate defense of political institutions even if his arguments about consent, obligation and punishment are only rhetorical. In this way Hobbesian law is best understood as a set of practical requirements to avoid war, and not as moral requirements that individuals are bound to comply with. Thus Hobbesian political institutions are not vulnerable to contemporary philosophical anarchist criticisms about political obligation and political institutions as such. To develop this reading, I focus primarily on the Leviathan, including interpretations by Skinner, Kateb, Flathman, and Oakeshott. Ultimately, this argument provides insight into contem- porary political institutions of the state, citizenship, criminality, and the law in a world where political obligation has not been adequately justified. (shrink)
I discuss what Aristotle means when he say that scientific demonstration must proceed from necessary principles. I argue that, for Aristotle, scientific demonstration should not be reduced to sound deduction with necessary premises. Scientific demonstration ultimately depends on the fully appropriate explanatory factor for a given explanandum. This explanatory factor is what makes the explanandum what it is. Consequently, this factor is also unique. When Aristotle says that demonstration must proceed from necessary principles, he means that each (...) demonstration requires the principle that is the necessary one for the fully appropriate explanation of its explanandum. This picture also provides a key to understand Aristotle's thesis that scientific explanation depends on essences: it is the essence of the attribute to be explained that should be stated as the fully appropriate explanatory factor. (shrink)
Bob Hale’s distinguished record of research places him among the most important and influential contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In his deep, wide ranging, yet highly readable book Necessary Beings, Hale draws upon, but substantially integrates and extends, a good deal his past research to produce a sustained and richly textured essay on — as promised in the subtitle — ontology, modality, and the relations between them. I’ve set myself two tasks in this review: first, to provide a reasonably thorough (if (...) not exactly comprehensive) overview of the structure and content of Hale’s book and, second, to a limited extent, to engage Hale’s book philosophically. I approach these tasks more or less sequentially: Parts I and 2 of the review are primarily expository; in Part 3 I adopt a somewhat more critical stance and raise several issues concerning one of the central elements of Hale’s account, his essentialist theory of modality. (shrink)
The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality.
Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an (...) improved version of his account and argue that it fails. First, the account cannot be extended to explain the necessary connection between certain sorts of laws—namely, probabilistic laws and laws relating structural universals—and their corresponding regularities. Second, Tooley’s account succeeds only by (very subtly) incorporating primitive necessity elsewhere, so the problem of avoiding primitive necessity is merely relocated. (shrink)
The recent literature on mental causation has not been kind to nonreductive, materialist functionalism (‘functionalism’, hereafter, except where that term is otherwise qualified). The exclusion problem2 has done much of the damage, but the epiphenomenalist threat has taken other forms. Functionalism also faces what I will call the ‘problem of metaphysically necessary effects’ (Block, 1990, pp. 157-60, Antony and Levine, 1997, pp. 91-92, Pereboom, 2002, p. 515, Millikan, 1999, p. 47, Jackson, 1998, pp. 660-61). Functionalist mental properties are individuated (...) partly by their relation to the very effects those properties’ instantiations are thought to cause. Consequently, functionalist causal generalizations would seem to have the following problematical structure: The state of being, among other things, a cause of e (under such-andsuch conditions) causes e (under those conditions).3 The connection asserted lacks the contingency one would expect of a causal generalization. Mental states of the kind in question are, by metaphysical necessity, causes of e; any state that does not cause e is thereby a different kind of state. Yet, a mental state’s being the sort of state it is must play some causal role if functionalism is to account for mental causation.4 In what follows, I first articulate more fully the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I then criticize three functionalist attempts to solve the problem directly. Given the failure of functionalist efforts to meet the problem head-on, I consider less direct strategies: these involve formulating functionalism or its causal claims in such a way that they appear not to generate the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I argue against these indirect solutions, in each case concluding either that the problem still arises or that avoiding it requires the adoption of an unorthodox form of functionalism (itself a surprising result). In the final.. (shrink)
Seemingly one of the most prominent issues that divide theorists about free will and moral responsibility concerns whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. I defend two claims in this paper. First, that this appearance is illusory: everyone thinks an ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The central issue is not whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility but which abilities to do otherwise (...) are necessary. Second, I argue that we cannot determine which abilities are necessary until we have determined the nature and justification of moral responsibility. Thus, theorizing about moral responsibility ought to take pride of place in theorizing about free will. (shrink)
Philosophical and empirical moral psychologists claim that emotions are both necessary and sufficient for moral judgment. The aim of this paper is to assess the evidence in favor of both claims and to show how a moderate rationalist position about moral judgment can be defended nonetheless. The experimental evidence for both the necessity- and the sufficiency-thesis concerning the connection between emotional reactions and moral judgment is presented. I argue that a rationalist about moral judgment can be happy to accept (...) the necessity-thesis. My argument draws on the idea that emotions play the same role for moral judgment that perceptions play for ordinary judgments about the external world. I develop a rationalist interpretation of the sufficiency-thesis and show that it can successfully account for the available empirical evidence. The general idea is that the rationalist can accept the claim that emotional reactions are sufficient for moral judgment just in case a subject’s emotional reaction towards an action in question causes the judgment in a way that can be reflectively endorsed under conditions of full information and rationality. This idea is spelled out in some detail and it is argued that a moral agent is entitled to her endorsement if the way she arrives at her judgment reliably leads to correct moral beliefs, and that this reliability can be established if the subject’s emotional reaction picks up on the morally relevant aspects of the situation. (shrink)
Economic theory reduces the concept of rationality to internal consistency. As far as beliefs are concerned, rationality is equated with having a prior belief over a “Grand State Space”, describing all possible sources of uncertainties. We argue that this notion is too weak in some senses and too strong in others. It is too weak because it does not distinguish between rational and irrational beliefs. Relatedly, the Bayesian approach, when applied to the Grand State Space, is inherently incapable of describing (...) the formation of prior beliefs. On the other hand, this notion of rationality is too strong because there are many situations in which there is not sufficient information for an individual to generate a Bayesian prior. It follows that the Bayesian approach is neither sufficient not necessary for the rationality of beliefs. (shrink)
In 'Necessarily, salt dissolves in water' (Analysis 61 (2001)), I argued that because the laws required for the existence of salt entail the laws that ensure dissolving in water, there is no possible world in which salt exists but fails to dissolve in water. In this paper I respond to criticisms from Helen Beebee and Stathis Psillos (Analysis 62 (2002)). I also introduce the 'down-and-up' structure, generalising the case. Whether or not this structure is instantiated is a matter for a (...) posteriori discovery. Hence not only are some laws necessary (but known a posteriori), but furthermore whether a given law is necessary or contingent will also be a matter of a posteriori discovery. (shrink)
We introduce insertion domains that support the placement of new, higher, vertices into finite trees. We prove that every nonincreasing insertion domain has an element with simple structural properties in the style of classical Ramsey theory. This result is proved using standard large cardinal axioms that go well beyond the usual axioms for mathematics. We also establish that this result cannot be proved without these large cardinal axioms. We also introduce insertion rules that specify the placement of new, higher, vertices (...) into finite trees. We prove that every insertion rule greedily generates a tree with these same structural properties; and every decreasing insertion rule generates (or admits) a tree with these same structural properties. It is also necessary and sufficient to use the same large cardinals (in the precise sense of Corollary D.25). The results suggest new areas of research in discrete mathematics called "Ramsey tree theory" and "greedy Ramsey theory" which demonstrably require more than the usual axioms for mathematics. (shrink)
Contingentism, generally contrasted with law necessitarianism, is the view that the laws of nature are contingent. It is often coupled with the claim that their contingency is knowable a priori. This paper considers Bird's [2001, 2002, 2005, 2007] arguments for the thesis that, necessarily, salt dissolves in water; and it defends his view against Beebee's  and Psillos's  contingentist objections. A new contingentist objection is offered and several reasons for scepticism about its success are raised. It is concluded that (...) certain higher-level laws describing the behaviours of molecular compounds may be necessary due to their dependence on underlying physical laws, and that the modal status of laws of nature cannot be determined a priori, as the structural features of the substances and properties they govern must first be investigated. (shrink)
In this article, I propose a new way of thinking about natural necessity and a new way of thinking about biological laws. I suggest that much of the lack of progress in making a positive case for distinctively biological laws is that we’ve been looking for necessity in the wrong place. The trend has been to look for exceptionlessness at the level of the outcomes of biological processes and to build one’s claims about necessity off of that. However, as Beatty (...) (1995) observed, even when we are lucky enough to find a biological ‘rule’ of some sort, that rule is apt to be a victim of ‘the rule-breaking capabilities of evolutionary change’. If indeed no distinctively biological generalization—even an exceptionless one—is safe, we need to locate necessity elsewhere. A good place to start is, I think, precisely the point at which Beatty sees the possibility of lawhood as breaking down—namely, at the level of chances. 1 The ‘Necessity’ Objection to Biological Laws2 Necessary Chances2.1 Necessary chances: random drift2.2 Necessary chances: fitness3 But is it Biological?4 Conclusion. (shrink)
It seems obvious that I could have failed to exist. My parents could easily never have met, in which case I should never have been conceived and born. The like applies to everyone. More generally, it seems plausible that whatever exists in space and time could have failed to exist. Events could have taken an utterly different course. Our existence, like most other aspects of our lives, appears frighteningly contingent. It is therefore surprising that there is a proof of my (...)necessary existence, a proof that generalizes to everything whatsoever. I will explain the proof and discuss what to make of it. A first reaction is that a ‘proof’ of such an outrageous conclusion must contain some dreadful fallacy. Yet the proof does not collapse under scrutiny. Further reflection suggests that, suitably interpreted, it may be sound. So interpreted, the conclusion is not outrageous, although it may not be the view you first thought of. (shrink)
I elaborate on Pylyshyn's definition of the cognitive impenetrability (CI) of early vision, and draw on the role of concepts in perceptual processing, which links the problem of the CI or cognitive penetrability (CP) of early vision with the problem of the nonconceptual content (NCC) of perception. I explain, first, the sense in which the content of early vision is CI and I argue that if some content is CI, it is conceptually encapsulated, that is, it is NCC. Then, I (...) examine the definitions of NCC and argue that they lead to the view that the NCC of perception is retrieved in a stage of visual processing that is CI. Thus, the CI of a state and content is a sufficient and necessary condition for the state and its content to be purely NCC, the CI?≡?NCC thesis. Since early vision is CI, the purely NCC of perception is formed in early vision. I defend the CI?≡?NCC thesis by arguing against objections raised against both the sufficient and the necessary part of the thesis. (shrink)
I consider the first-order modal logic which counts as valid those sentences which are true on every interpretation of the non-logical constants. Based on the assumptions that it is necessary what individuals there are and that it is necessary which propositions are necessary, Timothy Williamson has tentatively suggested an argument for the claim that this logic is determined by a possible world structure consisting of an infinite set of individuals and an infinite set of worlds. He notes (...) that only the cardinalities of these sets matters, and that not all pairs of infinite sets determine the same logic. I use so-called two-cardinal theorems from model theory to investigate the space of logics and consequence relations determined by pairs of infinite sets, and show how to eliminate the assumption that worlds are individuals from Williamson’s argument. (shrink)
This paper elaborates and defends an argument for saying that if God is necessarily good (morally perfect in all possible worlds), then He does not have the maximum conceivable amount of power and so is not all-powerful. It considers and rejects several of the best-known attempts to show that necessary moral perfection is consistent with the requirements of omnipotence, and concludes by suggesting that a less than all-powerful person might still be the greatest possible being. Great is your power, (...) and your wisdom is immeasurable. Psalm 147.5. (shrink)
It has been claimed that certain forms of individual essentialism render the Theory of Natural Selection unable to explain why any given individual has the traits it does. Here, three reasons are offered why the Theory ought to ignore these forms of essentialism. First, the trait-distributions explained by population genetics supervene on individual-level causal links, and thus selection must have individual-level effects. Second, even if there are individuals that possess thick essences, they lie outside the domain of the Theory. Finally, (...) the contingency of sexual reproduction suggests that essentialism is misguided in this arena. 1 The problem 2 A reprise of the controversy 3 Enter individual essences 4 How can selection not have individual-level effects? 5 Why can't we get rid of essences we don't like? 6 Is sex necessary? (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation. Focusing on the versions of the unificationist theory of explanation of Kitcher and of Schurz and Lambert, I establish three theses. First, Kitcher’s criterion of unification is vitiated by the fact that it entails that every proposition can be explained by itself, a flaw that it is unable to overcome. Second, because neither Kitcher’s theory nor that of Schurz and Lambert can solve the problems of (...) asymmetry and accidental generalizations, it follows that unification is not sufficient to ground explanation. Third, some good explanations are disunifying, which entails that unification is not necessary for explanation either. (shrink)
Malebranche presents two major arguments for occasionalism: the “no necessary connection” argument (NNC) and the “conservation is but continuous creation” argument (CCC). NNC appears prominently in his Search After Truth but virtually disappears and surrenders the spotlight to CCC in his later major work, Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion . This paper investigates the possible reasons and motivations behind this significant shift. I argue that the shift is no surprise if we consider the two ways in which the (...) CCC is preferable to NNC: it is not only more effective against opponents but also more consistent with his own views on freedom. (shrink)
In philosophical logic necessity is usually conceived as a sentential operator rather than as a predicate. An intensional sentential operator does not allow one to express quantified statements such as 'There are necessary a posteriori propositions' or 'All laws of physics are necessary' in first-order logic in a straightforward way, while they are readily formalized if necessity is formalized by a predicate. Replacing the operator conception of necessity by the predicate conception, however, causes various problems and forces one (...) to reject many philosophical accounts involving necessity that are based on the use of operator modal logic. We argue that the expressive power of the predicate account can be restored if a truth predicate is added to the language of first-order modal logic, because the predicate 'is necessary' can then be replaced by 'is necessarily true'. We prove a result showing that this substitution is technically feasible. To this end we provide partial possible-worlds semantics for the language with a predicate of necessity and perform the reduction of necessities to necessary truths. The technique applies also to many other intensional notions that have been analysed by means of modal operators. (shrink)
Most discussions in epistemology assume that believing that p is a necessary condition for knowing that p. In this paper, I will present some considerations that put this view into doubt. The candidate cases for knowledge without belief are the kind of cases that are usually used to argue for the so-called ‘extended mind’ thesis.
The author describes an interpreted modal language and produces some clear examples of logical and analytic truths that are not necessary. These examples: (a) are far simpler than the ones cited in the literature, (b) show that a popular conception of logical truth in modal languages is incorrect, and (c) show that there are contingent truths knowable ``a priori'' that do not depend on fixing the reference of a term.
The full-text of this article is not currently available in ORA, but the original publication is available at springerlink.com . Citation: Williamson, T. . 'The necessary framework of objects', Topoi 19, 201-208. N.B. Tim Williamson is now based at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.