This paper discusses some serious difficulties for what we shall call the standard account of various kinds of relative necessity, according to which any given kind of relative necessity may be defined by a strict conditional - necessarily, if C then p - where C is a suitable constant proposition, such as a conjunction of physical laws. We argue, with the help of Humberstone, that the standard account has several unpalatable consequences. We argue that Humberstone’s alternative account has (...) certain disadvantages, and offer another - considerably simpler - solution. (shrink)
Suppose a driverless car encounters a scenario where harm to at least one person is unavoidable and a choice about how to distribute harms between different persons is required. How should the driverless car be programmed to behave in this situation? I call this the moral design problem. Santoni de Sio defends a legal-philosophical approach to this problem, which aims to bring us to a consensus on the moral design problem despite our disagreements about which moral principles provide the correct (...) account of justified harm. He then articulates an answer to the moral design problem based on the legal doctrine of necessity. In this paper, I argue that Santoni de Sio’s answer to the moral design problem does not achieve the aim of the legal-philosophical approach. This is because his answer relies on moral principles which, at least, utilitarians have reason to reject. I then articulate an alternative reading of the doctrine of necessity, and construct a partial answer to the moral design problem based on this. I argue that utilitarians, contractualists and deontologists can agree on this partial answer, even if they disagree about which moral principles offer the correct account of justified harm. (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)
_Naming and Necessity_ has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this (...) is it. (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)
Fine and Rosen have argued that normative necessity is distinct from and weaker than metaphysical necessity. The first aim of this paper is to specify what it would take for this view to be true—that is, what normative necessity would have to be like. The author argues that in order for normative necessity to be weaker than metaphysical necessity, the metaphysical necessities must all be preserved under every counterfactual antecedent with which they are all collectively (...) logically consistent—even when their preservation requires that a normative necessity fail to be preserved. By exhibiting some examples that fail to display this pattern of counterfactual invariance, the author argues against the view that normative necessity is weaker than metaphysical necessity. To give this argument is the second aim of this paper. (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 necessity constraint is at the heart of the ethics of both self-defense and war, and yet we know little about it. This article seeks to remedy that defect. It proceeds in two stages: first, an analysis of the concept of necessity in self-defense; second, an application of this analysis to war, looking at both its implications for just war theory and its application in the laws of war.
The necessity of origin suggests that a person’s identity is determined by the particular pair of gametes from which the person originated. An implication is that speculative scenarios concerning how we might otherwise have been had our gametic origins been different are dismissed as being metaphysically impossible. Given, however, that many of these speculations are intelligible and commonplace in the discourses of competent speakers, it is overhasty to dismiss them as mistakes. This paper offers a way of understanding these (...) speculations that does not commit them to incoherence but aims to make the best sense of what they are expressing. Using the philosophical framework of two‐dimensional semantics, it proposes that the speculative scenarios are best analysed as epistemic possibilities, rather than as metaphysical possibilities. It then explores some implications of this analysis for the ethical challenges associated with the non‐identity problem. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that using lethal or otherwise serious force in self-defense is justified only when three conditions are satisfied: first, there are some grounds for the defender to give priority to his own interests over those of the attacker (whether because the attacker has lost the protection of his right to life, for example, or because of the defender’s prerogative to prefer himself to others); second, the harm used is proportionate to the threat thereby averted; third, the harm (...) is necessary to avert that threat. The first and second conditions have been exhaustively discussed, but the third has been oddly neglected. Meanwhile a prominent school of thought has arisen, in the ethics of war, which seeks to ground the justification of killing in war in principles of individual self-defense. They too have failed to offer any substantive analysis of necessity, while at the same time appealing to it when it suits them to do so. In this paper, I attempt a detailed analysis of the necessity constraint on defensive force, and explore the implications of that analysis for the attempt to transpose principles of individual self-defense into the context of warfare. (shrink)
In many diagrams one seems to perceive necessity – one sees not only that something is so, but that it must be so. That conflicts with a certain empiricism largely taken for granted in contemporary philosophy, which believes perception is not capable of such feats. The reason for this belief is often thought well-summarized in Hume's maxim: ‘there are no necessary connections between distinct existences’. It is also thought that even if there were such necessities, perception is too passive (...) or localized a faculty to register them. We defend the perception of necessity against such Humeanism, drawing on examples from mathematics. (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)
What is it for something to be essential to an item? For some time, it was standard to think that the concept of necessity alone can provide an answer: for something to be essential to an item is for it to be strictly implied by the existence of that item. We now tend to think that this view fails because its analysans is insufficient for its analysandum. In response, some argue that we can supplement the analysis in terms of (...)necessity with a further condition. In this paper I argue that this view is untenable in its current form. I then provide a glimmer of hope to those who think that essence is at least partially analyzable in terms of necessity. (shrink)
One of the most influential of contemporary philosophers, Harry Frankfurt has made major contributions to the philosophy of action, moral psychology, and the study of Descartes. This collection of essays complements an earlier collection published by Cambridge, The Importance of What We Care About. Some of the essays develop lines of thought found in the earlier volume. They deal in general with foundational metaphysical and epistemological issues concerning Descartes, moral philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. Some bear upon topics in political philosophy (...) and religion. (shrink)
Some have argued for a division of epistemic labor in which mathematicians supply truths and philosophers supply their necessity. We argue that this is wrong: mathematics is committed to its own necessity. Counterfactuals play a starring role.
In this paper the logic of broad necessity is explored. Definitions of what it means for one modality to be broader than another are formulated, and it is proven, in the context of higher-order logic, that there is a broadest necessity, settling one of the central questions of this investigation. It is shown, moreover, that it is possible to give a reductive analysis of this necessity in extensional language. This relates more generally to a conjecture that it (...) is not possible to define intensional connectives from extensional notions. This conjecture is formulated precisely in higher-order logic, and concrete cases in which it fails are examined. The paper ends with a discussion of the logic of broad necessity. It is shown that the logic of broad necessity is a normal modal logic between S4 and Triv, and that it is consistent with a natural axiomatic system of higher-order logic that it is exactly S4. Some philosophical reasons to think that the logic of broad necessity does not include the S5 principle are given. (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)
It is commonly held that no one can be morally responsible for a necessary truth. In this paper, I will provide various examples that cast doubt on this idea. I also show that one popular argument for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism (van Inwagen’s Direct Argument) fails given my examples.
It is common to think of essence along modal lines: the essential truths, on this approach, are a subset of the necessary truths. But Aristotle conceives of the necessary truths as being distinct and derivative from the essential truths. Such a non-modal conception of essence also constitutes a central component of the neo-Aristotelian approach to metaphysics defended over the last several decades by Kit Fine. Both Aristotle and Fine rely on a distinction between what belongs to the essence proper of (...) an object and what merely follows from the essence proper of an object. In order for this type of approach to essence and modality to be successful, we must be able to identify an appropriate consequence relation which in fact generates the result that the necessary truths about objects follow from the essential truths. I discuss some proposals put forward by Fine and then turn to Aristotle’s account: Aristotle’s central idea, to trace the explanatory power of definitions to the causal power of essences has the potential to open the door to a philosophically satisfying response to the question of why certain things are relevant, while others are irrelevant, to the nature or essence of entities. If at all possible, it would be desirable for example to have something further to say by way of explanation to such questions as ‘Why is the number 2 completely irrelevant to the nature of camels?’. (shrink)
One aim of this paper is to bring to the surface the problems with the traditional, non-literal interpretation of the pre-cosmos in the Timaeus. Contrary to this traditional interpretation, I show that Necessity is an ateleological cause capable of bringing about the events in the pre-cosmos, and that Intelligence is a teleological cause that produces effects only for the sake of maximizing the good. I conclude that there are no grounds for supposing that Intelligence is a causal force operating (...) in the pre-cosmos, and that the account of the pre-cosmos should be taken literally: it is an account of the works of Necessity alone. (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)
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.
Logical structure may explain the necessity and a priori knowability of such truths as that if A is red then A is either red or green. But this explanation cannot be extended to sentences that, while necessary and knowable a priori, do not wear the appropriate logical structure on their sleeves – sentences like ''''if A is a point and A is red, then A is not green,'''' or ''''if A is a sphere, then A is not a cube.'''' (...) The real origin of these sentences'' necessity and a priori knowability is a relationship between the meanings of their component atomic sentences – a relationship which cannot be systematically reduced to logical structure by translating those atomic sentences into any kind of ''''ideal'''' language. Moreover, this kind of relationship is one to which any atomic sentences are susceptible if they have a classifying, or comparison-implying, content. Arguably, then, all atomic sentences are capable of being related to others in ways that are necessary and knowable a priori. (shrink)
This is identical with the first edition (see 21: 2716) except for the addition of a Supplement containing 5 previously published articles and the bringing of the bibliography (now 73 items) up to date. The 5 added articles present clarifications or modifications of views expressed in the first edition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).
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)
This chapter argues that the best way for a non-naturalist to explain why the normative supervenes on the natural is to claim that, while there are some sui generis normative properties whose essences cannot be fully specified in non-normative terms and do not specify any non-normative sufficient conditions for their instantiation, there are certain hybrid normative properties whose essences specify both naturalistic sufficient conditions for their own instantiation and sufficient conditions for the instantiation of certain sui generis normative properties. This (...) is the only metaphysical explanation for supervenience on offer, the chapter argues, that can both clearly maintain the pre-theoretical commitments of non-naturalism, and provide a metaphysical explanation not just for supervenience, but for all metaphysical necessities involving natural and normative properties. (shrink)
A person who is liable to defensive harm has forfeited his rights against the imposition of the harm, and so is not wronged if that harm is imposed. A number of philosophers, most notably Jeff McMahan, argue for an instrumental account of liability, whereby a person is liable to defensive harm when he is either morally or culpably responsible for an unjust threat of harm to others, and when the imposition of defensive harm is necessary to avert the threatened unjust (...) harm. Others may favour a purely noninstrumental account of liability: one that looks only to the past behaviour of the potentially liable person. We argue that both views are vulnerable to serious objections. Instead we develop and defend a new view of liability to defensive harm: the pluralist account. The pluralist account states that liability to defensive harm has at least two bases. First, if an attacker is morally or culpably responsible for an unjust attack then he has forfeited what we call his agency right, and in doing so he has made himself partially liable to defensive harm. Whether the attacker is fully liable to defensive harm depends, however, on whether the imposition of defensive harm would infringe a different right held by the attacker: his humanitarian right. Humanitarian rights are rights to be provided with urgently needed resources or to be protected from serious harms when others can do so at reasonably low cost. We argue the pluralist account avoids the objections to which the instrumental and noninstrumental views are vulnerable, coheres with our intuitive reactions in a wide range of cases, and sheds new light on the way different rights combine to determine a person's liability to suffer harm. (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)
Many people hold that there is a distinctive notion of metaphysical necessity. In this paper I explain why I am skeptical about the view. I examine the sorts of considerations that are adduced for it, and argue that they meet equal and opposite considerations.
Deliberation issues in decision, and so might be taken as a paradigmatic volitional activity. Character, on the other hand, may appear pre-volitional: the dispositions that constitute it provide the background against which decisions are made. Bernard Williams offers an intriguing picture of how the two may be connected via the concept of practical necessities, which are at once constitutive of character and deliverances of deliberation. Necessities are thus the glue binding character and the will, allowing us to take responsibility for (...) our characters. Intriguing though the picture may be, it did not receive a thorough elaboration in Williams’s work. My aim here is to work out and defend what I take to be the most valuable aspect of Williams’s view of agency: its model of the way character and the will can jointly determine agency through mutual constitution. However, I argue that Williams’s attempt to use this model to ground his attack on Kantian morality does not succeed, because the primacy Williams accords to character over the will cannot yield the appropriate kind of normative authority, even from the perspective of the agent. I urge that we retain Williams’s model of the interaction between character and the will, modified to allow the will an authority that is not derived from the necessity of character. (shrink)
An essentialist theory of modality claims that the source of possibility and necessity lies in essence, where essence is then not to be defined in terms of necessity. Hence such theories owe us an account of why it is that the essences of things give rise to necessities in the way required. A new approach to understanding essence in terms of the notion of generalized identity promises to answer this challenge by appeal to the necessity of identity. (...) I explore the prospects for this approach, and argue that it fails. If one favours an account of essence in terms of generalized identity, then one will not, I argue, be able to satisfactorily defend an essentialist theory of modality against the challenge; if one wishes to defend an essentialist theory of modality, and thereby to give an explanation of how necessity arises from essence, one should not understand essence in terms of generalized identity. (shrink)
We tend to suppose that the ancient Greeks had primitive ideas of the self, of responsibility, freedom, and shame, and that now humanity has advanced from these to a more refined moral consciousness. Bernard Williams's original and radical book questions this picture of Western history. While we are in many ways different from the Greeks, Williams claims that the differences are not to be traced to a shift in these basic conceptions of ethical life. We are more like the ancients (...) than we are prepared to acknowledge, and only when this is understood can we properly grasp our most important differences from them, such as our rejection of slavery. The author is a philosopher, but much of his book is directed to writers such as Homer and the tragedians, whom he discusses as poets and not just as materials for philosophy. At the center of his study is the question of how we can understand Greek tragedy at all, when its world is so far from ours. Williams explains how it is that when the ancients speak, they do not merely tell us about themselves, but about ourselves. _Shame and Necessity_ gives a new account of our relations to the Greeks, and helps us to see what ethical ideas we need in order to live in the modern world. (shrink)
A popular response to the Exclusion Argument for physicalism maintains that mental events depend on their physical bases in such a way that the causation of a physical effect by a mental event and its physical base needn’t generate any problematic form of causal overdetermination, even if mental events are numerically distinct from and irreducible to their physical bases. This paper presents and defends a form of dualism that implements this response by using a dispositional essentialist view of properties to (...) argue that the psychophysical laws linking mental events to their physical bases are metaphysically necessary. I show the advantages of such a position over an alternative form of dualism that merely places more “modal weight” on psychophysical laws than on physical laws. The position is then defended against the objection that it is inconsistent with dualism. Lastly, some suggestions are made as to how dualists might clarify the contribution that mental causes make to their physical effects. (shrink)
In `Essence and Modality', Kit Fine proposes that for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all objects whatsoever. Call this view Fine's Thesis. This paper is a study of Fine's Thesis in the context of Fine's logic of essence (LE). Fine himself has offered his most elaborate defense of the thesis in the context of LE. His defense rests on the widely shared assumption that metaphysical necessity obeys (...) the laws of the modal logic S5. In order to get S5 for metaphysical necessity, he assumes a controversial principle about the nature of all objects. I will show that the addition of this principle to his original system E5 leads to inconsistency with an independently plausible principle about essence. In response, I develop a theory that avoids this inconsistency while allowing us to maintain S5 for meta- physical necessity. However, I conclude that our investigation of Fine's Thesis in the context of LE motivates the revisionary conclusion that metaphysical necessity obeys the principles of the modal logic S4, but not those of S5. I argue that this constitutes a distinctively essentialist challenge to the received view that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. (shrink)
This paper attempts to construct a systematic and plausible account of the necessity of the past. The account proposed is meant to explicate the central ockhamistic thesis of the primacy of the pure present and to vindicate Ockham's own non-Aristotelian response to the challenge of logical determinism.
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