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2 - Necessity and certainty

from Part I

Edwin Mares
Affiliation:
Victoria University of Wellington
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Summary

Taking care of business

This chapter has two purposes. First, it is a housekeeping chapter. In Chapter 1, I asserted that there is a close tie between necessity and apriority: it seems that all our knowledge of necessities is a priori. In this chapter I set out a framework for talking about necessity: possible-world semantics. I also discuss theories of propositions. I do so because in later chapters we appeal to the notion of a proposition quite often.

The second purpose of this chapter is to discuss further the relationship between necessity and the a priori, and I introduce another property that a priori beliefs are supposed to have: certainty. I present and discuss two famous arguments due to Saul Kripke that attempt to complicate the connection between apriority and necessity. One shows that there are necessities that we know a posteriori (i.e. empirically) and the other shows that there are contingent propositions that we know a priori. Neither of these arguments, I suggest, endanger the claim that a priori knowledge is intimately involved in all our knowledge of necessities. But both arguments are interesting and important, and force us to be careful about the link between apriority and necessity.

I then look at the link between the a priori and certainty. Traditionally, and according to some contemporary philosophers, since a priori justification does not require any input from “outside”, it must be certain.

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A Priori , pp. 13 - 33
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Necessity and certainty
  • Edwin Mares, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Book: A Priori
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652860.003
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  • Necessity and certainty
  • Edwin Mares, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Book: A Priori
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652860.003
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Necessity and certainty
  • Edwin Mares, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Book: A Priori
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652860.003
Available formats
×