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Kripke, A priori knowledge, necessity, and contingency Three distinctions!

Philosophers used to believe that apriori = necessary. o Necessary apriori. It is hard to see how empirical observation could be relevant to determining whether a necessary proposition is true (since the empirical facts are contingent). o Apriori necessary. If something can be known independently of empirical observation, then it would be true regardless of the empirical facts. Among other things, Kripkes aim is to argue that the traditional identification apriori = necessary is mistaken. o In particular, Kripke will argue that some contingent propositions are apriori, and that some necessary propositions are aposteriori. Apriori vs. aposteriori. This is an epistemological distinction between how things are knowable. o Proposition P is apriori iff it is knowable independently of experience. Bachelors are unmarried males and 2+2=4. An apriori proposition could be known by someone on aposteriori grounds. I have brown hair and Electrons have negative charge.

o Proposition P is aposteriori iff it is not apriori. Necessary vs. contingent. This is a metaphysical distinction between what must be true or could have been otherwise. o Proposition P is necessarily true (false) iff P could not have been false (true). 2+2=4 and Water is H20. o Proposition P is contingent iff P is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false. Bush is president and Kerry is president. Analytic vs. synthetic. This is a semantic distinction between what the meanings of words might (or might not) make true. o A truth is analytic iff it is true in virtue of the meanings of its terms. Vixens are female foxes and Bachelors are unmarried males. Water is H20 and Grass is green. o A truth is synthetic iff it is true but not analytic.

BTK 18:

Kripke

(1 of 3)

Week 5

Proper names and rigid designation


Definition and reference-fixing. Sometimes the way we describe an object isnt intended to state the meaning of a name for that object, but rather a way of picking it out. o I might describe Tom Cruise as Katie Holmes husband. o But that is not to give the meaning of the name Tom Cruise. After all, Tom Cruise might not have been Katie Holmes husband, but it is impossible that Katie Holmes husband not be Katie Holmes husband.

o Tom Cruise is actually Katie Holmes husband. That lets me use the description to fix the reference of Tom Cruise, even if not define it. How do proper names come to refer what they refer to? o Causal-historical theory of reference. At some point, an object is baptized with a name, which fixes its reference. Language users pick up the use of the name, and transmit their use to others. Toms parents name him Tom by saying That child in my arms is my son Tom. So do his relatives and friends, and so on

Rigid vs. non-rigid reference. We can refer to Tom Cruise in English in several ways: o If we refer to him by using Katie Holmes husband, then we refer to him non-rigidly since although this expression actually refers to him, it might have referred to someone else, like me. o If we refer to him by using Tom Cruise, then we refer to him rigidly since, given that we actually use this expression to refer to him, it cannot refer to anyone else. Rigid designators. An expression e is a rigid designator iff e refers to the same object in all possible worlds. o Tom Cruise is a rigid designator, but Katie Holmes husband is not.

The contingent apriori

Standard meter stick example.

Suppose we take a certain stick S and stipulatively fix the reference of meter by claiming that 1 meter is the length of S.

Then, it is apriori that S is 1 meter long.

BTK 18:

Kripke

(2 of 3)

Week 5

After all, 1 meter is a rigid designator the reference of which is stipulatively fixed as the (actual) length of S. After all, 1 meter necessarily refers to the actual length of S but S could have been longer or shorter than it actually is.

But it is also contingent that S is 1 meter long.

The necessary aposteriori

Hesperus/Phosphorous example.

The ancients thought that the Morning Star, Phosphorous, and the Evening Star, Hesperus, were two distinct stars. It turns out that they were both the planet Venus.

It is aposteriori that, necessarily, Hesperus is Phosphorous.

After all, it took empirical investigation to discover that.

But if Hesperus and Phosphorous are both rigid designators (Kripke claims they are), then it is necessary that Hesperus is Phosphorous.

After all, if two names are rigid designator, then if they have the same referents, then they necessarily have the same referents. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) Suppose a = b. a refers to o in all possible worlds. b refers to o in all possible worlds. So a = b iff o = o. Necessarily, o = o. Therefore, necessarily a = b. [Names are rigid] [Names are rigid] [From (1)-(3)] [(1),(4)] [(1),(4)-(5)]

BTK 18:

Kripke

(3 of 3)

Week 5