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)
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)
In this chapter I assume that we accept, perhaps reluctantly, general facts, that is states of affairs corresponding to universal generalizations. I then argue that, without any addition, this ontology provides us with physical necessities, and moreover with various grades of physical necessity, including the strongest grade, which I call absolute physical necessity. In addition there are consequences for our understanding of time. For this account, which I call the Mortmain Theory, provides a defence of No Futurism against (...) an otherwise serious objection due to David Armstrong. In addition the Mortmain theory enables me to argue against the ‘‘Parmenidean’’ or Block Universe position that future and past are both real. (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).
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.
What is the relation between metaphysical necessity and essence? This paper defends the view that the relation is one of identity: metaphysical necessity is a special case of essence. My argument consists in showing that the best joint theory of essence and metaphysical necessity is one in which metaphysical necessity is just a special case of essence. The argument is made against the backdrop of a novel, higher-order logic of essence, whose core features are introduced in (...) the first part of the paper. The second part investigates the relation between metaphysical necessity and essence in the context of HLE. Reductive hypotheses are among the most natural hypotheses to be explored in the context of HLE. But they also have to be weighed against their non-reductive rivals. I investigate three different reductive hypotheses and argue that two of them fare better than their non-reductive rivals: they are simpler, more natural, and more systematic. Specifically, I argue that one candidate reduction, according to which metaphysical necessity is truth in virtue of the nature of all propositions, is superior to the others, including one proposed by Kit Fine, according to which metaphysical necessity is truth in virtue of the nature of all objects. The paper concludes by offering some reasons to think that the best joint theory of essence and metaphysical necessity is one in which the logic of metaphysical necessity includes S4, but not S5. (shrink)
Alan Sidelle's Necessity, Essence, and Individuation is a sustained defense of empiricism—or, more generally, conventionalism—against recent attacks by realists. Sidelle focuses his attention on necessity a posteriori, a kind of necessity which contemporary realists have taken to support realism over empiricism. Turning the tables against the realists, Sidelle argues that if there are in fact truths necessary a posteriori, it is not realism, but rather empiricism which provides the best explanation for them.
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)
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)
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)
This paper argues that the problem of how to act in the face of radical contingency is of central importance in Musil’s novel and intimately connected to what Musil calls the sense of possibility. There is a variety of different strategies by which individuals, and the state of Kakania as a whole, deal with contingency, and they all involve a claim to a kind of grounding or necessity; for example, the Parallel Campaign is one big attempt to ground Kakania (...) in what can be perceived as a form of metaphysical necessity. With the figure of Ulrich, Musil radicalizes the problem by showing the consequences of viewing even the relationship one has to one’s own self as contingent – the ultimate outcome of which is self-alienation. (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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Philosophical theories often hinge on claims about what is necessary or possible. But what are possibilities and necessities, and how could we come to know about them? This book aims to help demystify the methodology of philosophy, by treating such claims not as attempted descriptions of strange facts or distant 'possible worlds', but rather as ways of expressing rules or norms.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
The Master Argument, recorded by Epictetus, indicates that Diodorus had deduced a contradiction from the conjoint assertion of three propositions. The Argument, which has to do with necessity and contingency and therefore with freedom, has attracted the attention of logicians above all. There have been many attempts at reconstructing it in logical terms, without excessive worry about historical plausibility and with the foregone conclusion that it was sophistic since it directly imperilled our common sense notion of freedom. This text (...) takes exception to recent tradition, translating the propositions into logical terms. The propositions figuring in The Master Argument are interpreted in terms of temporal modal logic where both the modalities and the statements they govern have chronological indices. This means that the force of the argument comes not from purely logical or modal considerations, but from our experience of time. (shrink)
There is an important and fairly straightforward link between necessity and apriority which can shed light on our knowledge of the former, but initially plausible attempts to spell out what it is fall victim to counterexamples. Casullo discusses one such proposal, argues—following Anderson :1–20, )—that it fails, and suggests an alternative. In this paper, I argue that Casullo’s alternative also fails, before making a suggestion for which I can find no counterexamples and which, notably, handles some recent examples due (...) to Kipper and Strohminger and Yli-Vakkuri. (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.
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)
Some of the concerns which motivate attempts to provide a philosophical reduction of nomological necessity are briefly introduced in I. In II, Hempel's treatment of the paradoxes is contrasted with a position which holds that nomological necessity is a pragmatic dimension of laws of nature, and that this pragmatic dimension is of such a type that it prevents laws of nature from contraposing. Such a position is, however, untenable unless (i) the sense of 'pragmatics' at issue is specified, (...) and the possibility of pragmatic differences resulting in differences in confirmation is defended, and (ii) a relevant pragmatic difference between contrapositives is indicated. III attempts to satisfy condition (i) by developing a new sense of pure pragmatics and argues that some remarks by Goodman and Scheffler together with work on the logic of explanation by Dr. Rescher and myself suggest that nomological contrapositives are not pragmatically equivalent (i.e. substitutable salva veritate in the pure pragmatics of an ideal scientific language). If such is the case, condition (ii) is also satisfied. (shrink)