[hist-analytic] Re Steve on Kripke and the Meter Stick

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Thu Oct 15 09:25:10 EDT 2009

You think you made a mistake!? 

When I wrote my last post I was blurry eyed and I think it was about 5AM, which is about the time I usually get up. So I'm writing this thing, drinking coffee etc. The bird squawks; I threaten to eat him for breakfast and go on with the routine. 

However, in my last post all the time I was writing it I was thinking about necessary a posteriori propositions, rather than contingent a priori propositions. I LITERALLY did not know what I was talking about. Some of the things I said, I think, have value; but they have to be "reconstrued." Let me go back and give a shorter more cogent and relevant reply as long as I'm awake. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune1 at verizon.net> 
To: Baynesr at comcast.net 
Cc: hist-analytic at simplelists.com 
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 7:04:56 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Fwd: Re Steve on Kripke and the Meter Stick 

Begin forwarded message: 

From: Bruce Aune < aune at philos.umass.edu > 

Date: October 14, 2009 3:08:33 PM EDT 

To: Baynesr at comcast.net 

Subject: Re Steve on Kripke and the Meter Stick 

Mea culpa, mea culpa!  I took too quick a look at Witt's section 50 of PI.  Steve is right: Witt didn't say that the standard meter is not 1 meter long; he said that it neither is nor is not a standard meter.  But Witt was dogmatic in making this claim; he offered no argument to support this bizarre assertion: he simply affirmed that the language-game we play with "meter" does not allow either affirmation (that it is or that it is not). I would never say that Witt was a fool (that would be a silly thing to say) but he was a very confident, sometimes dogmatic man.  Like me, Kripke thought Witt was clearly wrong about "meter," but Kripke  didn't actually argue against him on this point. (He said, "let's suppose he is wrong and that the stick is one meter long" [p.54].)  Kripke proceeds to argue that the statement, "Stick S is one meter long at t-sub-o," is known a priori by someone who has fixed the metric system by reference to stick S, even though this statement is not a necessary truth.  It is thus, he says, an example of a contingent a priori statement. 

In my book I gave a streamlined version of Kripke's argument, one that did not take account of various incidental matters that Kripke took up in the passages where he gave his argument. (This morning I had actually forgotten that he mentions Witt in this part of N&N.) When I presented the argument, I said "some acute philosophers have raised objections with Kripke's criticism of Kant's contention [that anything known a priori is necessarily true], but if his argument is reconstructed as follows, I think it is successful" (pp. 39-40).  So if Steve is going to criticize the arguments I have given, he should direct his attention to the two paragraphs I include on pages 40-41. 


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