[hist-analytic] Kripke and Contiingently Necessary Truth!?

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Thu Nov 5 11:54:40 EST 2009

In view of a couple of comments by Bruce, I'm taking a little more 
time replying to his argument. Also, I want to include a reply to 
Putnam as well, since their views are at least related. This will 
be forthcoming, soon. But in the meantime a question occurred to me, 
one I have no time to think about, presently. Here it is, just for 

One of Kripke's favorite identity statements is "heat = molecular motion." 
He argues that, given that it is true, then it is necessarily true. But 
there is a common occurrence that raises a question I've never seen 
discussed. I'm sure it has been discussed; just about everything he has 
said has been discussed, it seems. 

The occurrence I have in mind is where a plasma becomes completely ionized. 
For our purposes think of this as the result of  taking molecules, heating them to 
such an extent that their structure breaks down to the point where we 
are left with a bunch of ions (proton, electrons, positrons, nutrinos, etc). 
You might compare this to a "cell free" system in biology. Setting aside 
the special treatment in physics which might involve things like introducing 
different concepts of temperature, just consider the semantics of the 
situation, ala Kripke. 

Here we have it that 'Nec(heat = molecular motion)', ex hypothesis. But 
now we have a dilemma of sorts. (Well, maybe we don't). The "dilemma" is 
that  if we use 'heat' to describe plasma, as we would use it to 
describe the gases constituting the atmosphere, then we cannot accept 
the idea that 'heat' IS molecular motion (there are no molecules 
constitutive of what I've described. But, if this is so ,what we thought was 
a necessary truth ('heat is molecular motion') is false or contingent; 

or we can't use 'heat' in this contexts. If not, why not? (I think we can 

and do). 

So what do we do? Do we say that necessary truths 
may be contingent? (Ugh!) Or, do we say that we were wrong in the first 
place? Neither is satisfying. Now we do have operational concepts of 
temperature ; but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about 
heat! So how can such a plasma be 'heated' if 'heat is molecular motion' 
is a necessary truth. Now I think at this point Kripke would return to 
the distinction between meaning and and fixing the reference; or, 
between analyticity and necessity. Not sure. Has anyone got a reference 
on this? Or an easy solution? Or a denial that there is an issue here? 


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://rbjones.com/pipermail/hist-analytic_rbjones.com/attachments/20091105/e2cc201b/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list