[hist-analytic] Kripke on the A priori and A posteriori

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Wed Nov 18 07:06:37 EST 2009

On Saturday 14 November 2009 14:22:32 Baynesr at comcast.net wrote:
> I'm still immersed in colors and Kripke, so I can offer only
> a very modest response to your suggestion.

I was not so much making a suggestion as explaining my usage of the term 
proposition (at your request).

> The relevant link to consider, if this is your take on
> propositions, is that between worlds and propositions. One
> widely considered view is that a proposition is a sort of
> mapping from worlds to truth values.

This is one way of representing the truth conditions which I stipulated should 
be "encompassed" by a proposition.

> This is a good suggestion
> as long as we're doing algebra.

Its not particularly useful for algebra, since algebraic truths are necessary, 
true in every possible world, and therefore the truth conditions in this sense 
are always the same (a constant function always yielding "true").

> But how do we approach the
> question: "What is the relation between an actual thought
> and the proposition which supplies the content of a thought?"

I don't understand why we need to consider this question.
The relationship which is relevant to the point at issue is that between 
sentences and propositions, i.e. semantics, rather than that between thoughts 
(whatever they are) and propositions.

> Propositions don't occur in time, but thoughts do. What, then,
> is the relation of this algebraic device to the actual thoughts
> of a given individual? It has become fashionable to reject
> such questions a "merely" psychological, but this is not a
> good answer. It is a bad way of dodging the real philosophy.

You need to establish relevance in this context.

> To be sure there is a role for abstract (timeless) entities
> in semantics, but the place of semantics in understanding the
> nature of the mind is, I think, more fundamental than semantics,
> philosophically speaking. In a world without minds, there is
> no language (beyond "System S" - that sort of thing); in a world
> without language no propositions.

How does this bear upon the matter at stake?

> Then there is a problem with
> the relation of facts and propositions. Are we going to embrace
> propositions but reject facts?!

What is the problem here with the naive view that a fact is a true 

> I find that a dubious proposal,
> but it may not be part of your proposal. 

I'm certainly not engaging in a campaign against "facts" (or for them for that 

Let me summarise the context.

Aune has presented in his ETK two arguments which originated in Kripke, one to 
the effect that there exist propositions which are necessary but a posteriori 
and the other to the effect that there are propositions which are contingent 
but a priori.

These have often been taken as refuting aspects of Carnap's philosophy, 
specifically part of the idea which I have called "the fundamental triple-
dichotomy", which identified the concepts of analyticity, necessity and the a 
priori, and I am intent of rebutting the idea that Kripke's arguments can be 
taken as a refuting doctrines of Carnap.

To this end I have given separate specific criticism of each of the two 
arguments, and followed up by  an attempt at a broader characterisation of 
what seems to me the source of the errors in Kripke's reasoning.

I have been unable to understand your responses so far, and would welcome a 
clearer statement of which parts of my material (if any) you dispute and on 
what grounds.


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