[hist-analytic] Correction: Re: A posteriori knowledge of necessary truths

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sun Dec 19 07:51:50 EST 2010

I'll get back, as best I can, other posts. This was the first that popped up; probably because it is most recent. 

On the first point, Bruce and I are not in agreement. At least I don't believe we are. When I say "one particular sort" this is what Bruce seems to be referring to when he uses 'some'. My point was to contrast identity statements and all other statements. So, in (5), 'p' stands for any identity statement, where the identity flanks names. In this class of cases a posteriori knowledge entails the necessity of the known on the view under discussion. Now the second point which is more important. 

The argument for a posteriori necessary truths in its strongest form goes like this: 

I know a=b, aposteriori 
'a=b' is true 
Since 'a=b' is true it is necessary 
Therefore, there is a proposition which I both know a posteriori and necessary; 
so there is a posteriori knowledge of a necessary truth. Briefly, 

p is necessary 
I Know p, aposteriori, 
Therefore, There is some p such that p is necessary and I know it a posteriori. 

Here the problem is that the quantifier quantifies-in; AND in addition, there is an assumption that what is known and what is necessary are one and the same thing. However, quantifying into the opaque domain involves problems with satisfying identity (individuating) conditions making it very doubtful that what is necessary is *identical* to what is believed. The first conjunct above is a straightforward de dicto necessity; the second is a straightforward de re contingency. The connection between 'p' in those two is suspect. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune at philos.umass.edu> 
To: Baynesr at comcast.net 
Cc: "hist-analytic" <hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk> 
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2010 6:12:50 AM 
Subject: Re: Correction: Re: A posteriori knowledge of necessary truths 

Steve makes an error in his post of Dec 18. He said " '(5) I know p aposteriori --> Nec p' is exactly what is being claimed by those who argue that there is a posteriori knowledge of necessary truths of one particular sort: identities. This claim is false: no one (to my knowledge) has ever claimed that every p known a posteriori is necessary. The claim is only that some p is (are) known a posteriori. 

If Steve wants to revise his claim by saying that (for all p) if p is an identity, then if p is known a posteriori, p is necessary, no problem arises, because if p is an identity (of the appropriate kind), the consequent conditional, "if not nec p, then p is not known a posteriori, is true by virtue of having a false antecedent. 

Steve also errs in thinking a quantifier is needed to link a certain necessary truth to knowing. (He says "suppose p is a necessary truth." Well, if this p is a necessary truth, it is linked to knowing by saying "p is necessary and someone knows that p." 


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