[hist-analytic] Knowing that I know a Necessary Truth

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Wed Dec 22 07:41:57 EST 2010


Consider: 

'Temperature=molecular motion' 

Suppose 't(temp)' represents the functions of temperature; 'm(molecular motion' those for molecular motion. It is discovered that all the functions of one are derivable from the other: (f)[f(t(x))=f(m(x)]. The "reduction" is a derivation not an empirical discovery. Is the identity contingent? As I recall, Putnam says yes. Here we appear to have an identity between properties that is a priori and necessary, not as Putnam suggests contingent. But Putnam, for reasons I won't go into, might still be right. What I am more interested in is the contrast between *some* property identities and identities between empirical particulars. I do not, in the case of temperature and molecular motion identity, need to know the identity is true and, then, infer the necessity of the identity. But to "know" 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' is necessary, I must know it by way of experience. Still, not all identities are known a posteriori. A contrast, therefore, exists between: 

'Temperature is molecular motion' 

and 

'Hesperus is Phosphorus'. 

I may know a bald man without knowing he is bald. He always wears a hat in my presence. My knowledge of the bald man is de re. I do not know 'that he is bald'; of some bald man, I do, however,have knowledge. Compare: I know a necessary truth, even without knowing it is necessary. Now in the case of the bald guy I can *come to know* he is bald by experience; but I can't come to know by experience that the truth of which I speak is necessary through experience, alone(Hesperus is Phosphorus). What I can know about identities by experience varies, therefore. What I cannot know by experience is *that* the identity is necessary. I can never know *that* I know a necessary truth by experience alone. It may turn out that I can know neither a posteriori nor a priori that I *have knowledge* of a necessary truth. 

Regards 

Steve Bayne 
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