[hist-analytic] Knowing that I know a Necessary Truth
landspeedrecord at gmail.com
Thu Dec 23 20:32:53 EST 2010
It seems to me that:
1) 'Temperature is molecular motion' is false. Temperature is NOT molecular
motion. This is, as far as my recollection of it goes, a gross
oversimplification of the relation between the two terms. Setting this
objection aside and assuming for the sake of argument that they are indeed
2) They are terms of science, and as such, equating the two is only done so
with an understanding that they are only standing in a relation that has not
yet been falsified (sorry to get Popperian). A good scientist would be
prepared to accept that they were, in fact, NOT the same. Or even more
strangely, that the notion of a molecule was wrongheaded and therefore the
identity would not hold (as the scientist would then contend that there were
no such things as molecules). Far fetched, for sure, but science continues
to stupefy conventional common sense when viewed over long periods of time.
Or just look at what quantum physics does with straightforward notions!
The point here is that no identity involving empirical entities, abstract
or otherwise, can be viewed as being involved in a necessary relationship.
Not the sort of ironclad capital 'N' necessity that philosophy calls for.
3) Similarly 'knowledge' of reducing one scientific notion into terms of
another scientific notion will always be a posteriori, consider for example
the view of mass as being an intrinsic constant property of matter - not an
identity a philosopher would have argued with, but which turned out to be
not an identity at all, as according to relativity it depends on velocity.
4) So the identity is neither a priori nor necessary.
5) "I can't come to know by experience that the truth of which I speak is
necessary through experience, alone" - this makes no sense to me.
The acquisition of any empirical knowledge must always be necessarily
attained via experience. That is what makes it empirical knowledge. Also,
as it is empirical knowledge, it is impossible to assert it as being
necessarily true. Sorry to regress to Hume on this point.
7) "I can never know *that* I know a necessary truth by experience alone" -
I would say you can never know any truth as being necessary. This dissolves
the issue. Of course, this view is extreme... so a less radical view would
confine necessary truths to the realm of algorithmic tautologies. e.g. we
'know' that 37 * 2 = 74 by testing using the the algorithm that collapses
the left side into a mere tautology of the right side. On this account,
necessary truths can only be conceptual truths, truths about conceptual
entities, and never truths about the external objective world.
On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 7:41 AM, <Baynesr at comcast.net> wrote:
> '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'
> '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.
> Steve Bayne
Pentabarf #5: A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.
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