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Necessity and Aprioricity


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1 NECESSITY AND APRIORICITY By SHAWN BURTOFT A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Shawn Burtoft

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3 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............4 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................... .5 Preliminaries.................................................................................................................. ...........5 Necessity/Contingency.......................................................................................................... ...5 A priori/Aposteriori........................................................................................................... .......6 The Traditional View........................................................................................................... .....8 The Challenge to the Traditional View..................................................................................10 Thesis and Strategy............................................................................................................ .....11 2 IDENTITY STATEMENTS...................................................................................................14 Natural Kinds.................................................................................................................. ........17 3 ACTUAL, ACTUALLY, DTHAT.................................................................................19 The Actual F................................................................................................................... ........19 Kaplans Dthat Operator......................................................................................................21 All Actual Fs are Fs........................................................................................................... .....23 Actually, P.................................................................................................................... ..........24 4 STATEMENTS ABOUT ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES.........................................................27 5 REFERENCE FIXING...........................................................................................................30 6 THE ROLE OF THE LI NGUISTIC VEHICLE.....................................................................34 Sentences vs. Propositions..................................................................................................... .37 Freges Puzzle................................................................................................................. ........38 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..46 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................48

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4 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts NECESSITY AND APRIORICITY By Shawn Burtoft May 2007 Chair: Kirk Ludwig Major: Philosophy My aim in this thesis is to show 1) that the standard examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency are not counterexamples to th e traditional view of the relation between necessity and a prioricity and 2) that such examples rest on a common confusion, viz., failing to recognize the role the linguistic ve hicle plays in the suggested epistemic status of such examples. I begin by pointing out a puzzle that arises in all such cases: for each alleged counterexample, C the considerations which are taken to show that C is necessary/contingent entail that there are two sentences which express th e same proposition though when considered, as it were, under the aspect of one sentence is said to be a priori and under the aspect of the other is said to be a posteriori This results in three inconsiste nt claims of this form: it is a priori that p; it is not a priori that q ; that p = that q. If all three claims are true, it follows that there is a proposition which is a priori and not a priori Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the three claims must be rejected. I will argue that, in each case, rejecting either of two of the three claims rules out the example as a counterexample to the traditional view, while rejecting th e third is untenable. If this is right, then, in each case, we can show that we do not after all have a counterexample to the traditional view.

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5 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Preliminaries In this thesis, I will be considering a range of alleged examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency. For my purposes, it will not be necessary to give analyses of necessity and a priority but it will be useful to fix some ideas at the outset. The following remarks and schemas are meant to explicate some intuitive notions and equivalences that are the background of the subsequent discussion. Necessity/Contingency For reasons that will emerge later in the di scussion, I will distinguish between attributing modal and epistemic properties to sentences and propositions. Propositions will be thought of as they traditionally have been, as reified sent ence meanings, insofar as they contribute to determining under what conditions a sentence is true or false. To say that two sentences s1 and s2, in some language L, express the same proposition is to say that s1 and s2 are synonymous in L. When s1 and s2 are sentences in distinct languages, L1 and L2, we can say that they express the same proposition iff s1 in L1 and s2 in L2 are intertranslatable. For simplicity, I ignore context sensitive sentences, such as those involving inde xical terms and those whose truth-values vary from use to use because of tense. One example we will look at contains an indexical term but it should be clear from the discussion that not hing hinges ignoring its context sensitivity. Everything I need to say could be reformul ated to adjust for context sensitivity. I will be assuming the equivalences expressed in the following schemas, where p is a schematic letter for propositions and s is used for names or descriptions of sentences. It is necessary that p iff it is not possible that it is not the case that p It is contingent that p iff it is the case that p and it is not necessary that p s is necessarily true (in L) iff it is not possible that s is not true (in L). s is contingently true (in L) iff s is true (in L) and s is not necessarily true (in L).

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6 Occasionally, I will employ the terminology of possible worlds. While I do not take possible worlds talk to be basic, it is a useful heuristic when ev aluating some of the examples we will consider. In those instances, the relation be tween necessity, possibility, and contingency will be understood as follows: It is necessary that p iff it is the case that p in every possible world. It is possible that p iff it is the case that p in some possible world. It is contingent that p iff it is the case that p in the actual world and it is not the case that p in every possible world. s is necessarily true (in L) iff s is true (in L) in every possible world. s is possibly tr ue (in L) iff s is true (in L) in some possible world. s is contingently true (in L) iff s is true (in L) in the actual world and s is not true (in L) in every possible world. A priori/Aposteriori To say that something is a priori is to say that it is knowable independently of experience, and, intuitively, this is just to say that there is a way of knowing it, or coming to know it, which does not require empirical investigation. The sorts of things which are gene rally said to fall under this category include logical and mathematical truths, e.g., propositions expressed by sentences of the form P or ~P and ((P Q) & P) Q), a is a, or the propositions expressed by + 2 = 4, > 1, etc., or axioms of formal system s like geometry, e.g., that a line contains at least two points, and certain propositions which appear to be true, in some sense, by definition, such as the proposition that all bachelors are unma rried males. These are typical examples of propositions which are said to be a priori By contrast, that the Earth is the third planet from the Sun, that lions are carnivores, that the capital of France is Paris, and that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence are taken to be truths which are not knowable independently of experience, and, hence, examples of a posteriori truths. It should be noted that being knowable a priori appears to be relative, in some cases, at least, to particular subjects, that is, it seems that in some cases a proposition may be knowable

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7 (not just known) a priori by some but not by others. Cons ider the proposition expressed by Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain. This is one of the standard examples of an a posteriori necessity. But what was the epistemic status of this for Mark Twain? It seems that he, at least, knew it to be true a priori i.e., without empirical investigation. But it seems that it is not the case that it is even knowable a priori for everyone. Th is seems to be the way Kripke (1980, p. 56) is thinking about the a priori in his discussion of his standard meter bar example in Naming and Necessity as in the following passage. What then is the epistemological status of th e statement Stick S is one meter long at t0, for someone who has fixed the metric system by reference to stick S? It would seem he knows it a priori. For if he used stick S to fix th e reference of the term one meter, then as a result of this kind of definition he know s automatically, without further investigation, that S is one meter long. So in this sens e, there are contingent a priori truths. It is clear in this case that Kripke is assuming that this is not so for someone who has not fixed the metric system by reference to stick S. That is for many others at least, that S is one meter long, Kripke is assuming, will neither be known a pr iori nor be knowable a priori. This suggests that we shouldnt th ink that there are a priori truths simpliciter i.e., that an a priori truth is simply one which is knowable a priori by someone. Instead, it would be better to think of the properties being a priori and being a posteriori as fundamentally relational properties, i.e., as relating propositions/sentences to particular subject s. We can represent this as follows, where we let k stand for some knower. It is a priori that p for k iff that p is knowable for k independently of experience. It is a posteriori that p for k iff it is knowable that p for k and it is not a priori for k that p s is true a priori (in L) for k iff it is knowable that s is true (in L) for k independently of experience. s is true a posteriori (in L) for k iff it is knowable that s is true (in L) for k and s is not true a priori (in L) for k

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8 The Traditional View The distinction between the a priori and a posteriori was first drawn clea rly in the Modern period. Hume and Leibniz identified a priori propositions with necessary and analytic propositions. Leibniz (1714, ) called such propos itions truths of reasoning and contrasted them with truths of fact. Truths of fact are contingent and their opposit e is possible. When a truth is necessary, its reason can be found by analysis, resolving it in to more simple ideas and truths, until we come to those which are primary. Primary prin ciples cannot be prove d, and indeed have no need of proof; and these ar e identical propositions whos e opposite involves an express contradiction. Hume (1698, p. 40) made a similar distinction betw een what he called rel ations of ideas and matters of fact. All the objects of human reason or inquiry may naturally be di vided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic, and, in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the square of two sides is a proposition which expresses a relati on between these figures. That three times five is equal to half of thirty expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operati on of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Matter s of fact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner, nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoi ng. The contrary of ev ery matter of fact is still possible, because it can never imply a contradiction. Kant departed from this picture in one important respect, in the Critique of Pure Reason suggesting that there are some a priori truths which are not analytic, i.e., not truths of reasoning or about relations among ideas. For instance, he held that certain truths of arithmetic, while a priori were synthetic One example Kant gives is the proposition that 7 + 5 is 12. Kant took analytic propositions to be those in which the concept of the predicate is contained in the concept of the subject.1 He maintained that the propositi on that 7 + 5 is 12 did not meet 1 While, strictly speaking, propositions dont contain subjects and predicates, the use of these grammatical categories helps represent the intuitive structure of th e proposition expressed by subject-predicate sentences.

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9 this criterion because the concept of 12 is not ob tained by merely considering the union of 5 and 7. Yet it is clearly a priori since we can know the proposition w ithout appeal to experience. In this sense, he believed that there were synthetic a priori truths. However, while Kant ( Ibid ., p. 38) differed from Hume and Leibniz in this respect, he followed them in identifying the a priori with the necessary: Now, in the first place, if we have a propositi on which contains the idea of necessity in its very conception, it is a judgment a priori ; if, moreover, it is not derived from any other proposition, unless from one e qually involving the idea of ne cessity, it is absolutely a priori Secondly, an empirical judg ment never exhibits strict and absolute, but only assumed and comparative universality (by induc tion); therefore, the most we can say is so far as we have hitherto observedthere is no exception to this or that rule. If, on the other hand, a judgment carries with it strict and absolute universality, th at is, admits of no possible exception, it is not derived from experience, but is valid absolutely a priori This view was also widely held among the ea rly analytic philosophers who, despite Kants challenge, largely also identified the a priori with the analytic and the necessary. Ayer (1952, p. 31), for instance, is very explicit about this in Language Truth and Logic a classic statement of the widely influential views of the Logical Positivists: Like Hume, I divide all genuine propositions into two classes: those which, in his terminology, concern relations of ideas, and those which concern matters of fact. The former class comprises the a priori propositions of logic and pure mathematics, and these I allow to be necessary only because they are an alytic. That is, I maintain that the reason these propositions cannot be conf uted in experience is that th ey do not make any assertion about the empirical world, but simply record ou r determination to use symbols in a certain fashion. Wittgenstein (1922, 5.525) took a very similar line in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus which served as an inspiration for the Vienna Ci rcle and the Logical Positivists. He held that a priori/ necessary truths were tautologies and contrasted these with what he called propositions with sense. The certainty, possibility, or impossibility of a situation is not e xpressed by a proposition, but by an expressions being a tautology, a pr oposition with sense, or a contradiction.

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10 Propositions with sense give us information about the world and are cont ingent. Tautologies (and contradictions), by contrast, are only said to be m eaningful in the sense that they provide us with information about the use of symbols in our system. And, while Russell (1931, p. 103) wasnt as explic it on this point, it appears that he had similar considerations in mind when he argued, in The Problems of Philosophy that all a priori knowledge deals exclusively with th e relations of universals, and took the truths of logic to be primary examples. One feature common to all these suggestions including Kants, is the view that all a priori propositions are necessary and, conversely, that all a posteriori propositions are contingent.2 I will refer to this as the traditiona l view. It can be expressed in th e claim that all instances of (T) are true. (T) It is necessary that p it is a priori that p Up until the last half of the Twentieth Ce ntury, this was the accepted view regarding the relation between the a priori and the necessary. The Challenge to the Traditional View The traditional view came under attack starting with the work of Saul Kripke. In his book Naming and Necessity which began as a series of lectures at Princet on in 1970, Kripke presents a number of apparent examples of a posteriori truths which are necessary and a priori truths which are contingent. Since then the number and range of such examples has grown and it is now generally held that the re lation between necessity and a priority is not nearly as close as the traditional picture suggests. For example, Scott Soames (2003, p. 372) writes: 2 Kripke talks as though a priori and necessary were taken to be synonymous, bu t I havent come across any evidence to suggest that the relation was taken to be anything stronger than necessarily extensional equivalence.

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11 From our perspective today, we can see that not all necessary truths are a priori, not all a priori truths are necessary, and not all members of either class are transparently so. In a similar vein, Paul Boghossian and Christopher Peacocke (2000, p. 31), write: Being a priori is to be sh arply distinguished from be ing necessary. Examples, and reflection on the nature of the properties, bot h show that there are a priori propositions which are not necessary. Kripke and Kaplan supplied conclusive examples. Conversely, in the presence of examples of the necessary a posteriori, it is clea r that a propositions being necessary does not ensu re that it is a priori. The following is a list of some of th e putative examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori Necessary APosteriori Hesperus is Phosphorus Water is H2O Actually, Kripke is a philosopher If Earth exists, then Earth is a physical object Contingent APriori All actual philosophers are philosophers If someone wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence then the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence wrote something. If someone wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence then dthat(the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence)3 wrote something. S is one meter long at t (for someone who fixes one meter by reference to the length of S at t) I will take up each of these examples and why th ey are thought to have the modal and epistemic status suggested in the body of this thesis. Thesis and Strategy My aim is to show, not only that the standard examples of a p osteriori necessity and a priori contingency arent counterexamples to the tr aditional view, but also that they rest on a 3 The expression dthat(the F) is a term introduced by David Kaplan (1978) which by stipulation refers directly, in the sense of contributing only an object to the proposition expressed by a sentence contai ning it, namely, the object, if any, which is the denotation of the F'. See Chapter 3 for discussion.

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12 common confusion, that of failing to recognize th e role the linguistic vehicle plays in the suggested epistemic status of such examples. Th e strategy is as follows. I begin by pointing out a puzzle that arises in all such cas es: for each alleged counterexample, C the considerations which are taken to show that C is necessary/contingent entail that there are two sentences which express the same proposition though when considered, as it we re, under the aspect of one sentence is said to be a priori and under the aspect of the other is said to be a posteriori This results in three inconsistent claims of the following form. It is a priori that p It is not a priori that q That p = that q Claims (i)-(iii) imply that th ere is a proposition which is a priori and not a priori Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the three claims must be rejected. I will ar gue that, in each case, rejecting either of two of the three clai ms rules out the example as a co unterexample to the traditional view, while rejecting the third is untenable. If this is right, then, in each case, we can show that we do not after all have a counter example to the traditional view. I will begin, in Chapter 2, by considering alle ged cases of a posteriori identities, those involving proper names as well as so -called theoretical identities i nvolving natural kind terms. In Chapter 3, Ill look at examples that arise from the use of actual and actually as well as related cases involving Kaplans d that operator. Chapte r 4 deals with exampl es that appeal to essential properties. In Chapter 5, I will consider the sorts of cases that arise from stipulative reference fixing, such as Kripkes example of th e standard meter bar in Paris. In the final chapter, Chapter 6, Ill lay out the argument sket ched above in greater de tail and then conclude by noting some striking linguistic similarities th at all such examples seem to share which suggests an explanation to the in itial puzzle: the modal status of each example is based on the

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13 proposition expressed whereas the epistemic status is based, at least in part, on knowledge about the terms used to express it.

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14 CHAPTER 2 IDENTITY STATEMENTS Kripke (1980) argued famous ly that certain identity statements of the form a is b , where a and b are proper names, such as (1) and (2), if true, are necessari ly true and true a posteriori (1) Hesperus is Phosphorus (2) Butch Cassidy is Robert LeRoy Parker They are said to be necessarily true because it is assumed that, for any x and y, if x = y then necessarily x = y. Call this the identity thesis (I). (I) (x)(y)(x = y x = y) According to Kripke, (I) is a thesis about objects: It was clear from (x) (x = x) and Leibnizs law that identity is an internal relation: (x)(y)(x = y x = y). (What pairs (x, y) could be counter examples? Not pairs of distinct objects, for then the antecedent is false; nor any pair of an object and itself, for then the consequent is true.)4 Cases like (1) and (2) are said to be examples of the latter, for th e pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus) is a pair of an object and itself and the same goes for the pair (Robert LeRoy Parker, Butch Cassidy).5 It follows, then, in conjunction with (I), that (1) and (2) expres s necessary truths. On the other hand, such examples are said to be a posteriori because knowledge of them is not a matter of reasoning alone, but requires some empirical wor k. As Frege pointed out, it was considered a great astronomical discovery that Hesperus is Phosphorus. And it apparently came as a surprise to many that Butch Cassidy was Robert LeRoy Parker because, according to wanted posters, he was someone else.6 4 Ibid. (p. 3). 5 I am assuming here that proper names refer directly; later in this chapter, I will consider the implications of a Fregean view of proper names in such contexts. 6 According to wanted posters, Butch Cassidy was George Parker.

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15 However, it is difficult to see why such examples are said to be a posteriori given the argument that they are necessary. For example, if, as suggested, (1) is true because of (I) then it is true because the pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus ) is the same pair as (Hesperus, Hesperus) likewise, if (2) is true because of (I), it is true because the pair (Robert LeRoy Parker, Butch Cassidy) is the same pair as (Butch Cassidy, Butc h Cassidy). If this is right, then presumably (1) and (1b) express the same proposition. (1b) Hesperus is Hesperus So there is a puzzle here: the reasons for thinki ng that (1) is necessarily true require that it express the same proposition as (1b) yet the former is said to express an a posteriori truth whereas the latter is genera lly thought to expresses an a priori truth. How do we account for this? It seems to me that ther e are two possibilities but neither accommodates the view that examples like (1) and (2) are cases of a posteriori necessity. One explanation is the Fregean line that th e difference between sentences of the form a is b and a is a is due to some difference in cognitive content. For example, Hesperus is Phosphorus may be held to express an a posteriori truth because there are distinct senses7 associated with Hesperus and Phosphorus, which go into the propositions expressed by the sentence, and it takes some empirica l investigation to see that they pick out the same object. But, while this view captures the intuiti on that the proposition expressed is a posteriori it seems in conflict with the reasons for supposing it is nece ssary. For example, if an accurate account of what (1) expresses is something like (1c), (1c) The first star visible in the evening is the first star visible in the morning 7 Here sense can be taken as a general placeholder for any of the usual candidates: definite descriptions, modes of presentation, primary intensions, etc.

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16 then (1) is contingent (if true) because the descrip tions the first star visible in the evening and the first star visible in the morning are not ne cessarily coextensive. A rigidified description account would avoid this difficulty. This sort of account would invoke modifiers that in effect turn definite descriptions into expressions which designate the same object in every possible wo rld. A common way of doing this is by prefixing the nominal of a definite description with the term actual. For example, the description the actual first star visible in the evening is said to pick out the sa me object in every possible world. If this is right, then (1d) expresses a necessary truth. (1d) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual fi rst star visible in the morning. However, there are problems with this respons e on behalf of someone who holds that (1) expresses an a posteriori and necessary proposition. For one thing, those who accept that such examples are necessary and a posteriori tend to reject description th eories of proper names. This was part of the motivation, in fact, for seeing sent ences such as (1) as e xpressing necessary truths in the first place. So it is unlikely they would be willing to endorse such an account. For another thing, in Naming and Necessity Kripke made a convincing case against description theories in general. Perhaps the most obvious problem is that proper names dont appear to be semantically equivalent to definite descriptions. For instan ce, its not required for competency in the name Aristotle that one associate any definite desc ription, rigid or not, w ith Aristotle (e.g., suppose its suggested that Aristotle is equivalent to the descripti on the (actual) man who taught Alexander the Great; one could fail to know that Aristotle taught Alexan der the Great, yet be able to use and understand sentences containing the name Aristotle). In th e next chapter, I will argue that a further problem for th e rigidified description account is that the use of actual, and other such rigidifier s, give rise to the very same puzzle that arises in the ca se of proper names.

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17 The other option is to say that what is a posteriori is that the terms flanking the identity sign coreferthus, the idea is that (1) is a pos teriori because it is about, in part, the terms included in it. One problem with th is line is that it forces us to give up the intuitive view that identity claims are about the referents of the c ontained terms. And, again, examples like (1) and (2) are supposed to be necessary because of (I), which is a metaphysical thesis, not a linguistic thesis. As Kripke (ibid. pp. 107-108) points out, If you say for every x and y, if x = y then necessarily x = y, or something like thatno names o ccur in that statement at all, nor is anything said about names. So, while the metalinguistic suggestion accounts for the intuition that such examples are a posteriori, it is at odds with the reasons given for thinking that theyre necessary. If these statements were even in part about the names, why should they be necessary? It is surely a contingent matter whether two names corefer.8 Natural Kinds Similar considerations raise difficulties for the view that theoretical identity claims involving natural kind terms are necessary a posteriori If we assume, with Kripke and Putnam, that the quantifiers in the identity thesis range ov er natural kinds as well as particulars, then the suggestion that theoretical identity cl aims like (3) and (4) are examples of a posteriori necessity results in the same puzzle.9 (3) Water is H2O (4) Gold is AU 8 This worry is insurmountable when we turn to true identity statements made using demonstratives such as this is that. Clearly those very uses of the demonstratives might have picked out things different from the ones they picked out. So even if some story could be told about proper names, it would not be general enough to handle the problem. 9 I will not have anything to say in this thesis about the status of these examples if natural kinds terms are taken not to be analogous to names. Thus, my conclusion here is conditional on the assumption that natural kinds terms function like names of properties.

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18 If (3) and (4) are said to be necessarily true because they are instances of (I) then they are necessarily true in virtue of expressing the same propositions as (3b) and (4b), respectively. (3b) Water is water (4b) Gold is gold Yet (3) and (4) are alleged to express a posteriori truths whereas (3b) and (4b) are true a priori The same solutions we considered in the case of proper names are available here, with the same consequences. Either what is motivati ng the view that theoretical identities are a posteriori is the thought that there are dis tinct senses associated with th e natural kind terms flanking the identity sign, or it is th e thought that it is not a priori that such terms pick out the same natural kinds. But, by parity of reasoning, neither solution appears to be compatible with the claims that such examples are necessarily true. In this chapter, I have been concerned with pointing out that there is a genuine puzzle that arises in the cases of identity statements whic h are said to be a posteriori and necessary. The puzzle is that given the reasons for thinking th at such examples are counterexamples to the traditional view leads to the view that ther e are two sentences which express the same proposition though looking at it the one way and th e other lead to different judgments as to whether the proposition is a priori or a posteriori. In the following ch apters, I aim to show that all the alleged putative counterexample s give rise to the same puzzle.

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19 CHAPTER 3 ACTUAL, ACTUALLY, DTHAT The Actual F It is worth noting at the outset of this chapte r that some philosophers hold that actual and actually do not make any difference to the moda l status of propositions expressed by sentences containing them.10 If this view is correct, then none of the examples we will consider in this chapter present problems for the traditional view. The purpose of this chapter is to show that, even if actual and actually do affect the modal status of sentences/propositions they are involved with in the way often assumed, the standa rd examples involving them can be shown to result in the same puzzle that arises in re gards to proper names and natural kind terms. In certain contexts, the use of actual and actually is said to result in cases of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency. Consider an exam ple offered by Soames (2005, p. 31): (5) If someone wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence then the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence wrote something. Contrast (5) with (5*) (5*) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence th en the person who wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence wrote something. This is (presumably) necessarily true, whereas (5) is said to be contingent. The reason is that the description in (5*), viz., the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence is non-rigid, i.e., it does not designate the same individual in every possible world, wher eas the description in (5), viz., the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Independe nce is said to be a rigid designator, i.e., to pick out the same individual in every possible world. If this is right then evidently the term actual is playing a part in indi viduating the proposition expressed by (5). If the proposition expressed by the sentence is what is evaluated at different possible worlds (which 10 Michael Jubien, for example.

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20 is the assumption we are operating under, as our question is whether there are propositions which are a priori but contingent), then what actual appears to do in su ch contexts is modify the predicates within its scope in such a way as to ha ve us only consider their (actual) extensions and disregard their intensions.11 In this sense, the actual F func tions in a way similar to Kaplans (1978) dthat operator: expressions of the form [dthat(the F)]12 work like directly referring terms in that nothing more is contributed to th e meaning of the sentence than the unique object denoted by [(the F)], even though there is a term appearing in it which has an intension, and our grasping its intension is relevant to our understanding what it picks out. In the actu al F, actual F functions to introduce just th e actual extension of F into the propositions, and then the denotation of the actual F is just the unique thing, if any, in the extension of F. The proposition expressed is individuated with respect not to the intens ion of F but with respect to its extension. Now, the consequent of (5) is said to be con tingently true because the actual denotation of the person who wrote the Decl aration of Independence might not have written anything. However, if this is what the consequent of (5) says, then prefixing the nominal of any contingently true description of Thomas Jefferson with actual and plugging it in the consequent should get the same result. Consider (6). (6) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independe nce then the actual third president of the US wrote something. If actual works as suggested, i.e., by narrowing our focus to just the ac tual extension of the predicate in its scope, then (5) and (6) expres s the same proposition; the consequent in each case 11 For a more detailed account of the semantics of actual and actually in modal contexts see Kirk Ludwigs A Conservative Modal Semantics with Applications to de re Necessities and Arguments for Coincident Entities. 12 I will be using the left [ and right ] square brackets for Quinean corner quotes.

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21 is about the same person, as the same extension is introduced into the proposition. But while (5) and (6) are contingent for the same reason, i.e., b ecause it is not necessary that the denotation of those descriptions wrote something, (6) it seems isnt true a priori Once again, we see the same kind of puzzle. Given the suggested counterexample, we are led to the view that there ar e two sentences which express th e same proposition though seen in relation to one it appears a priori and in relation to the ot her a posteriori. Kaplans Dthat Operator As I mentioned, when actual is added to the nominal of a definite description, it functions in a way similar to Kaplans dthat operator. Ag ain, expressions of the form [dthat(the F)] work like directly referring terms in that nothing more is contributed by it to the proposition expressed by a sentence containing it than the unique obj ect denoted by [(the F)]. We can express its function in a reference clause in which the de scription is deployed in the antecedent of a conditional to constrain the value of a variable, and the referent is given as the value of a variable: For any x, for any nominal N, the denotation of [(the N)] is x the referent of [dthat(the N)] is x. Designators of the form [the actual F] and [dth at(the F)] are said to be rigid designatorslike (directly referring) proper names, they pick out the same object in all possible worlds in which they have referents. It should be evident at this point why rigidified descriptio ns do not avoid the initial problem involving proper names and natural kind terms. Recall that in the question was raised as to how distinct identity sentences could be said to expre ss the same proposition yet differ with regard to being a priori / a posteriori For example, how can it be that (1), repeated here,

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22 (1) Hesperus is Phosphorus is true a posteriori and (1b), repeated here, (1b) Hesperus is Hesperus is true a priori if the sentences Hesperus is Phosphorus and Hesperus is Hesperus express the same proposition? One explanation was that (1) is true a posteriori because there are distinct senses/descriptions/intensions a ssociated with the names Hesperus and Phosphorus and it takes some empirical work to see that they tr ack the same object. The problem with this account was that it seemed to render (1) contingent. For if a co rrect account of what (1) expresses comes to something like The first star visible in the ev ening is the first star visible in the morning then it would not be necessarily true, because the descriptions flanking the identity sign (even fixing their meanings) do not necessarily denote the same object s. But now consider (8) and (9) as possible accounts of the proposition expressed by (1). (8) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual first star visible in the morning. (9) Dthat(the first star visible in the evening) is dthat(the firs t star visible in the morning). Would such rigidified descriptive accounts of (1) accommodate the view that it is necessary a posteriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus? No, because th e same puzzle arises w ith respect to these examples. Take (8). If (8) is necessarily true, it is so because it says that a particular object bears the identity relation to itself. And this is a fact independent of how the obj ect is picked out. Thus, if (8) is necessarily true, it expresses the same proposition as (10). (10) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual first star visible in the evening. But (10) is presumably a priori not a posteriori so this line leads to the same problem we began with: two sentences express the same proposition though in relation to one of them we want to say the proposition is a posteriori and in relation to the other that it is a priori

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23 Likewise, if (9) is necessarily true, then it expresses the same proposition as (11). (11) Dthat(the first star visible in th e evening) is dthat(the first star visi ble in the evening). But whereas (9) would have to be true a posteriori to account for the ini tial puzzle, there doesnt seem to be any reason to suppose that (11) is true a posteriori Thus, appealing to rigidified descriptive acc ounts of proper names to address the initial problem doesnt work. Evidently, then, the correc t explanation of why ex amples like (1)-(4) are said to be a posteriori must appeal to the alternative suggestion th at knowledge about the linguistic vehicle is playing a ro le in such cases. We will exam ine this suggestion in greater detail in the final chapter. All Actual Fs are Fs There are also examples where the use of actual is said to result in contingent a priori truths. Compare (12) and (13). (12) All philosophers are philosophers. (13) All actual philosophers are philosophers. (12) appears to be necessarily true and a priori ; however, (13) is supposedly contingent and true a priori The idea here is usually brought out by appeal to possible worlds. Fo r example, (13) is analyzed as (13b), where @ represents the actual world: (13b) (x)(x is a philosopher in @ x is a philosopher) This is contingent because there are possible worlds where it is false. Thus, actual appears to do the same work here as above: it narrows our focus to the actual extension of the predicate in its scope. For instance, (13) says of a some particular individuals those people who happen to be philosophers that they are philosophers, and this is a contingent truth sin ce it is not necessarily the case that all (or some) of those individuals are philosopher s. But notice that the same problem arises here: if this is what (13) says then it is difficult to see why it is thought to be true

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24 a priori, because it is not an a priori truth that those individuals who happen to be philosophers are philosophers. Take a similar case. (14) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents. If actual works as suggested, th en here actual is modifying B rooklyn residents in such a way as to have us only consider its actual extension, i.e., those individuals w ho happen to be residents of Brooklyn, and it isnt necessari ly the case that those indivi duals are Brooklyn residents. However, it isnt a priori either, that those people are Br ooklyn residents. Consider (15). (15) All actual Kings County re sidents are Brooklyn residents. If (14) is said to be contingent because it is about the actual extension of Brooklyn residents then (14) and (15) express the same proposition (the actual resi dents of Brooklyn and the actual residents of Kings County are the sa me). But (15) it seems isnt true a priori (many Brooklyn residents dont know (15) is true). So it appe ars we have another case where two sentences express the same proposition, though considered in relation to one we want to treat it as a priori while considered in relation to the other we want to take it to be a posteriori Actually, P Another formula for generating putative examples of necessary a posteriori truths is Actually, P, where P is replaced by a senten ce expressing a contingent truth, for example, (16). (16) Actually, Ted Kennedy is a Massachusetts senator. In such cases, actually is sa id to function as a modal operato r, and, since all (true) modal sentences are necessarily true, instances like (16) are said to express ne cessary truths. As with the previous example, the idea here is usually expressed in terms of po ssible worlds; (16), for example, is analyzed as (16b), (16b) Ted Kennedy is a Massachusetts senator in @.

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25 which, if true, is true in every possible worl d. Evidently, on this suggestion, actually does the same work as actual: in effect, it narrows our fo cus to just the actual extension of the predicate, disregarding its intension. For instance, suppose we introduce the te rm menator as follows with the understanding that its meaning is exhausted by its extension. (x)(x is a menator iff x is J ohn Kerry or x is Ted Kennedy) Using this term gets us the same result(1 7) expresses the same proposition as (16). (17) Ted Kennedy is a menator. However, (17) is presumably true a priori for us since it is true by s tipulation that menator is true of Ted Kennedy or John Kerry; anyone familia r with the procedure fo r introducing the term menator knows that (17) is true a priori Another way of achieving this effect, of a se ntence that expresses th e same proposition as (16) but in relation to which we want to say, in contrast to (1 6), that what is expressed is knowable a priori is by introducing a special form of predicate which makes the extension of the predicate explicit and is unders tood to contribute only the exte nsion that it makes explicit. We introduce the predicate form, [ext( 1, 2, 3, ,)], which functions as follows, letting 1, 2, 3, range over proper names. For any 1, 2, 3, and any x1, x2, x3, if Ref( 1) = x1, Ref( 2) = x2, Ref( 3) = x3, then [ext( 1, 2, 3, ,)] is true of x x = x1 or x = x2 or x = x3 or. Here we take this to be givi ng extensionally the satisfaction c onditions for the predicate form. Now, given the way [ext( 1, 2, 3, ,)] works, (18) expresses th e same proposition as (16). (18) Ted Kennedy is an ext(Ted Kennedy, John Kerry). This is perhaps a better example for our purposes than (17) because it makes explicit in a way available to anyone who understand s the sentence the information about (17) that is available only to the ones privy to the intr oduction of the term. We can as it were read off from (18) that

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26 the proposition it expresses is tr ue: one who understands how [ext( 1, 2, 3, ,)] works can look at (18) and know it to be true a priori even without knowing the re ferent of Ted Kennedy. So, again, we have a systematic way of going from a class of sentences which are supposed to provide examples of necessary a posteriori sentences to sentences expressing the same proposition which seem to be knowable a priori I have argued that the view that the examples in this chapter have the modal status they are said to suggests that actual a nd actually behave in such a way as to restrict our attention to just the extensions of the predic ates in their scope. If this is right, then the reasons given for supposing that such examples are necessary/continge nt leads to the same puzzle as with identity statementsnamely, that there are two sentence s which express the sa me proposition yet which in relation to one seems a priori and in relation to the other a posteriori

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27 CHAPTER 4 STATEMENTS ABOUT ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES Consider sentences of the form if a exists then F a , where F is thought to express an essential property of a and a property that cannot be known a priori to be instantiated by a for example: (19) If Earth exists then Earth is a physical object. This appears to be necessarily true and true a posteriori The view that it is necessarily true rests on the claim that For any x, if x is a physical object, then necessa rily if x exists, x is a physical object.and the fact that Earth is physica l object. It appears to be a posteriori because we cannot know a priori that Earth is a physical objec t, because this requires knowi ng among other things that it exists, and we cannot know that it exists a priori It seems to me there is an intuitively comp elling way of seeing that something is going on here which is very similar to what is going on in the alleged cases of a posteriori identity. Lets assume, as suggested, th at (19) is not true a priori Now, imagine that elsewhere in the galaxy there is a planet (call it Planet-X ) much like Earth. For the sake of simplicity, assume that people there speak a language similar to English in that it shares the same grammar and most of the same terms, and all the non-referri ng terms have the same intensions.13 However, due to certain physical limitations, the astronomers on Planet-X cannot observe Earth with their instruments (perhaps other celestial objects ar e always aligned in such a way as to block direct observation). Nonetheless, their observations of the behavior of other celestial bodies in our solar system lead them to posit a planet with roughly Earths physical properties and orbit. Further, suppose that 13 It can be thought of analogous to Twin English in Putnams Twin Earth thought experiments.

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28 they give the planet a name, say, Shmearth. Intu itively, in this scenario (19) and (20) express the same proposition. (20) If Shmearth exists then Shmearth is a physical object.14 In this case, the referent of E arth is the referent of Shmearth we can imagine the denizens of Planet-X eventually developing the technology to obser ve Earth directly (or ev en travel to Earth) at which time they would conclude that Shmear th exists. And this in conjunction with certain linguistic knowledge, specifi cally, the knowledge that Earthlings use the name Earth to refer to what they call Shmearth woul d put them in a position to se e that Earth and Shmearth corefer. The crucial point is that, due to th e manner in which Shmear th is introduced, the astronomers on Planet-X know (20) to be true wit hout further investigation; in positing Shmearth to account for the behavior of other physical objects, they, in effect, stipul ate that, if Shmearth exists, Shmearth is a physical object. For the Planet-X astronomers, (20) is a priori Thus, if (19) is a posteriori as suggested, then, once again, we have a case where two sentences express the same propositi on which in relation to one appear s to differ in regards to its status as a priori in relation to the other. Another example of this sort involves complex demonstratives. Take (23). (23) This table is made of wood. It is often assumed that anything that is made of wood is esse ntially made of wood.15 Thus, if the demonstrative phrase this table in (23) picks out an object which is made of wood, then (23) is 14 Similarly, if, like Le Verrier, another astronomer had hypothesized the existence of a planet to explain the observed perturbations in Mercurys orbit but called it by another name, say, Shmulcan then (21) and (22) could have been said to express the same proposition: (21) If Vulcan exists then Vulcan is a physical object. (22) If Shmulcan exists then Shmulcan is a physical object. 15 This is questionable. We can imagine, over time, the ta ble going through a process of petrifaction and turning to stone (thanks to Kirk Ludwig for this example). A better example may be this table was originally made of wood.

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29 necessarily true.16 On the other hand, (23) appears to be a posteriori because it would require some examination of the table to see that it is made of wood. But consider (24). (24) This wood table is made of wood. Assuming that the demonstratives this table in (23) and this wood table in (24) function as directly referring terms,17 (23) and (24) express the same proposition but, unlike (23), (24) appears to be a priori Thus, these examples that appeal to essential properties give rise to the same puzzle we have been noting all along: we can find differe nt sentences which express the same proposition but our intuitions about the a prioricity of the proposition differ in relation to the different sentences. 16 There is an existential concern in such casese.g., it isnt necessary that the table exists For the purposes of this paper, I will assume that this can be avoided by conditionalizing the examplese.g.: if this table exists then it is made of wood. 17 Complex demonstratives are often treated as directly re ferring terms. On this view, the nominal in the complex demonstrative doesnt contribute to the truth conditions of the sentence in which it oc curs. Kaplan (1978), McGinn (1981), Peacocke (1981), and Da vies (1982), e.g., each take this line. In contrast, Richard (1993) and Lepore and Ludwig (2000) argue that the nominal contributes to the truth conditions of the sentence. On the latter view (23) and (24) do not express the same proposition. Even if this is right, there could be terms that function in the way Kaplan et. al. think actual complex demonstratives function, so the point can still be made.

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30 CHAPTER 5 REFERENCE FIXING In Naming and Necessity Kripke suggests that (25), wher e S is a name for the standard meter bar in Paris, is a contingent a priori truth, at least for the person who fixes the unit of one meter in relation to S at t (25) S is one meter long at time t18 It is said to be contingent because it is not necessarily the case that S is one meter long at t It is supposed to be true a priori for the person who fixes the standard because one who fixes one meter by reference to S knows that whatever length S is a t that length will be one meter long. (More specifically, the reference fixing definition for one meter is something like: x is one meter long iff x has the same length that S has at t And it is a priori that S has the same length at t that S has at t .) There is a puzzle about this case, though. Fo r it seems that the person who fixes one meter in this way, though he is sa id to know that (25) is true a priori doesnt know what length one meter picks out a priori, and thus arguably doesnt know what proposition is expressed by (25) It is part of the story that, for all the fixer knows a priori the length of S may vary, due to certain physical conditions at a ny given time. But suppose the length of S doesnt actually vary between the time he decides to fix one me ter by reference to the length of S at t and the time t ; in other words at any time prior to t t the length of S is identical to the length of S at t Now, even if the fixer knows the length of S at t (say he has measured it using imperial units) he is not in a position to assert S at t is one meter even though it is the same length as S at t, which 18 There is an existential worry about this example and ot hers like it. Presumably, S could be destroyed prior to t in which case (25) isnt knowable a priori because it isnt a priori that S exists at t This can be finessed by conditionalizing the example by prefixing it with if S exists at t . For simplicity, I am presenting the example in its original form.

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31 he supposedly knows a priori This suggests that he does no t know what length one meter picks out, for otherwise he could know that S at t is one meter because he knows its length. An analogous case may make this clearer. Suppose the owner of a paint store decides to develop a new color of paint to sell, which he s tipulates will be called color X. He assigns the task of coming up with the new color to his a ssistant who will carry out the task by mixing a number of existing paints in th e back room. We can assume that the owner of the store has full confidence in his assistants judgment, so that whatever color the assistant decides upon will be sold as the new color of paint, and, hence, will be the color X. By the end of the day, say, time t there will be several pails of the new paint on displa y in the front of the store. Now, what is the epistemological status of (26) for the owner of the store in this scenario? (26) The paint on display in the front of the store at t is color X paint.19 It seems he knows it a priori because it seems that one who fixe s the reference of color X in this way knows, without doing any empirical work, that whatever color the new line of paint on display is, at t it is the color X. However, what is pu zzling about this case is that the owner clearly does not know a priori what property is picked out by color X. For instance, suppose, after the assistant comes up with the new color, he presents the owner with a number of different colored swatches, among them one that the assist ant decided is the new color, color X. Would the owner be able to pick outpr ior to being told by the assistantwhich swatch is the color X? Presumably not. For all he knows any one of the sw atches, or none of them, is the color X. So there is a puzzle here about what exactly the paint stor e owner is supposed to know a priori there is a sense in which he actually doe snt know the proposition expressed by (26) a priori because he does not grasp the proposition expresse d; the idea is that, in order to grasp the 19 There is an existential worry here as well, but we can conditionalize on the existence of the paint the employee has mixed and put on display in the front of the store to elimin ate this problem, so I will pr oceed without th e elaboration.

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32 proposition, he must grasp the meaning of the pr edicate is color Xin this case, it doesnt appear that the shop owner grasps the meaning of is color X, a nd, thus, it doesnt seem correct to say that he knows what proposition is expre ssed by (26). A more plausible suggestion, I think, for what the owner knows in this case is th at the color of the paint on display at t whatever color it happens to bewill be designated by the term color X. Similarly, in the case of one who fixes one meter by reference to S, it seems more accurate to say that what he knows is not (25), but rather th at the length S at t whatever length that happens to bewill be designated by the term one meter. Thus, it appears that his knowledge is after all metalinguistic, knowledge that a sentence expresses a propos ition that is true, and not kn owledge of the proposition the sentence expresses. The metali nguistic knowledge he has isnt so mething he requires empirical knowledge to support because he is the person who introduces the term in a way that guarantees the truth of the sentence. So all he has to know (existential worries aside) is that he has done so. If this is right, it clearly shows that these cases are not cases of contingent a priori knowledge of propositions. Apart from this, another problem with the one meter case is that it gives rise to the same puzzle weve been considering. Let us assume, with Kripke, that (25) is a priori for the person fixing the reference of one meter in this way. It also appears to be contingent. For instance, suppose that, at t S is 39.37 inches long (the equivalent of one meter in in ches). This would clearly be a contingent truth since S might have been shorte r or longer than 39.37 inches at t However, notice that this consid eration presupposes that (25), in this scenario, expresses the same proposition as (27). (27) S is 39.37 inches long at time t

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33 But, while (27) is clearly con tingent, it cannot be said to be a priori for the person fixing one meter in this scenario, since for all he knows, pr ior to measuring S, it may be longer or shorter than 39.37 inches at time t So, once again, we have a case where two sentences express the same proposition though the proposition seems to differ in its a prioricity relative to the different sentences that express it. Well return to this case in the following chapter.

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34 CHAPTER 6 THE ROLE OF THE LINGUISTIC VEHICLE Up until this point, I have been concerned with pointing out a puzzle that arises in regards to the putative examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency : for each example, the considerations which are taken to show that the example is necessary/contingent provide the resources to show that there are two senten ces which express the same proposition though the proposition taken in relation to the different se ntences seems to differ intuitively in its a prioricity. The upshot is that each case leads to three inconsistent claims of the following form. (i) It is a priori that p (ii) It is not a priori that q (iii) That p = that q (i)-(iii) imply that there is a proposition which is a priori and not a priori (even in cases in which we relativize a prioricity to an individual). Thus, on pain of c ontradiction, one of the three claims must be rejected. In this chapte r, I will argue that, in each case, rejecting either of two of the three claims rules out the example as a counterex ample to the traditiona l view, while rejecting the third is untenable. I initially stated the tr aditional view in terms of propositi ons: any instance of (T) is true. (T) It is necessary that p it is a priori that p. But we have seen that there are difficulties with the suggestion that the putative examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency are counterexamples to the traditional view. Consider claims (a) and (b). (a) It is a priori that Hesperus is Hesperus. (b) It is not a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. Intuitively, (a) is about a certain proposition: th e proposition that Hesperus is Phosphorus, and (b) is about a certain proposition: the proposition that Hesperus is Hesperus But this leads to problems when we consider the questi on whether (a) and (b) are about the same proposition. If

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35 they are then we have a contradiction: (a) and (b) say that the same proposition is both a priori and not a priori Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the following three claims must be false. (a) It is a priori that Hesperus is Hesperus. (b) It is not a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. (c) That Hesperus is Hesperus is the same proposition as that Hesperus is Phosphorus. If we reject (b) or (c) then (1) Hesperus is Phosphorus is not, as suggested, a case of a posteriori necessity. As we saw in the reason for holding that Hesperus is Phosphorus is necessary is that it is the same proposition as that Hesperus is Hesperus. For suppose it is not. In that case, the pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus) are distinct objects and hence it is not the case that Hesperus is Phosphorus and hence not necessary that Hesperus is Phosphorus. In other words, the basis for thinking that (1) is necessary en tails that (c) is true. Thus, unless there is some other reason to think (1 ) is necessary, there is no basis for rejecting (c) and it is difficult to see what other grounds one might have fo r holding that (1) is necessary. On the other hand, if (b) is rejected then (1) is not a posteriori So rejecting (b) or (c) is tantamount to rejecting that (1) is both necessary and a posteriori That leaves (a). However, Hesperus is Hesper us is an instance of the logical truth (x)(x = x), which is a typical example of an a priori truthsuch examples ar e generally cited in contrast to the alleged cases of a posteriori identity. Rejecting (a) doe s not strike me as a plausible choice because it threatens to undermine the a priori / a posteriori distinction altogether; if propositions expressed by sentences of the form a = a are not true a priori it is difficult to see how a case could be made for anything being true a priori .20 20 Or at least, as I noted in 1, note 15, propositions expr essed by sentences of the form: if a exists, then a = a.

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36 Similar considerations present a problem for alleged cases of a priori contingency. Take (d)-(f). (d) It is a priori that all actual Brooklyn resi dents are Brooklyn residents. (e) It is not a priori that all actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents. (f) That all actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents is the same proposition as the proposition that all actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents. Consider (14) again. (14) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents. If (d) is false then (14) is not true a priori On the other hand, if (f) is false then (14) is not contingent for the reasons it is said to be. Ag ain, that all actual Br ooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents is said to be contingent because it isnt necessary that the actual residents of Brooklyn, i.e., those individuals who happen to be re sidents of Brooklyn, are Brooklyn residents (in possible worlds talk: it isnt th e case that the residents of Br ooklyn in the actual world are Brooklyn residents in every possible world). Such instances of the fo rm all actual Fs are Fs are contrasted with things of the form all Fs ar e Fs which are said to be necessary (e.g., omitting actual in (14) results in a necessarily true sent ence). Evidently, then, what actual does is have us consider (i.e., inject into the proposition only) the actual exte nsion of the predicate in its scope, ignoring its intension. We can see why su ch cases are usually presented in terms of possible worlds, because this in effect gets the sa me result; when we are asked to consider the Fs in the actual world we consider just those object s which happen to be Fs and evaluate claims containing actual Fs accordingly. But then any predicate which is true of those objects when prefixed with actual should ge t this result. For example, the objects picked out by actual Kings County residents are the very sa me objects picked out by actual Brooklyn residents. Thus (14) and (15) say the same thing about the same individuals. (15) All actual Kings County re sidents are Brooklyn residents.

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37 And this is just to say that (14) and (15) express the same propositi on. If not, then (f) is false. But then it is not clear why one would think (14) is contingently true, since it was said to be contingent for the same reason that (15) is: because it is not necessary that the individuals picked out by actual Brooklyn residents /actual Kings County resident s are Brooklyn residents. In other words, if (14) is contingent for the reasons suggested, then (f) is true Thus, if it is not the case that (f) is true, then (14) is not contingent for the reasons given (and, again, it is difficult to see what other reasons one might have for holding that (14) is contingent). The other option is to reject (e). But it is not at all clear what would justify this; I do not know the majority of Kings County residents, so it is difficult to see how I could be said to know a priori that they are residents of Brooklyn (or re sidents of Kings County for that matter). Thus, the most plausible candidates for rejecti on require giving up the view that (14) is a counterexample to th e traditional view. Sentences vs. Propositions The preceding arguments assume that being a priori and being a posteriori are fundamentally properties of propositions. On this view, sentences (relativ e to a language) are true a priori only in a derivative sensetheyre true a priori in virtue of e xpressing propositions which are a priori But suppose this is incorrect. Suppose in stead that sentences are the rightful bearers of a prioricity Does this go any way towards savi ng the view that there are genuine examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency? It does insofar as it avoids the consequence that there are propositions which are both a priori and not a priori However, it is not clear how to explicate this suggestion in a way that would avoid th e initial puzzle. What would it mean to say that being a priori is fundamentally a prope rty of sentences? The idea would have to be spelled out presumably in terms of knowing a sentence to be true (or false) in virtue of its semantic and synt actic properties, for example:

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38 (S) A sentence s is true a priori (in L) iff s is knowably true (i n L) in virtue of the meaning of its contained terms and their arrangement. But now the puzzle we began with can be recast in terms of synonymy. Consider claims (g)-(i). (g) Hesperus is Hesperus is true a priori. (h) Hesperus is Phosphorus is not true a priori. (i) Hesperus is Hesperus and Hespe rus is Phosphorus are synonymous. According to (S), a sentence is true a priori iff it is knowably true in virtue of its form and content. But if (i) is true, which, as shown, is required for the argument for the claim that Hesperus is Phosphorus is necessarily true,21 then Hesperus is Phosphorus and Hesperus is Hesperus do not differ in content (and they dont di ffer with respect to thei r syntactic form). So while this line avoids explicit contradiction it does not go any way towards accounting for the initial puzzle as to how two sent ences which say the same thing can differ with respect to being a priori / a posteriori .22 Freges Puzzle The puzzle that arises in these cases, it seems to me, is just a variant of Freges. Frege (1892, p. 199) was concerned with the apparent difference in cognitive significance between identity sentences which express the same proposition: a = a and a = b are sentences of obviously di fferent cognitive significance: a = a is valid a priori and according to Kant is to be called analytic, whereas sentences of the form a = b often contain very va luable extensions of our know ledge and cannot always be justified in an a priori manner. This is a puzzle about proper names. What the putative examples of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency seem to show is that, in additi on to names, the same puzzle can arise with other expressions. 21 In conjunction with schema (SP) from the preliminary section. 22 Another problem with this line is that it comes close to accounting for a prioricity in terms of analyticity, but many of the same alleged counterexamples are said to show that analyticity and a prioricity are to be sharply distinguished.

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39 Definite descriptions: If someone wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence then the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence wrote something. If someone wrote the Declaration of Independen ce then the actual third president of the US wrote something. Indexicals: This table is made of wood. This wood table is made of wood. And predicates: All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents. All actual Kings County reside nts are Brooklyn residents. In each case, we have two sentences which appare ntly differ in cognitive value: one appears to be informative whereas the other appears to be trivial. (The analog to the distinction between being informative and trivial, for present purposes, is the a posteriori / a priori distinction.) Frege considered two solutions to the puzzle, a metalinguistic soluti on, which he rejected, and his own solution which involved distinguishing between the referent of a term and its sense. The metalinguistic solution would interpret H esperus is Phosphorus as something like Hesperus refers to the same object as Phospho rus. The problem with this line, according to Frege (1892), is that Hesperus is Phosphorus does nt appear to be about terms but rather about objectsas he points out, the tr uths expressed by such exampl es are often considered great discoveries about the world. His own so lution was to explain the nontrivial ( a posteriori ) aspect of such examples by positing distinct senses associ ated with the names fla nking the identity sign; for example, while the referent of Hesperu s and Phosphorus may be one and the same, Hesperus is Phosphorus may be informative ( a posteriori ) because it is possible to associate distinct senses with those names and not be in an epistemic position to see that they track the

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40 same objectfor instance, if one thinks of Hesperus as the first visible st ar in the night sky and Phosphorus as the first visible star in the morning sky then, on th is account, it doesnt follow that he knows a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus is true. As we have seen, neither solution is compatible with the view that the examples considered in this paper are genuine cases of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency. Earlier, we noted that Freges solution does not work becau se it either changes th e modal status of the example, making it compatible with (T), or it leads to the same puzzle in a new form ( 1-2). The metalinguistic solution, on the other hand, is problematic for the reason Frege pointed out: on the face of it, such examples do not appear to be about expressions. Moreover, the reasons given for the suggested modal status of each example rule out the metalinguistic solution: Hesperus is Phosphorus, for example, is said to express a necessary truth because it is an instance of the identity thesis which, as Kripke explicitly points out, is not a linguistic thesis; all actual philosophers are philosophers is said to be contingent becau se it is about individuals who happen to be philosophers ; S is one meter at t is said to be contingent because it is about an object which happens to be one meter long at t and so on. However, while the modal status of such examples does not appear to be language dependent, the epistemic status does; the exampl es seem to be examples of the contingent a priori or necessary a posteriori as the result of failing to se parate what is known about the proposition from what is known about the sentence expressing it, i.e., ab out its the linguistic vehicle. The considerations which are s upposed to show that a given example is necessary/contingent entail that there are (at least) two sentences wh ich express the same proposition yet in relation to each of which the proposition appears to differ with respect to a prioricity. If two sentences express the same proposition, then any difference in what we can

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41 know when we are thinking of a proposition in relation to one or the other must rest on something made available or not by the sentence s themselves. Thus, if it is true that each example has the modal status it is said to have, th en the linguistic vehicle appears to be playing a role in the suggestion th at such examples are a priori / a posteriori Consider again some of the examples of the a priori and a posteriori that we discussed. (1) Hesperus is Phosphorus ( a posteriori ) (1b) Hesperus is Hesperus ( a priori ) (2) water is H2O ( a posteriori ) (2b) Water is water ( a priori ) (3) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents ( a priori ) (3b) All actual Kings County re sidents are Brookl yn residents ( a posteriori ) (4) If someone wrote the Declaration of Indepe ndence then the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Independence wrote something (a priori) (4b) If someone wrote the Declaration of Inde pendence then the actual person who was the third president of the US wrote something ( a posteriori ) (5) Actually, John Kerry is a Massachusetts senator ( a posteriori ) (5b) John Kerry is an ext(John Kerry, Ted Kennedy) ( a priori ) There is a theme here: each example that is said to be a posteriori contains distinct expressions on either side of the copula (or in the case of (4 b) contains distinct term s in the antecedent and consequent), whereas each example which is said to be a priori contains identical expressions on either side of the copula (or, in (4) contains identical terms in the antecedent and consequent). This is the only linguistic difference between each pair. Thus, if, as suggested, each pair expresses the same proposition, then it appears to be this linguistic fact that is motivating the epistemic attributions in the alleged cases of a posteriori necessity and a priori contingency. Two cases we looked at appear to be exceptions to this: (19) If Earth exists then Earth is a physical object (a posteriori) (25) S is on meter long at time t ( a priori ) However, notice that in both of these examples what is a priori / a posteriori is relative to a certain individual or group of individuals (25), for instance, is supposed to be a priori for the

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42 person who fixes one meter by reference to S at t Presumably, (25) is not a priori for anyone else (unless he or she is privy to the decision to fix one meter in this way). But what is it that precludes others from knowing (25) to be true a priori ? It cant simply be that they dont know what one meter means because, assuming that the meaning of one meter is the length designated by that expression, the person who fixe s one meter in this way does not know what the term one meter means either, prior to t recall that it is part of th e story that the length of S may vary prior to t and, for all this person knows, the length designated by one meter may be longer or shorter than the length of S at some time t even if he knows the length of S at that time. Suppose someone else decided, independentl y, to create a system of measurement, say the shmetric system, and fixed one shmeter by re ference to the length of some other object, S2 at t In such a case, following Kripke s line of reasoning, (25*) is a priori for this person. (25*) S2 is one shmeter at t But now suppose that the lengths of S and S2 are identical at t In this scenario, one meter and one shmeter designate the same length, but th e metric user is not in a position to know a priori that (25*) is true, nor is the sh metric user in a position to know a priori that (25) is true. One way to account for this would be to say that (28) is not true a priori for either person. (28) One meter is one shmeter But, by hypothesis, (28) expresses the same propos ition as (29) and (30), which are (presumably) true a priori .23 (29) One meter is one meter (30) One shmeter is one shmeter 23 At the very least, (29) is true a priori for the metr ic user and (30) is a priori for the shmetric user.

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43 So it appears the linguistic vehicle is playing a role in this case as well. And notice that (28)-(30) exhibit the same characteristics as the earlie r examples: (29) and (30), which are true a priori contain identical terms flanking the copula whereas ( 28), which is said to be true a posteriori contains distinct terms flanking the copula. The same can be seen in the case of (19). (19) If Earth exists, then Earth is a physical object. Recall the Planet-X thought expe riment. In that scenario Ear th and Shmearth refer to the same object, yet, whereas (19) is supposedly true a posteriori (20) is true a priori (for the denizens of Planet-X). (20) If Shmearth exists, then Shmearth is a physical object. One way to explain this would be to say that the people on Planet -X dont know that (31) is true a priori (31) Shmearth is Earth But, by hypothesis, (31) expresses the sa me proposition as (32), which is true a priori (at least for those people on Planet-X).24 (32) Shmearth is Shmearth So it seems the linguistic vehicle is playing a ro le in this case too. And, again, we see the same characteristic: the a priori example, (32), contains identical terms, whereas the a posteriori example, (31), contains distinct terms. All this strongly suggests that the pu tative examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori are the result of failing to recognize the role the lingui stic vehicle plays in the suggested epistemic status of such examples. If this is right then we have a solution to the initial 24 And, again, barring the existential worry.

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44 puzzle as to how two sentences can express the same proposition/be synonymous yet differ as to being a priori / a posteriori : the epistemic status of such ex amples is not wholly based on knowledge of the proposition expressed/the meaning of the sentence, but rather it includes some metalinguistic knowledge (or lack thereof) regard ing the contained terms. The way one comes to know the proposition expressed by such sentences is mediated by the linguistic vehicle. Take an example. (1) Hesperus is Phosphorus (1b) Hesperus is Hesperus We can know that the proposition expressed by (1b) is true because the sentence expressing it is logically true. But logical truth is a property of sentences and is recognized by attention to sentence form. So knowledge that the propositi on is true rests not just on grasping the proposition but also on knowledge a bout the linguistic vehicle used to express it. (1) expresses the same proposition and we grasp it as well, but th e aid that the linguistic vehicle in (1b) gives to knowing it is true is missing he re. So what we know in the case of (1b) is essentially in part linguistic. Hence, there is no knowledge of the tr uth of the proposition directly in these cases. Conclusion In this paper, I have been concerned with pointing out a problem th at is common to the putative examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori I began by noting a puzzle that arises in each case: the considerations which are taken as evidence that the example is necessary/contingent leads to the view that th ere are two sentences which express the same proposition which differs as to being a priori / a posteriori when considered as expressed by one and the other. On the assumption th at propositions are the bearers of a prioricity, which is implicit in the traditional vi ew, this leads to contradict ion: there is a proposition, p such that it is a priori that p and it is not a priori that p I argued that the best wa y to avoid this is by denying

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45 that such examples are counterex amples to the traditional view. Finally, I noted a characteristic exhibited by all such examples which suggests an explanation for the in itial puzzle: the modal status of each example is based on the propositio n expressed whereas the epistemic status is not; instead, it appears that the linguistic vehicle is play ing a role in the view that such examples are a priori / a posteriori Thus, in these cases, there is no one th ing that has both the alleged epistemic and modal statuses which are to provide a coun terexample to the traditional alignment of a prioricity and necessity

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46 LIST OF REFERENCES Ayer, A. J. 1952: Language Truth & Logic New York: Dover Publications, Inc. Boghossian, Paul and Peacocke, Christopher 2000: New Essays on the A Priori New York: Oxford University Press. Cole, Peter (ed.) 1978: Syntax and Semantics New York: Academic Press. Davies, Martin 1982: Individuation and the Semantics of Demonstratives. Journal of Philosophical Logic 11, pp. 287-310. Fodor, Jerry 1998: Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong New York: Oxford University Press. Frege, Gottlob 1892: On Sense and Refere nce in A.P. Martinich (ed.) 2001: The Philosophy of Language New York: Oxford University Press. Kant, Immanuel 1781: Critique of Pure Reason New York: Everyman, 1935. Kaplan, David 1978: Dthat, in Cole 1978, pp. 221-53. Kripke, Saul 1980: Naming and Necessity Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Leibniz, Gottfried Willhelm 1714: Monadology, in Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber (ed. & trans.) 1989: Philosophical Essays Indianapolis: Hackett. Lepore, Ernest and Ludwig, Kirk 2000: T he Semantics and Pragmatics of Complex Demonstratives, Mind 109, pp. 199-240. Mates, Benson 1986: The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics & Language New York: Oxford University Press. McGinn, Colin 1981: The Mechanism of Reference, Synthese 49, pp. 157-86. Peacocke, Christopher 1981: Demonstrativ e Thought and Psychological Explanation, Synthese 49, pp. 187-217. Quine, W.V. 1953: Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In From a Logical Point of View Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 20-46. Richard, Mark 1993: Articulated Terms, in Tomberlin 1993, pp. 207-30. Russell, Bertrand 1931: The Problems of Philosophy New York: Oxford University Press. Soames, Scott 2003: Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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47 Soames, Scott 2005: Reference and Description : The Case Against Two-Dimensionalism Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1922: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus New York: Routledge.

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48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Shawn Burtoft was born on July 9, 1973 in Sa rasota, Florida. He relocated to Marion, Virginia, at age 12 and graduate d from Marion Senior High School in 1991. He earned his B.S. in philosophy from East Tenne ssee State University in 2006. After earning his B.S. degree, Shawn entere d the graduate program in philosophy at the University of Florida, focusing primarily on i ssues in philosophy of language and metaphysics. He is currently employed by the History of Science Society. Upon completion of his M.A., Shawn will enter the Ph.D. program at UF. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he will seek to establish an academic career in philosophy.


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NECESSITY AND APRIORICITY


By

SHAWN BURTOFT













A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007

































2007 Shawn Burtoft









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A B S T R A C T ........................................... ............................. 4

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... ............................................................ .5

Prelim inaries ........... .......................................... ......................... .......... .......
N ecessity/Contingency ...................... ...... ...................... .. ...................
A priori/A posteriori ............. ....... .................................. .......... ........ .... ......... .. 6
The Traditional View ...................................................8
The Challenge to the Traditional V iew ............................................................. ...............10
T hesis and Strategy ...................................... ............................ .... ................ 11

2 ID EN TITY STA TE M E N T S........................................................................ .....................14

N atu ral K in d s ...............................................................................................17

3 'ACTUAL', 'ACTUALLY', 'DTHAT' .......................................................... ...............19

T h e A ctu a l F .................................................................................19
K plan' s 'Dthat' Operator ......... .. ................ .................. ..... ...... .. .. ............ 21
A ll A actual F s are F s ...........................................................................23
A ctu ally P ........................................................ ...................................2 4

4 STATEMENTS ABOUT ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES.............................. ...............27

5 R E F E R E N C E F IX IN G ..................................................................................................30

6 THE ROLE OF THE LINGUISTIC VEHICLE................................. ...................... 34

Sentences vs. Propositions ................................................... .............. .. ...... 37
Frege's Puzzle ................................................... 38

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S .............................................................................. ...........................46

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .............................................................................. .....................48









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

NECESSITY AND APRIORICITY

By

Shawn Burtoft

May 2007

Chair: Kirk Ludwig
Major: Philosophy

My aim in this thesis is to show 1) that the standard examples of aposteriori necessity and

a priori contingency are not counterexamples to the traditional view of the relation between

necessity and aprioricity, and 2) that such examples rest on a common confusion, viz., failing to

recognize the role the linguistic vehicle plays in the suggested epistemic status of such examples.

I begin by pointing out a puzzle that arises in all such cases: for each alleged counterexample, C,

the considerations which are taken to show that C is necessary/contingent entail that there are

two sentences which express the same proposition though when considered, as it were, under the

aspect of one sentence is said to be apriori and under the aspect of the other is said to be a

posteriori. This results in three inconsistent claims of this form: it is apriori that; it is not a

priori that q; that = that q. If all three claims are true, it follows that there is a proposition

which is apriori and not apriori. Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the three claims must be

rejected. I will argue that, in each case, rejecting either of two of the three claims rules out the

example as a counterexample to the traditional view, while rejecting the third is untenable. If this

is right, then, in each case, we can show that we do not after all have a counterexample to the

traditional view.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Preliminaries

In this thesis, I will be considering a range of alleged examples of aposteriori necessity

and apriori contingency. For my purposes, it will not be necessary to give analyses of necessity

and priority, but it will be useful to fix some ideas at the outset. The following remarks and

schemas are meant to explicate some intuitive notions and equivalences that are the background

of the subsequent discussion.

Necessity/Contingency

For reasons that will emerge later in the discussion, I will distinguish between attributing

modal and epistemic properties to sentences and propositions. Propositions will be thought of as

they traditionally have been, as reified sentence meanings, insofar as they contribute to

determining under what conditions a sentence is true or false. To say that two sentences sl and s2,

in some language L, express the same proposition is to say that sl and s2 are synonymous in L.

When si and s2 are sentences in distinct languages, L1 and L2, we can say that they express the

same proposition iff s in L1 and s2 in L2 are intertranslatable. For simplicity, I ignore context

sensitive sentences, such as those involving indexical terms and those whose truth-values vary

from use to use because of tense. One example we will look at contains an indexical term but it

should be clear from the discussion that nothing hinges ignoring its context sensitivity.

Everything I need to say could be reformulated to adjust for context sensitivity.

I will be assuming the equivalences expressed in the following schemas, where 'p' is a

schematic letter for propositions and 's' is used for names or descriptions of sentences.

* It is necessary thatp iff it is not possible that it is not the case that.
* It is contingent thatp iff it is the case thatp and it is not necessary that p.
* s is necessarily true (in L) iff it is not possible that s is not true (in L).
* s is contingently true (in L) iffs is true (in L) and s is not necessarily true (in L).









Occasionally, I will employ the terminology of possible worlds. While I do not take

possible worlds talk to be basic, it is a useful heuristic when evaluating some of the examples we

will consider. In those instances, the relation between necessity, possibility, and contingency will

be understood as follows:

* It is necessary thatp iff it is the case thatp in every possible world.
* It is possible thatp iff it is the case thatp in some possible world.
* It is contingent thatp iff it is the case thatp in the actual world and it is not the case that
in every possible world.
* s is necessarily true (in L) iffs is true (in L) in every possible world.
* s is possibly true (in L) iffs is true (in L) in some possible world.
* s is contingently true (in L) iffs is true (in L) in the actual world and s is not true (in L) in
every possible world.

A priori/Aposteriori

To say that something is apriori is to say that it is knowable independently of experience,

and, intuitively, this is just to say that there is a way of knowing it, or coming to know it, which

does not require empirical investigation. The sorts of things which are generally said to fall under

this category include logical and mathematical truths, e.g., propositions expressed by sentences

of the form 'P or -P' and '((P -* Q) & P) -* Q)', 'a is a', or the propositions expressed by '2 +

2 = 4', '2 > 1', etc., or axioms of formal systems like geometry, e.g., that a line contains at least

two points, and certain propositions which appear to be true, in some sense, by definition, such

as the proposition that all bachelors are unmarried males. These are typical examples of

propositions which are said to be apriori. By contrast, that the Earth is the third planet from the

Sun, that lions are carnivores, that the capital of France is Paris, and that Thomas Jefferson wrote

the Declaration of Independence are taken to be truths which are not knowable independently of

experience, and, hence, examples of aposteriori truths.

It should be noted that being knowable apriori appears to be relative, in some cases, at

least, to particular subjects, that is, it seems that in some cases a proposition may be knowable









(not just known) a priori by some but not by others. Consider the proposition expressed by

'Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain'. This is one of the standard examples of an aposteriori

necessity. But what was the epistemic status of this for Mark Twain? It seems that he, at least,

knew it to be true apriori, i.e., without empirical investigation. But it seems that it is not the case

that it is even knowable a priori for everyone. This seems to be the way Kripke (1980, p. 56) is

thinking about the apriori in his discussion of his standard meter bar example in Naming and

Necessity, as in the following passage.

What then is the epistemological status of the statement 'Stick S is one meter long at tO',
for someone who has fixed the metric system by reference to stick S? It would seem he
knows it a priori. For if he used stick S to fix the reference of the term 'one meter', then as
a result of this kind of 'definition'... he knows automatically, without further investigation,
that S is one meter long.... So in this sense, there are contingent a priori truths.

It is clear in this case that Kripke is assuming that this is not so for someone who has not fixed

the metric system by reference to stick S. That is, for many others at least, that S is one meter

long, Kripke is assuming, will neither be known a priori nor be knowable a priori. This suggests

that we shouldn't think that there are a priori truths simpliciter-i.e., that an a priori truth is

simply one which is knowable apriori by someone. Instead, it would be better to think of the

properties being apriori and being aposteriori as fundamentally relational properties, i.e., as

relating propositions/sentences to particular subjects. We can represent this as follows, where we

let 'k' stand for some knower.

* It is a priori thatp for k iff that p is knowable for k independently of experience.
* It is a posteriori thatp for k iff it is knowable thatp for k and it is not a priori for k that p.
* s is true a priori (in L) for k iff it is knowable that s is true (in L) for k independently of
experience.
* s is true aposteriori (in L) for k iff it is knowable that s is true (in L) for k and s is not true
a priori (in L) for k.









The Traditional View


The distinction between the apriori and aposteriori was first drawn clearly in the Modern

period. Hume and Leibniz identified apriori propositions with necessary and analytic

propositions. Leibniz (1714, 33) called such propositions "truths of reasoning" and contrasted

them with "truths of fact."

Truths of fact are contingent and their opposite is possible. When a truth is necessary, its
reason can be found by analysis, resolving it into more simple ideas and truths, until we
come to those which are primary. Primary principles cannot be proved, and indeed have no
need of proof; and these are identical propositions whose opposite involves an express
contradiction.

Hume (1698, p. 40) made a similar distinction between what he called "relations of ideas" and

"matters of fact."

All the objects of human reason or inquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit,
"Relations of Ideas," and "Matters of Fact." Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry,
Algebra, and Arithmetic, and, in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or
demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the square of two
sides is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times
five is equal to half of thirty expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of
this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is
anywhere existent in the universe.... Matters of fact, which are the second objects of
human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner, nor is our evidence of their truth,
however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is
still possible, because it can never imply a contradiction....

Kant departed from this picture in one important respect, in the Critique of Pure Reason,

suggesting that there are some apriori truths which are not analytic, i.e., not "truths of

reasoning" or about "relations among ideas." For instance, he held that certain truths of

arithmetic, while apriori, were .ynl/heii. One example Kant gives is the proposition that 7 + 5 is

12. Kant took analytic propositions to be those in which the concept of the predicate is contained

in the concept of the subject.1 He maintained that the proposition that 7 + 5 is 12 did not meet


1 While, strictly speaking, propositions don't contain subjects and predicates, the use of these grammatical
categories helps represent the intuitive structure of the proposition expressed by subject-predicate sentences.









this criterion because the concept of 12 is not obtained by merely considering the union of 5 and

7. Yet it is clearly apriori since we can know the proposition without appeal to experience. In

this sense, he believed that there were synthetic apriori truths.

However, while Kant (Ibid., p. 38) differed from Hume and Leibniz in this respect, he

followed them in identifying the apriori with the necessary:

Now, in the first place, if we have a proposition which contains the idea of necessity in its
very conception, it is a judgment apriori; if, moreover, it is not derived from any other
proposition, unless from one equally involving the idea of necessity, it is absolutely a
priori. Secondly, an empirical judgment never exhibits strict and absolute, but only
assumed and comparative universality (by induction); therefore, the most we can say is-
so far as we have hitherto observed-there is no exception to this or that rule. If, on the
other hand, a judgment carries with it strict and absolute universality, that is, admits of no
possible exception, it is not derived from experience, but is valid absolutely apriori.

This view was also widely held among the early analytic philosophers who, despite Kant's

challenge, largely also identified the apriori with the analytic and the necessary. Ayer (1952, p.

31), for instance, is very explicit about this in Language Truth and Logic, a classic statement of

the widely influential views of the Logical Positivists:

Like Hume, I divide all genuine propositions into two classes: those which, in his
terminology, concern "relations of ideas," and those which concern "matters of fact." The
former class comprises the a priori propositions of logic and pure mathematics, and these I
allow to be necessary only because they are analytic. That is, I maintain that the reason
these propositions cannot be confuted in experience is that they do not make any assertion
about the empirical world, but simply record our determination to use symbols in a certain
fashion.

Wittgenstein (1922, 5.525) took a very similar line in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,

which served as an inspiration for the Vienna Circle and the Logical Positivists. He held that a

priori/necessary truths were tautologies and contrasted these with what he called "propositions

with sense."

The certainty, possibility, or impossibility of a situation is not expressed by a proposition,
but by an expression's being a tautology, a proposition with sense, or a contradiction.









Propositions with sense give us information about the world and are contingent. Tautologies (and

contradictions), by contrast, are only said to be meaningful in the sense that they provide us with

information about the use of symbols in our system.

And, while Russell (1931, p. 103) wasn't as explicit on this point, it appears that he had

similar considerations in mind when he argued, in The Problems ofPhilosophy, that "all apriori

knowledge deals exclusively with the relations of universals," and took the truths of logic to be

primary examples.

One feature common to all these suggestions, including Kant's, is the view that all apriori

propositions are necessary and, conversely, that all aposteriori propositions are contingent.2 I

will refer to this as the traditional view. It can be expressed in the claim that all instances of (T)

are true.

(T) It is necessary that *- it is apriori that.

Up until the last half of the Twentieth Century, this was the accepted view regarding the

relation between the apriori and the necessary.

The Challenge to the Traditional View

The traditional view came under attack starting with the work of Saul Kripke. In his book

Naming and Necessity, which began as a series of lectures at Princeton in 1970, Kripke presents

a number of apparent examples of aposteriori truths which are necessary and a priori truths

which are contingent. Since then the number and range of such examples has grown and it is now

generally held that the relation between necessity and priority is not nearly as close as the

traditional picture suggests. For example, Scott Soames (2003, p. 372) writes:




2 Kripke talks as though 'a priori' and 'necessary' were taken to be synonymous, but I haven't come across any
evidence to suggest that the relation was taken to be anything stronger than necessarily extensional equivalence.









From our perspective today, we can see that not all necessary truths are a priori, not all a priori

truths are necessary, and not all members of either class are transparently so.

In a similar vein, Paul Boghossian and Christopher Peacocke (2000, p. 31), write:

Being a priori is to be sharply distinguished from being necessary.... Examples, and
reflection on the nature of the properties, both show that there are a priori propositions
which are not necessary. Kripke and Kaplan supplied conclusive examples.... Conversely,
in the presence of examples of the necessary a posteriori, it is clear that a proposition's
being necessary does not ensure that it is a priori.

The following is a list of some of the putative examples of the necessary aposteriori and

contingent apriori.

Necessary APosteriori

* Hesperus is Phosphorus
* Water is H20
* Actually, Kripke is a philosopher
* If Earth exists, then Earth is a physical object

Contingent APriori

* All actual philosophers are philosophers
* If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence wrote something.
* If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then dthat(the person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence)3 wrote something.
* S is one meter long at t (for someone who fixes 'one meter' by reference to the length of S
at t)
I will take up each of these examples and why they are thought to have the modal and epistemic

status suggested in the body of this thesis.

Thesis and Strategy

My aim is to show, not only that the standard examples of a posteriori necessity and a

priori contingency aren't counterexamples to the traditional view, but also that they rest on a



3 The expression 'dthat(the F)' is a term introduced by David Kaplan (1978) which by stipulation refers directly, in
the sense of contributing only an object to the proposition expressed by a sentence containing it, namely, the object,
if any, which is the denotation of 'the F'. See Chapter 3 for discussion.









common confusion, that of failing to recognize the role the linguistic vehicle plays in the

suggested epistemic status of such examples. The strategy is as follows. I begin by pointing out a

puzzle that arises in all such cases: for each alleged counterexample, C, the considerations which

are taken to show that C is necessary/contingent entail that there are two sentences which express

the same proposition though when considered, as it were, under the aspect of one sentence is said

to be apriori and under the aspect of the other is said to be aposteriori. This results in three

inconsistent claims of the following form.

* It is a priori that.
* It is not a priori that q.
* Thatp = that q.

Claims (i)-(iii) imply that there is a proposition which is apriori and not apriori. Thus, on pain

of contradiction, one of the three claims must be rejected. I will argue that, in each case, rejecting

either of two of the three claims rules out the example as a counterexample to the traditional

view, while rejecting the third is untenable. If this is right, then, in each case, we can show that

we do not after all have a counterexample to the traditional view.

I will begin, in Chapter 2, by considering alleged cases of a posteriori identities, those

involving proper names as well as so-called theoretical identities involving natural kind terms. In

Chapter 3, I'll look at examples that arise from the use of 'actual' and 'actually' as well as

related cases involving Kaplan's thata' operator. Chapter 4 deals with examples that appeal to

essential properties. In Chapter 5, I will consider the sorts of cases that arise from stipulative

reference fixing, such as Kripke's example of the standard meter bar in Paris. In the final

chapter, Chapter 6, I'll lay out the argument sketched above in greater detail and then conclude

by noting some striking linguistic similarities that all such examples seem to share which

suggests an explanation to the initial puzzle: the modal status of each example is based on the









proposition expressed whereas the epistemic status is based, at least in part, on knowledge about

the terms used to express it.









CHAPTER 2
IDENTITY STATEMENTS

Kripke (1980) argued famously that certain identity statements of the form 'a is b', where 'a'

and 'b' are proper names, such as (1) and (2), if true, are necessarily true and true aposteriori.

(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus
(2) Butch Cassidy is Robert LeRoy Parker

They are said to be necessarily true because it is assumed that, for any x and y, ifx = y then

necessarily x = y. Call this the identity thesis (I).

(I) (x)(y)(x = y Ox = y)

According to Kripke, (I) is a thesis about objects:

It was clear from (x)O(x = x) and Leibniz's law that identity is an internal relation: (x)(y)(x
= y -* x = y). (What pairs (x, y) could be counterexamples? Not pairs of distinct objects,
for then the antecedent is false; nor any pair of an object and itself, for then the consequent
is true.)4

Cases like (1) and (2) are said to be examples of the latter, for the pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus) is

a pair of an object and itself, and the same goes for the pair (Robert LeRoy Parker, Butch

Cassidy).5 It follows, then, in conjunction with (I), that (1) and (2) express necessary truths.

On the other hand, such examples are said to be aposteriori because knowledge of them is

not a matter of reasoning alone, but requires some empirical work. As Frege pointed out, it was

considered a great astronomical discovery that Hesperus is Phosphorus. And it apparently came

as a surprise to many that Butch Cassidy was Robert LeRoy Parker because, according to wanted

posters, he was someone else.6




4 Ibid. (p. 3).
5 am assuming here that proper names refer directly; later in this chapter, I will consider the implications of a
Fregean view of proper names in such contexts.
6 According to wanted posters, Butch Cassidy was George Parker.









However, it is difficult to see why such examples are said to be aposteriori given the

argument that they are necessary. For example, if, as suggested, (1) is true because of (I) then it

is true because the pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus) is the same pair as (Hesperus, Hesperus)-

likewise, if (2) is true because of (I), it is true because the pair (Robert LeRoy Parker, Butch

Cassidy) is the same pair as (Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy). If this is right, then presumably (1)

and (lb) express the same proposition.

(lb) Hesperus is Hesperus

So there is a puzzle here: the reasons for thinking that (1) is necessarily true require that it

express the same proposition as (lb) yet the former is said to express an aposteriori truth

whereas the latter is generally thought to expresses an apriori truth. How do we account for

this? It seems to me that there are two possibilities, but neither accommodates the view that

examples like (1) and (2) are cases of aposteriori necessity.

One explanation is the Fregean line that the difference between sentences of the form 'a

is b' and 'a is a' is due to some difference in cognitive content. For example, 'Hesperus is

Phosphorus' may be held to express an aposteriori truth because there are distinct senses7

associated with 'Hesperus' and 'Phosphorus', which go into the propositions expressed by the

sentence, and it takes some empirical investigation to see that they pick out the same object. But,

while this view captures the intuition that the proposition expressed is aposteriori, it seems in

conflict with the reasons for supposing it is necessary. For example, if an accurate account of

what (1) expresses is something like (Ic),

(Ic) The first star visible in the evening is the first star visible in the morning




7 Here 'sense' can be taken as a general placeholder for any of the usual candidates: definite descriptions, modes of
presentation, primary intensions, etc.









then (1) is contingent (if true) because the descriptions 'the first star visible in the evening' and

'the first star visible in the morning' are not necessarily coextensive.

A rigidified description account would avoid this difficulty. This sort of account would

invoke modifiers that in effect turn definite descriptions into expressions which designate the

same object in every possible world. A common way of doing this is by prefixing the nominal of

a definite description with the term 'actual'. For example, the description 'the actual first star

visible in the evening' is said to pick out the same object in every possible world. If this is right,

then (Id) expresses a necessary truth.

(Id) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual first star visible in the morning.

However, there are problems with this response on behalf of someone who holds that (1)

expresses an aposteriori and necessary proposition. For one thing, those who accept that such

examples are necessary and aposteriori tend to reject description theories of proper names. This

was part of the motivation, in fact, for seeing sentences such as (1) as expressing necessary truths

in the first place. So it is unlikely they would be willing to endorse such an account. For another

thing, in Naming and Necessity, Kripke made a convincing case against description theories in

general. Perhaps the most obvious problem is that proper names don't appear to be semantically

equivalent to definite descriptions. For instance, it's not required for competency in the name

'Aristotle' that one associate any definite description, rigid or not, with Aristotle (e.g., suppose

it's suggested that 'Aristotle' is equivalent to the description 'the (actual) man who taught

Alexander the Great'; one could fail to know that Aristotle taught Alexander the Great, yet be

able to use and understand sentences containing the name 'Aristotle'). In the next chapter, I will

argue that a further problem for the rigidified description account is that the use of 'actual', and

other such rigidifiers, give rise to the very same puzzle that arises in the case of proper names.









The other option is to say that what is a posteriori is that the terms flanking the identity

sign corefer-thus, the idea is that (1) is a posteriori because it is about, in part, the terms

included in it. One problem with this line is that it forces us to give up the intuitive view that

identity claims are about the referents of the contained terms. And, again, examples like (1) and

(2) are supposed to be necessary because of (I), which is a metaphysical thesis, not a linguistic

thesis. As Kripke ibidd. pp. 107-108) points out, "If you say for every x and y, ifx = y then

necessarily x = y, or something like that-no names occur in that statement at all, nor is anything

said about names." So, while the metalinguistic suggestion accounts for the intuition that such

examples are a posteriori, it is at odds with the reasons given for thinking that they're necessary.

If these statements were even in part about the names, why should they be necessary? It is surely

a contingent matter whether two names corefer.8

Natural Kinds

Similar considerations raise difficulties for the view that theoretical identity claims

involving natural kind terms are necessary aposteriori. If we assume, with Kripke and Putnam,

that the quantifiers in the identity thesis range over natural kinds as well as particulars, then the

suggestion that theoretical identity claims like (3) and (4) are examples of aposteriori necessity

results in the same puzzle.9

(3) Water is H20
(4) Gold is AU





8 This worry is insurmountable when we turn to true identity statements made using demonstratives such as 'this is
that'. Clearly those very uses of the demonstratives might have picked out things different from the ones they picked
out. So even if some story could be told about proper names, it would not be general enough to handle the problem.

9 I will not have anything to say in this thesis about the status of these examples if natural kinds terms are taken not
to be analogous to names. Thus, my conclusion here is conditional on the assumption that natural kinds terms
function like names of properties.









If (3) and (4) are said to be necessarily true because they are instances of (I) then they are

necessarily true in virtue of expressing the same propositions as (3b) and (4b), respectively.

(3b) Water is water
(4b) Gold is gold

Yet (3) and (4) are alleged to express aposteriori truths whereas (3b) and (4b) are true apriori.

The same solutions we considered in the case of proper names are available here, with the

same consequences. Either what is motivating the view that theoretical identities are aposteriori

is the thought that there are distinct senses associated with the natural kind terms flanking the

identity sign, or it is the thought that it is not apriori that such terms pick out the same natural

kinds. But, by parity of reasoning, neither solution appears to be compatible with the claims that

such examples are necessarily true.

In this chapter, I have been concerned with pointing out that there is a genuine puzzle that

arises in the cases of identity statements which are said to be a posteriori and necessary. The

puzzle is that given the reasons for thinking that such examples are counterexamples to the

traditional view leads to the view that there are two sentences which express the same

proposition though looking at it the one way and the other lead to different judgments as to

whether the proposition is a priori or a posteriori. In the following chapters, I aim to show that all

the alleged putative counterexamples give rise to the same puzzle.









CHAPTER 3
'ACTUAL', 'ACTUALLY', THATA'

The Actual F

It is worth noting at the outset of this chapter that some philosophers hold that 'actual' and

'actually' do not make any difference to the modal status of propositions expressed by sentences

containing them. 10 If this view is correct, then none of the examples we will consider in this

chapter present problems for the traditional view. The purpose of this chapter is to show that,

even if 'actual' and 'actually' do affect the modal status of sentences/propositions they are

involved with in the way often assumed, the standard examples involving them can be shown to

result in the same puzzle that arises in regards to proper names and natural kind terms.

In certain contexts, the use of 'actual' and 'actually' is said to result in cases of aposteriori

necessity and apriori contingency. Consider an example offered by Soames (2005, p. 31):

(5) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence wrote something.

Contrast (5) with (5*)

(5*) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence wrote something.

This is (presumably) necessarily true, whereas (5) is said to be contingent. The reason is that the

description in (5*), viz., 'the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence' is non-rigid,

i.e., it does not designate the same individual in every possible world, whereas the description in

(5), viz., 'the actual person who wrote the Declaration of Independence' is said to be a rigid

designator, i.e., to pick out the same individual in every possible world. If this is right then

evidently the term 'actual' is playing a part in individuating the proposition expressed by (5). If

the proposition expressed by the sentence is what is evaluated at different possible worlds (which


10 Michael Jubien, for example.









is the assumption we are operating under, as our question is whether there are propositions which

are apriori but contingent), then what 'actual' appears to do in such contexts is modify the

predicates within its scope in such a way as to have us only consider their (actual) extensions and

disregard their intensions.11 In this sense, 'the actual F' functions in a way similar to Kaplan's

(1978) thata' operator: expressions of the form [dthat(the F)]12 work like directly referring

terms in that nothing more is contributed to the meaning of the sentence than the unique object

denoted by [(the F)], even though there is a term appearing in it which has an intension, and our

grasping its intension is relevant to our understanding what it picks out. In 'the actual F', 'actual

F' functions to introduce just the actual extension of 'F' into the propositions, and then the

denotation of 'the actual F' is just the unique thing, if any, in the extension of 'F'. The

proposition expressed is individuated with respect not to the intension of 'F' but with respect to

its extension.

Now, the consequent of (5) is said to be contingently true because the actual denotation of

'the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence' might not have written anything.

However, if this is what the consequent of (5) says, then prefixing the nominal of any

contingently true description of Thomas Jefferson with 'actual' and plugging it in the consequent

should get the same result. Consider (6).

(6) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual third president of the US
wrote something.

If 'actual' works as suggested, i.e., by narrowing our focus to just the actual extension of the

predicate in its scope, then (5) and (6) express the same proposition; the consequent in each case



1For a more detailed account of the semantics of 'actual' and 'actually' in modal contexts see Kirk Ludwig's "A
Conservative Modal Semantics with Applications to de re Necessities and Arguments for Coincident Entities."

12 I will be using the left '[' and right ']' square brackets for Quinean corer quotes.









is about the same person, as the same extension is introduced into the proposition. But while (5)

and (6) are contingent for the same reason, i.e., because it is not necessary that the denotation of

those descriptions wrote something, (6) it seems isn't true apriori.

Once again, we see the same kind of puzzle. Given the suggested counterexample, we are

led to the view that there are two sentences which express the same proposition though seen in

relation to one it appears a priori and in relation to the other a posteriori.

Kaplan's 'Dthat' Operator

As I mentioned, when 'actual' is added to the nominal of a definite description, it functions

in a way similar to Kaplan's thata' operator. Again, expressions of the form [dthat(the F)] work

like directly referring terms in that nothing more is contributed by it to the proposition expressed

by a sentence containing it than the unique object denoted by [(the F)]. We can express its

function in a reference clause in which the description is deployed in the antecedent of a

conditional to constrain the value of a variable, and the referent is given as the value of a

variable:

For any x, for any nominal N, the denotation of [(the N)] is x -* the referent of [dthat(the
N)] is x.

Designators of the form [the actual F] and [dthat(the F)] are said to be rigid designators-like

(directly referring) proper names, they pick out the same object in all possible worlds in which

they have referents.

It should be evident at this point why rigidified descriptions do not avoid the initial

problem involving proper names and natural kind terms. Recall that in 2 the question was

raised as to how distinct identity sentences could be said to express the same proposition yet

differ with regard to being apriori/a posteriori. For example, how can it be that (1), repeated

here,









(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus

is true aposteriori and (lb), repeated here,

(lb) Hesperus is Hesperus

is true apriori if the sentences 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' and 'Hesperus is Hesperus' express the

same proposition? One explanation was that (1) is true aposteriori because there are distinct

senses/descriptions/intensions associated with the names 'Hesperus' and 'Phosphorus' and it

takes some empirical work to see that they track the same object. The problem with this account

was that it seemed to render (1) contingent. For if a correct account of what (1) expresses comes

to something like

The first star visible in the evening is the first star visible in the morning then it would not

be necessarily true, because the descriptions flanking the identity sign (even fixing their

meanings) do not necessarily denote the same objects. But now consider (8) and (9) as possible

accounts of the proposition expressed by (1).

(8) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual first star visible in the morning.
(9) Dthat(the first star visible in the evening) is dthat(the first star visible in the morning).

Would such rigidified descriptive accounts of (1) accommodate the view that it is necessary a

posteriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus? No, because the same puzzle arises with respect to these

examples. Take (8). If (8) is necessarily true, it is so because it says that a particular object bears

the identity relation to itself. And this is a fact independent of how the object is picked out. Thus,

if (8) is necessarily true, it expresses the same proposition as (10).

(10) The actual first star visible in the evening is the actual first star visible in the evening.

But (10) is presumably apriori, not aposteriori, so this line leads to the same problem we began

with: two sentences express the same proposition though in relation to one of them we want to

say the proposition is aposteriori and in relation to the other that it is a priori.









Likewise, if (9) is necessarily true, then it expresses the same proposition as (11).

(11) Dthat(the first star visible in the evening) is dthat(the first star visible in the
evening).

But whereas (9) would have to be true aposteriori to account for the initial puzzle, there doesn't

seem to be any reason to suppose that (11) is true aposteriori.

Thus, appealing to rigidified descriptive accounts of proper names to address the initial

problem doesn't work. Evidently, then, the correct explanation of why examples like (1)-(4) are

said to be a posteriori must appeal to the alternative suggestion that knowledge about the

linguistic vehicle is playing a role in such cases. We will examine this suggestion in greater

detail in the final chapter.

All Actual Fs are Fs

There are also examples where the use of 'actual' is said to result in contingent apriori

truths. Compare (12) and (13).

(12) All philosophers are philosophers.
(13) All actual philosophers are philosophers.

(12) appears to be necessarily true and apriori; however, (13) is supposedly contingent and true

apriori. The idea here is usually brought out by appeal to possible worlds. For example, (13) is

analyzed as (13b), where '@' represents the actual world:

(13b) (x)(x is a philosopher in @ -* x is a philosopher)

This is contingent because there are possible worlds where it is false. Thus, 'actual' appears to do

the same work here as above: it narrows our focus to the actual extension of the predicate in its

scope. For instance, (13) says of a some particular individuals-those people who happen to be

philosophers-that they are philosophers, and this is a contingent truth since it is not necessarily

the case that all (or some) of those individuals are philosophers. But notice that the same

problem arises here: if this is what (13) says then it is difficult to see why it is thought to be true









apriori, because it is not an apriori truth that those individuals who happen to be philosophers

are philosophers. Take a similar case.

(14) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents.

If 'actual' works as suggested, then here 'actual' is modifying 'Brooklyn residents' in such a way

as to have us only consider its actual extension, i.e., those individuals who happen to be residents

of Brooklyn, and it isn't necessarily the case that those individuals are Brooklyn residents.

However, it isn't apriori, either, that those people are Brooklyn residents. Consider (15).

(15) All actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents.

If (14) is said to be contingent because it is about the actual extension of 'Brooklyn residents'

then (14) and (15) express the same proposition (the actual residents of Brooklyn and the actual

residents of Kings County are the same). But (15) it seems isn't true apriori (many Brooklyn

residents don't know (15) is true). So it appears we have another case where two sentences

express the same proposition, though considered in relation to one we want to treat it as apriori,

while considered in relation to the other we want to take it to be aposteriori.

Actually, P

Another formula for generating putative examples of necessary aposteriori truths is

'Actually, P', where 'P' is replaced by a sentence expressing a contingent truth, for example,

(16).

(16) Actually, Ted Kennedy is a Massachusetts senator.

In such cases, 'actually' is said to function as a modal operator, and, since all (true) modal

sentences are necessarily true, instances like (16) are said to express necessary truths. As with

the previous example, the idea here is usually expressed in terms of possible worlds; (16), for

example, is analyzed as (16b),

(16b) Ted Kennedy is a Massachusetts senator in @.









which, if true, is true in every possible world. Evidently, on this suggestion, 'actually' does the

same work as 'actual': in effect, it narrows our focus to just the actual extension of the predicate,

disregarding its intension. For instance, suppose we introduce the term 'menator' as follows with

the understanding that its meaning is exhausted by its extension.

(x)(x is a menator iffx is John Kerry or x is Ted Kennedy)

Using this term gets us the same result-(17) expresses the same proposition as (16).


(17) Ted Kennedy is a menator.


However, (17) is presumably true apriori for us since it is true by stipulation that 'menator' is

true of Ted Kennedy or John Kerry; anyone familiar with the procedure for introducing the term

'menator' knows that (17) is true apriori.

Another way of achieving this effect, of a sentence that expresses the same proposition as

(16) but in relation to which we want to say, in contrast to (16), that what is expressed is

knowable apriori, is by introducing a special form of predicate which makes the extension of

the predicate explicit and is understood to contribute only the extension that it makes explicit.

We introduce the predicate form, [ext(al, a2, a3, ...,)], which functions as follows, letting 'ai',

'I2', 'a3', ... range over proper names.

For any ai, (2, s3, ..., and any xi, x2, x3, ..., if Ref(al) = xi, Ref(a2) = X2, Ref(a3) = x3, ...
then [ext(al, a2, 3, ...,)] is true ofx <- x = xl or x = x2 or x = x3 or....

Here we take this to be giving extensionally the satisfaction conditions for the predicate form.

Now, given the way [ext(al, a2, a3, ...,)] works, (18) expresses the same proposition as (16).

(18) Ted Kennedy is an ext(Ted Kennedy, John Kerry).

This is perhaps a better example for our purposes than (17) because it makes explicit in a way

available to anyone who understands the sentence the information about (17) that is available

only to the ones privy to the introduction of the term. We can as it were read off from (18) that









the proposition it expresses is true: one who understands how [ext(al, a2, a3, ...,)] works can

look at (18) and know it to be true apriori, even without knowing the referent of 'Ted Kennedy'.

So, again, we have a systematic way of going from a class of sentences which are supposed to

provide examples of necessary aposteriori sentences to sentences expressing the same

proposition which seem to be knowable apriori.

I have argued that the view that the examples in this chapter have the modal status they are

said to suggests that 'actual' and 'actually' behave in such a way as to restrict our attention to

just the extensions of the predicates in their scope. If this is right, then the reasons given for

supposing that such examples are necessary/contingent leads to the same puzzle as with identity

statements-namely, that there are two sentences which express the same proposition yet which

in relation to one seems apriori and in relation to the other aposteriori.









CHAPTER 4
STATEMENTS ABOUT ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES

Consider sentences of the form 'if a exists then Fa', where 'F' is thought to express an

essential property of a, and a property that cannot be known apriori to be instantiated by a, for

example:

(19) If Earth exists then Earth is a physical object.

This appears to be necessarily true and true aposteriori. The view that it is necessarily true rests

on the claim that

For any x, if x is a physical object, then necessarily if x exists, x is a physical object.and

the fact that Earth is physical object. It appears to be aposteriori because we cannot know a

priori that Earth is a physical object, because this requires knowing among other things that it

exists, and we cannot know that it exists apriori.

It seems to me there is an intuitively compelling way of seeing that something is going on

here which is very similar to what is going on in the alleged cases of aposteriori identity. Let's

assume, as suggested, that (19) is not true apriori. Now, imagine that elsewhere in the galaxy

there is a planet (call it Planet-X) much like Earth. For the sake of simplicity, assume that people

there speak a language similar to English in that it shares the same grammar and most of the

same terms, and all the non-referring terms have the same intensions.13 However, due to certain

physical limitations, the astronomers on Planet-X cannot observe Earth with their instruments

(perhaps other celestial objects are always aligned in such a way as to block direct observation).

Nonetheless, their observations of the behavior of other celestial bodies in our solar system lead

them to posit a planet with roughly Earth's physical properties and orbit. Further, suppose that




13 It can be thought of analogous to Twin English in Putnam's Twin Earth thought experiments.









they give the planet a name, say, 'Shmearth'. Intuitively, in this scenario (19) and (20) express

the same proposition.

(20) If Shmearth exists then Shmearth is a physical object.14

In this case, the referent of 'Earth' is the referent of 'Shmearth'-we can imagine the denizens of

Planet-X eventually developing the technology to observe Earth directly (or even travel to Earth)

at which time they would conclude that Shmearth exists. And this in conjunction with certain

linguistic knowledge, specifically, the knowledge that Earthlings use the name 'Earth' to refer to

what they call 'Shmearth' would put them in a position to see that 'Earth' and 'Shmearth'

corefer. The crucial point is that, due to the manner in which 'Shmearth' is introduced, the

astronomers on Planet-X know (20) to be true without further investigation; in positing Shmearth

to account for the behavior of other physical objects, they, in effect, stipulate that, if Shmearth

exists, Shmearth is a physical object. For the Planet-X astronomers, (20) is apriori.

Thus, if (19) is aposteriori, as suggested, then, once again, we have a case where two

sentences express the same proposition which in relation to one appears to differ in regards to its

status as apriori in relation to the other.

Another example of this sort involves complex demonstratives. Take (23).

(23) This table is made of wood.

It is often assumed that anything that is made of wood is essentially made of wood. 15 Thus, if the

demonstrative phrase 'this table' in (23) picks out an object which is made of wood, then (23) is


14 Similarly, if, like Le Verrier, another astronomer had hypothesized the existence of a planet to explain the
observed perturbations in Mercury's orbit but called it by another name, say, 'Shmulcan' then (21) and (22) could
have been said to express the same proposition:
(21) If Vulcan exists then Vulcan is a physical object.
(22) If Shmulcan exists then Shmulcan is a physical object.
15 This is questionable. We can imagine, over time, the table going through a process of petrifaction and turning to
stone (thanks to Kirk Ludwig for this example). A better example may be 'this table was originally made of wood'.










necessarily true.16 On the other hand, (23) appears to be aposteriori because it would require

some examination of the table to see that it is made of wood. But consider (24).

(24) This wood table is made of wood.

Assuming that the demonstratives 'this table' in (23) and 'this wood table' in (24) function as

directly referring terms, 17 (23) and (24) express the same proposition but, unlike (23), (24)

appears to be a priori.

Thus, these examples that appeal to essential properties give rise to the same puzzle we

have been noting all along: we can find different sentences which express the same proposition

but our intuitions about the a prioricity of the proposition differ in relation to the different

sentences.


16 There is an existential concern in such cases-e.g., it isn't necessary that the table exists. For the purposes of this
paper, I will assume that this can be avoided by conditionalizing the examples-e.g.: if this table exists then it is
made of wood.

17 Complex demonstratives are often treated as directly referring terms. On this view, the nominal in the complex
demonstrative doesn't contribute to the truth conditions of the sentence in which it occurs. Kaplan (1978), McGinn
(1981), Peacocke (1981), and Davies (1982), e.g., each take this line. In contrast, Richard (1993) and Lepore and
Ludwig (2000) argue that the nominal contributes to the truth conditions of the sentence. On the latter view (23) and
(24) do not express the same proposition. Even if this is right, there could be terms that function in the way Kaplan
et. al. think actual complex demonstratives function, so the point can still be made.









CHAPTER 5
REFERENCE FIXING

In Naming and Necessity, Kripke suggests that (25), where 'S' is a name for the standard

meter bar in Paris, is a contingent a priori truth, at least for the person who fixes the unit of one

meter in relation to S at t.

(25) S is one meter long at time t18

It is said to be contingent because it is not necessarily the case that S is one meter long at t. It is

supposed to be true apriori for the person who fixes the standard because one who fixes 'one

meter' by reference to S knows that whatever length S is a t that length will be one meter long.

(More specifically, the reference fixing definition for 'one meter' is something like: x is one

meter long iffx has the same length that S has at t. And it is apriori that S has the same length at

t that S has at t.)

There is a puzzle about this case, though. For it seems that the person who fixes 'one

meter' in this way, though he is said to know that (25) is true apriori, doesn't know what length

'one meter' picks out apriori, and thus arguably doesn't know what proposition is expressed by

(25). It is part of the story that, for all the fixer knows apriori, the length of S may vary, due to

certain physical conditions at any given time. But suppose the length of S doesn't actually vary

between the time he decides to fix 'one meter' by reference to the length of S at t and the time t;

in other words at any time prior to t, t-E, the length of S is identical to the length of S at t. Now,

even if the fixer knows the length of S at t-E (say he has measured it using imperial units) he is

not in a position to assert 'S at t-E is one meter' even though it is the same length as S at t, which



18 There is an existential worry about this example and others like it. Presumably, S could be destroyed prior to t, in
which case (25) isn't knowable a priori because it isn't a priori that S exists at t. This can be finessed by
conditionalizing the example by prefixing it with 'if S exists at t'. For simplicity, I am presenting the example in its
original form.









he supposedly knows a priori. This suggests that he does not know what length 'one meter'

picks out, for otherwise he could know that S at t-E is one meter because he knows its length.

An analogous case may make this clearer. Suppose the owner of a paint store decides to

develop a new color of paint to sell, which he stipulates will be called 'color X'. He assigns the

task of coming up with the new color to his assistant who will carry out the task by mixing a

number of existing paints in the back room. We can assume that the owner of the store has full

confidence in his assistant's judgment, so that whatever color the assistant decides upon will be

sold as the new color of paint, and, hence, will be the color X. By the end of the day, say, time t,

there will be several pails of the new paint on display in the front of the store. Now, what is the

epistemological status of (26) for the owner of the store in this scenario?

(26) The paint on display in the front of the store at t is color X paint.19

It seems he knows it apriori because it seems that one who fixes the reference of 'color X' in

this way knows, without doing any empirical work, that whatever color the new line of paint on

display is, at t, it is the color X. However, what is puzzling about this case is that the owner

clearly does not know apriori what property is picked out by 'color X'. For instance, suppose,

after the assistant comes up with the new color, he presents the owner with a number of different

colored swatches, among them one that the assistant decided is the new color, color X. Would

the owner be able to pick out-prior to being told by the assistant-which swatch is the color X?

Presumably not. For all he knows any one of the swatches, or none of them, is the color X. So

there is a puzzle here about what exactly the paint store owner is supposed to know apriori-

there is a sense in which he actually doesn't know the proposition expressed by (26) apriori,

because he does not grasp the proposition expressed; the idea is that, in order to grasp the

19 There is an existential worry here as well, but we can conditionalize on the existence of the paint the employee has
mixed and put on display in the front of the store to eliminate this problem, so I will proceed without the elaboration.









proposition, he must grasp the meaning of the predicate 'is color X'-in this case, it doesn't

appear that the shop owner grasps the meaning of 'is color X', and, thus, it doesn't seem correct

to say that he knows what proposition is expressed by (26). A more plausible suggestion, I think,

for what the owner knows in this case is that the color of the paint on display at t-whatever

color it happens to be-will be designated by the term 'color X'. Similarly, in the case of one

who fixes 'one meter' by reference to S, it seems more accurate to say that what he knows is not

(25), but rather that the length S at t-whatever length that happens to be-will be designated by

the term 'one meter'. Thus, it appears that his knowledge is after all metalinguistic, knowledge

that a sentence expresses a proposition that is true, and not knowledge of the proposition the

sentence expresses. The metalinguistic knowledge he has isn't something he requires empirical

knowledge to support because he is the person who introduces the term in a way that guarantees

the truth of the sentence. So all he has to know (existential worries aside) is that he has done so.

If this is right, it clearly shows that these cases are not cases of contingent apriori knowledge of

propositions.

Apart from this, another problem with the 'one meter' case is that it gives rise to the same

puzzle we've been considering. Let us assume, with Kripke, that (25) is apriori for the person

fixing the reference of 'one meter' in this way. It also appears to be contingent. For instance,

suppose that, at t, S is 39.37 inches long (the equivalent of one meter in inches). This would

clearly be a contingent truth since S might have been shorter or longer than 39.37 inches at t.

However, notice that this consideration presupposes that (25), in this scenario, expresses the

same proposition as (27).

(27) S is 39.37 inches long at time t.









But, while (27) is clearly contingent, it cannot be said to be apriori for the person fixing 'one

meter' in this scenario, since for all he knows, prior to measuring S, it may be longer or shorter

than 39.37 inches at time t. So, once again, we have a case where two sentences express the same

proposition though the proposition seems to differ in its aprioricity relative to the different

sentences that express it. We'll return to this case in the following chapter.









CHAPTER 6
THE ROLE OF THE LINGUISTIC VEHICLE

Up until this point, I have been concerned with pointing out a puzzle that arises in regards

to the putative examples of aposteriori necessity and apriori contingency: for each example, the

considerations which are taken to show that the example is necessary/contingent provide the

resources to show that there are two sentences which express the same proposition though the

proposition taken in relation to the different sentences seems to differ intuitively in its a

prioricity. The upshot is that each case leads to three inconsistent claims of the following form.

(i) It is a priori that.
(ii) It is not a priori that q.
(iii) That p = that q.

(i)-(iii) imply that there is a proposition which is apriori and not apriori (even in cases in which

we relativize aprioricity to an individual). Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the three claims

must be rejected. In this chapter, I will argue that, in each case, rejecting either of two of the

three claims rules out the example as a counterexample to the traditional view, while rejecting

the third is untenable.

I initially stated the traditional view in terms of propositions: any instance of (T) is true.

(T) It is necessary that p it is apriori that p.

But we have seen that there are difficulties with the suggestion that the putative examples of a

posteriori necessity and apriori contingency are counterexamples to the traditional view.

Consider claims (a) and (b).

(a) It is a priori that Hesperus is Hesperus.
(b) It is not apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus.

Intuitively, (a) is about a certain proposition: the proposition that Hesperus is Phosphorus, and

(b) is about a certain proposition: the proposition that Hesperus is Hesperus. But this leads to

problems when we consider the question whether (a) and (b) are about the same proposition. If









they are then we have a contradiction: (a) and (b) say that the same proposition is both apriori

and not apriori. Thus, on pain of contradiction, one of the following three claims must be false.

(a) It is a priori that Hesperus is Hesperus.
(b) It is not apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus.
(c) That Hesperus is Hesperus is the same proposition as that Hesperus is Phosphorus.

If we reject (b) or (c) then

(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus

is not, as suggested, a case of a posteriori necessity. As we saw in 1, the reason for holding that

Hesperus is Phosphorus is necessary is that it is the same proposition as that Hesperus is

Hesperus. For suppose it is not. In that case, the pair (Hesperus, Phosphorus) are distinct objects

and hence it is not the case that Hesperus is Phosphorus and hence not necessary that Hesperus is

Phosphorus. In other words, the basis for thinking that (1) is necessary entails that (c) is true.

Thus, unless there is some other reason to think (1) is necessary, there is no basis for rejecting (c)

and it is difficult to see what other grounds one might have for holding that (1) is necessary.

On the other hand, if(b) is rejected then (1) is not aposteriori. So rejecting (b) or (c) is

tantamount to rejecting that (1) is both necessary and aposteriori.

That leaves (a). However, 'Hesperus is Hesperus' is an instance of the logical truth '(x)(x =

x)', which is a typical example of an apriori truth-such examples are generally cited in

contrast to the alleged cases of aposteriori identity. Rejecting (a) does not strike me as a

plausible choice because it threatens to undermine the apriori/aposteriori distinction altogether;

if propositions expressed by sentences of the form 'a = a' are not true apriori it is difficult to see

20
how a case could be made for anything being true apriori.2




20 Or at least, as I noted in 1, note 15, propositions expressed by sentences of the form: if a exists, then a = a.









Similar considerations present a problem for alleged cases of a priori contingency. Take

(d)-(f).

(d) It is apriori that all actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents.
(e) It is not a priori that all actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents.
(f) That all actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents is the same proposition as
the proposition that all actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents.

Consider (14) again.

(14) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents.

If(d) is false then (14) is not true apriori. On the other hand, if(f) is false then (14) is not

contingent for the reasons it is said to be. Again, that all actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn

residents is said to be contingent because it isn't necessary that the actual residents of Brooklyn,

i.e., those individuals who happen to be residents of Brooklyn, are Brooklyn residents (in

possible worlds talk: it isn't the case that the residents of Brooklyn in the actual world are

Brooklyn residents in every possible world). Such instances of the form 'all actual Fs are Fs' are

contrasted with things of the form 'all Fs are Fs' which are said to be necessary (e.g., omitting

'actual' in (14) results in a necessarily true sentence). Evidently, then, what 'actual' does is have

us consider (i.e., inject into the proposition only) the actual extension of the predicate in its

scope, ignoring its intension. We can see why such cases are usually presented in terms of

possible worlds, because this in effect gets the same result; when we are asked to consider the Fs

in the actual world we consider just those objects which happen to be Fs and evaluate claims

containing 'actual Fs' accordingly. But then any predicate which is true of those objects when

prefixed with 'actual' should get this result. For example, the objects picked out by 'actual Kings

County residents' are the very same objects picked out by 'actual Brooklyn residents'. Thus (14)

and (15) say the same thing about the same individuals.

(15) All actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents.









And this is just to say that (14) and (15) express the same proposition. If not, then (f) is false. But

then it is not clear why one would think (14) is contingently true, since it was said to be

contingent for the same reason that (15) is: because it is not necessary that the individuals picked

out by 'actual Brooklyn residents'/'actual Kings County residents' are Brooklyn residents. In

other words, if (14) is contingent for the reasons suggested, then (f) is true. Thus, if it is not the

case that (f) is true, then (14) is not contingent for the reasons given (and, again, it is difficult to

see what other reasons one might have for holding that (14) is contingent).

The other option is to reject (e). But it is not at all clear what would justify this; I do not

know the majority of Kings County residents, so it is difficult to see how I could be said to know

a priori that they are residents of Brooklyn (or residents of Kings County for that matter).

Thus, the most plausible candidates for rejection require giving up the view that (14) is a

counterexample to the traditional view.

Sentences vs. Propositions

The preceding arguments assume that being apriori and being aposteriori are

fundamentally properties of propositions. On this view, sentences (relative to a language) are

true apriori only in a derivative sense-they're true apriori in virtue of expressing propositions

which are apriori. But suppose this is incorrect. Suppose instead that sentences are the rightful

bearers of aprioricity. Does this go any way towards saving the view that there are genuine

examples of aposteriori necessity and apriori contingency? It does insofar as it avoids the

consequence that there are propositions which are both apriori and not apriori. However, it is

not clear how to explicate this suggestion in a way that would avoid the initial puzzle. What

would it mean to say that being apriori is fundamentally a property of sentences? The idea

would have to be spelled out presumably in terms of knowing a sentence to be true (or false) in

virtue of its semantic and syntactic properties, for example:









(S) A sentence s is true apriori (in L) iff s is knowably true (in L) in virtue of the meaning
of its contained terms and their arrangement.

But now the puzzle we began with can be recast in terms of synonymy. Consider claims (g)-(i).

(g) 'Hesperus is Hesperus' is true a priori.
(h) 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' is not true a priori.
(i) 'Hesperus is Hesperus' and 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' are synonymous.

According to (S), a sentence is true apriori iff it is knowably true in virtue of its form and

content. But if (i) is true, which, as shown, is required for the argument for the claim that

'Hesperus is Phosphorus' is necessarily true,21 then 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' and 'Hesperus is

Hesperus' do not differ in content (and they don't differ with respect to their syntactic form). So

while this line avoids explicit contradiction it does not go any way towards accounting for the

initial puzzle as to how two sentences which say the same thing can differ with respect to being a

22
priori/a posteriori.2

Frege's Puzzle

The puzzle that arises in these cases, it seems to me, is just a variant of Frege's. Frege

(1892, p. 199) was concerned with the apparent difference in cognitive significance between

identity sentences which express the same proposition:

"a = a" and "a = b" are sentences of obviously different cognitive significance: "a = a" is
valid a priori and according to Kant is to be called analytic, whereas sentences of the form
"a = b" often contain very valuable extensions of our knowledge and cannot always be
justified in an a priori manner.

This is a puzzle about proper names. What the putative examples ofaposteriori necessity and a

priori contingency seem to show is that, in addition to names, the same puzzle can arise with

other expressions.

21 In conjunction with schema (SP) from the preliminary section.

22 Another problem with this line is that it comes close to accounting for a prioricity in terms of analyticity, but
many of the same alleged counterexamples are said to show that analyticity and a prioricity are to be sharply
distinguished.









Definite descriptions:

* If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence wrote something.

* If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual third president of the US
wrote something.


Indexicals:

* This table is made of wood.
* This wood table is made of wood.
*
And predicates:

* All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents.
* All actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents.

In each case, we have two sentences which apparently differ in cognitive value: one appears to

be informative whereas the other appears to be trivial. (The analog to the distinction between

being informative and trivial, for present purposes, is the a posteriorila priori distinction.)

Frege considered two solutions to the puzzle, a metalinguistic solution, which he rejected,

and his own solution which involved distinguishing between the referent of a term and its sense.

The metalinguistic solution would interpret 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' as something like

"Hesperus' refers to the same object as 'Phosphorus'.' The problem with this line, according to

Frege (1892), is that 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' doesn't appear to be about terms but rather about

objects-as he points out, the truths expressed by such examples are often considered great

discoveries about the world. His own solution was to explain the nontrivial (aposteriori) aspect

of such examples by positing distinct senses associated with the names flanking the identity sign;

for example, while the referent of 'Hesperus' and 'Phosphorus' may be one and the same,

'Hesperus is Phosphorus' may be informative (aposteriori) because it is possible to associate

distinct senses with those names and not be in an epistemic position to see that they track the









same object-for instance, if one thinks of Hesperus as the first visible star in the night sky and

Phosphorus as the first visible star in the morning sky then, on this account, it doesn't follow that

he knows apriori that 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' is true.

As we have seen, neither solution is compatible with the view that the examples considered

in this paper are genuine cases ofaposteriori necessity and apriori contingency. Earlier, we

noted that Frege's solution does not work because it either changes the modal status of the

example, making it compatible with (T), or it leads to the same puzzle in a new form ( 1-2).

The metalinguistic solution, on the other hand, is problematic for the reason Frege pointed out:

on the face of it, such examples do not appear to be about expressions. Moreover, the reasons

given for the suggested modal status of each example rule out the metalinguistic solution:

'Hesperus is Phosphorus', for example, is said to express a necessary truth because it is an

instance of the identity thesis which, as Kripke explicitly points out, is not a linguistic thesis; 'all

actual philosophers are philosophers' is said to be contingent because it is about individuals who

happen to be philosophers; 'S is one meter at t' is said to be contingent because it is about an

object which happens to be one meter long at t, and so on.

However, while the modal status of such examples does not appear to be language

dependent, the epistemic status does; the examples seem to be examples of the contingent a

priori or necessary aposteriori as the result of failing to separate what is known about the

proposition from what is known about the sentence expressing it, i.e., about its the linguistic

vehicle. The considerations which are supposed to show that a given example is

necessary/contingent entail that there are (at least) two sentences which express the same

proposition yet in relation to each of which the proposition appears to differ with respect to a

prioricity. If two sentences express the same proposition, then any difference in what we can









know when we are thinking of a proposition in relation to one or the other must rest on

something made available or not by the sentences themselves. Thus, if it is true that each

example has the modal status it is said to have, then the linguistic vehicle appears to be playing a

role in the suggestion that such examples are a priori/a posteriori. Consider again some of the

examples of the a priori and aposteriori that we discussed.

(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus (aposteriori)
(lb) Hesperus is Hesperus (apriori)
(2) water is H20 (aposteriori)
(2b) Water is water (apriori)
(3) All actual Brooklyn residents are Brooklyn residents (apriori)
(3b) All actual Kings County residents are Brooklyn residents (aposteriori)
(4) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual person who wrote the
Declaration of Independence wrote something (a priori)
(4b) If someone wrote the Declaration of Independence then the actual person who was the
third president of the US wrote something (aposteriori)
(5) Actually, John Kerry is a Massachusetts senator (aposteriori)
(5b) John Kerry is an ext(John Kerry, Ted Kennedy) (apriori)

There is a theme here: each example that is said to be aposteriori contains distinct expressions

on either side of the copula (or in the case of (4b) contains distinct terms in the antecedent and

consequent), whereas each example which is said to be apriori contains identical expressions on

either side of the copula (or, in (4) contains identical terms in the antecedent and consequent).

This is the only linguistic difference between each pair. Thus, if, as suggested, each pair

expresses the same proposition, then it appears to be this linguistic fact that is motivating the

epistemic attributions in the alleged cases of aposteriori necessity and a priori contingency.

Two cases we looked at appear to be exceptions to this:

(19) If Earth exists then Earth is a physical object (aposteriori)
(25) S is on meter long at time t (apriori)

However, notice that in both of these examples what is apriori/aposteriori is relative to a

certain individual or group of individuals. (25), for instance, is supposed to be apriori for the









person who fixes 'one meter' by reference to S at t. Presumably, (25) is not apriori for anyone

else (unless he or she is privy to the decision to fix 'one meter' in this way). But what is it that

precludes others from knowing (25) to be true apriori? It can't simply be that they don't know

what 'one meter' means, because, assuming that the meaning of 'one meter' is the length

designated by that expression, the person who fixes 'one meter' in this way does not know what

the term 'one meter' means either, prior to t-recall that it is part of the story that the length of S

may vary prior to t and, for all this person knows, the length designated by 'one meter' may be

longer or shorter than the length of S at some time t-E, even if he knows the length of S at that

time. Suppose someone else decided, independently, to create a system of measurement, say the

"shmetric system," and fixed 'one shmeter' by reference to the length of some other object, S2 at

t. In such a case, following Kripke's line of reasoning, (25*) is apriori for this person.

(25*) S2 is one shmeter at t.

But now suppose that the lengths of S and S2 are identical at t. In this scenario, 'one meter' and

'one shmeter' designate the same length, but the metric user is not in a position to know apriori

that (25*) is true, nor is the shmetric user in a position to know apriori that (25) is true. One way

to account for this would be to say that (28) is not true apriori for either person.

(28) One meter is one shmeter

But, by hypothesis, (28) expresses the same proposition as (29) and (30), which are (presumably)

23
true a prior.

(29) One meter is one meter
(30) One shmeter is one shmeter





23 At the very least, (29) is true a priori for the metric user and (30) is a priori for the shmetric user.









So it appears the linguistic vehicle is playing a role in this case as well. And notice that (28)-(30)

exhibit the same characteristics as the earlier examples: (29) and (30), which are true apriori,

contain identical terms flanking the copula whereas (28), which is said to be true aposteriori

contains distinct terms flanking the copula.

The same can be seen in the case of (19).

(19) If Earth exists, then Earth is a physical object.

Recall the Planet-X thought experiment. In that scenario 'Earth' and 'Shmearth' refer to the

same object, yet, whereas (19) is supposedly true aposteriori, (20) is true a priori (for the

denizens of Planet-X).

(20) If Shmearth exists, then Shmearth is a physical object.

One way to explain this would be to say that the people on Planet-X don't know that (31) is true

a prior.

(31) Shmearth is Earth

But, by hypothesis, (31) expresses the same proposition as (32), which is true apriori (at least

for those people on Planet-X).24

(32) Shmearth is Shmearth

So it seems the linguistic vehicle is playing a role in this case too. And, again, we see the same

characteristic: the apriori example, (32), contains identical terms, whereas the aposteriori

example, (31), contains distinct terms.

All this strongly suggests that the putative examples of the necessary aposteriori and

contingent apriori are the result of failing to recognize the role the linguistic vehicle plays in the

suggested epistemic status of such examples. If this is right then we have a solution to the initial


24 And, again, barring the existential worry.









puzzle as to how two sentences can express the same proposition/be synonymous yet differ as to

being apriori/a posteriori: the epistemic status of such examples is not wholly based on

knowledge of the proposition expressed/the meaning of the sentence, but rather it includes some

metalinguistic knowledge (or lack thereof) regarding the contained terms. The way one comes to

know the proposition expressed by such sentences is mediated by the linguistic vehicle. Take an

example.

(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus
(lb) Hesperus is Hesperus

We can know that the proposition expressed by (lb) is true because the sentence expressing it is

logically true. But logical truth is a property of sentences and is recognized by attention to

sentence form. So knowledge that the proposition is true rests not just on grasping the

proposition but also on knowledge about the linguistic vehicle used to express it. (1) expresses

the same proposition and we grasp it as well, but the aid that the linguistic vehicle in (lb) gives

to knowing it is true is missing here. So what we know in the case of(lb) is essentially in part

linguistic. Hence, there is no knowledge of the truth of the proposition directly in these cases.

Conclusion

In this paper, I have been concerned with pointing out a problem that is common to the

putative examples of the necessary aposteriori and contingent a priori. I began by noting a

puzzle that arises in each case: the considerations which are taken as evidence that the example is

necessary/contingent leads to the view that there are two sentences which express the same

proposition which differs as to being apriori/aposteriori when considered as expressed by one

and the other. On the assumption that propositions are the bearers of aprioricity, which is

implicit in the traditional view, this leads to contradiction: there is a proposition, p, such that it is

apriori thatp and it is not apriori thatp. I argued that the best way to avoid this is by denying









that such examples are counterexamples to the traditional view. Finally, I noted a characteristic

exhibited by all such examples which suggests an explanation for the initial puzzle: the modal

status of each example is based on the proposition expressed whereas the epistemic status is not;

instead, it appears that the linguistic vehicle is playing a role in the view that such examples are a

priori/a posteriori. Thus, in these cases, there is no one thing that has both the alleged epistemic

and modal statuses which are to provide a counterexample to the traditional alignment of a

prioricity and necessity









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Kaplan, David 1978: "Dthat," in Cole 1978, pp. 221-53.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Shawn Burtoft was born on July 9, 1973 in Sarasota, Florida. He relocated to Marion,

Virginia, at age 12 and graduated from Marion Senior High School in 1991. He earned his B.S.

in philosophy from East Tennessee State University in 2006.

After earning his B.S. degree, Shawn entered the graduate program in philosophy at the

University of Florida, focusing primarily on issues in philosophy of language and metaphysics.

He is currently employed by the History of Science Society.

Upon completion of his M.A., Shawn will enter the Ph.D. program at UF. Upon

completion of his Ph.D., he will seek to establish an academic career in philosophy.