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Necessary BeingsAn Essay on Ontology, Modality, and the Relations Between Them$
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Bob Hale

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669578

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669578.001.0001

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The Source of Logical Necessities

The Source of Logical Necessities

Chapter:
(p.116) 5 The Source of Logical Necessities
Source:
Necessary Beings
Author(s):

Hale Bob

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669578.003.0006

When it is necessary that p, what makes it so? In Michael Dummett’s words, what is the source of necessity? Some old arguments of Quine and Dummettare rehearsed, which show that not all necessities can be the product of conventions, and a further argument is given to show that none can. These arguments apply most clearly to conventionalism, but can be extended to cover looser versions of the linguistic theory which claim that necessity reduces to truth in virtue of meaning. Since matters of meaning and convention are contingent, defenders of conventionalism and truth in virtue of meaning must reject the S4 principle that what is necessary is necessarily so. As against this, it is argued that the logic of absolute necessity is the yet stronger modal logic S5. To complete the discussion of Blackburn’s Dilemma (see Ch.3), it is argued that the necessity-horn of that dilemma overlooks the possibility of non-transmissive explanations of necessity. Such explanations may be given in terms of the nature or essence of the logical functions.

Keywords:   conventionalism, truth-in-virtue-of-meaning, Quine’s regress, Dummett’s objection, S4, S5, Blackburn’s Dilemma, non-transmissive explanation

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