Reference and Contingency

Reference and Contingency - 7 Reference and Contingency'A...

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7 Reference and Contingency 'A logical theory may be tested by its capacity for dealing with puzzles, and it is a wholesome plan, in thinking about logic, to stock the mind with as many puzzles as possible, since these serve much same purpose as is served by experiments in physical science. ' 1 This paper is an attempt follow Russell's advice by using a puzzle about the contingent a priori to test and explore certain theories of reference and modality. No one could claim that puzzle is any great philosophical importance by itself, but understand it, has to get clear about certain aspects the theory reference; and to solve it, one has think a little more deeply than is perhaps accustomed about what it means to say a statement is contingent or necessary. The idea there might be truths which are both con- tingent and a was thrown up by Kripke in the course his celebrated discussion modal and epistemic categories .to which notions the contingent and the a respectively belong.? There has been some discussion the idea since Kripke raised it, all it based upon the assumption existence a statement which is contingent and a would constitute an intolerable paradox. For example, Michael Dummett has argued fact Kripke's views on reference and modality appear to lead to recognition a shows something must be wrong with those views." In other recent discussions, attempts are made to dissolve the puzzle by showing , properly understood, the problemati- cal statements are not contingent and a . There seem to me be clear logical and semantical errors in all From The Monist 62,2 (April 1979), pp. 161-189. Reprinted by permission. 1 B. Russell, 'On Denoting', Mind 14 (1905), pp. 484-5. 2 S. Kripke, 'Naming and Necessity', in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds) Semantics ofNatural Languages (Dordrecht : Reidel, 1972), pp. 253-355. sa M. Dummett, Frege (London: Duckworth, 1973), p. 121.
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Reference and Contingency 179 of these attempts , but more importantly, their starting-point seems incorrect. There is no paradox in the existence statements which are both contingent and a priori, at least , not in sense in which problematical statements may be claimed to be contingent. There are two quite different conceptions what it is for a statement to be contingent; statements may be, as we might say, deeply contingent or superficially contingent. Whether a is deeply con- tingent depends upon what makes it true ; whether a state- ment is superficially contingent depends upon how it embeds inside scope modal operators. While it would be intolerable for there to be a which is know- able a priori and deeply contingent, I shall try show that there is nothing particularly perplexing about a statement which is knowable a priori and super- ficially contingent, which is most problematical statements may be claimed to be.
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This note was uploaded on 03/01/2008 for the course PHL 332 taught by Professor Dever during the Fall '07 term at University of Texas.

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Reference and Contingency - 7 Reference and Contingency'A...

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