Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Barry Smith, E.J. Lowe and Rosalind Hursthouse

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13 ideas

10. Modality / A. Necessity / 3. Types of Necessity
'Conceptual' necessity is narrow logical necessity, true because of concepts and logical laws [Lowe]
     Full Idea: I can accept 'conceptual' necessity, as long as it is only identified with 'narrow' logical necessity. For I take it that the 'conceptually' necessary is that which is true solely in virtue of concepts together with the laws of logic.
     From: E.J. Lowe (The Possibility of Metaphysics [1998], 1.4)
     A reaction: In the narrow version of logical necessity (Idea 8260) some definitions are required in addition to the mere laws of logic. This implies that the concepts are dependent of definitions, which is a bit restrictive. Aren't we allowed undefined concepts?
Logical necessities, based on laws of logic, are a proper sub-class of metaphysical necessities [Lowe]
     Full Idea: If logically necessary truths are consequences of the laws of logic, then I think they are only a proper sub-class of the class of metaphysically necessary truths.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 1)
     A reaction: The problem for this is unusual and bizarre systems of logic, or systems that contradict one another. This idea is only plausible if you talk about the truths derived from some roughly 'classical' core of logic. 'Tonk' won't do it!
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 5. Metaphysical Necessity
Metaphysical necessity is logical necessity 'broadly construed' [Lowe, by Lynch/Glasgow]
     Full Idea: Lowe (1998) defines metaphysical necessity in terms of logical necessity 'broadly contrued'.
     From: report of E.J. Lowe (The Possibility of Metaphysics [1998]) by Lynch,MP/Glasgow,JM - The Impossibility of Superdupervenience n 3
     A reaction: [I seem to have missed this simple thought in Lowe 1998 - must revisit]. Both metaphysical and logical necessity can be taken as 'true in all possible worlds', but that doesn't make them the same truths.
'Metaphysical' necessity is absolute and objective - the strongest kind of necessity [Lowe]
     Full Idea: By 'metaphysical' necessity I mean necessity of the strongest possible kind - absolute necessity - and I take it to be an objective kind of necessity, rather than being something mind-dependent.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 1)
     A reaction: See Bob Hale for the possibility that 'absolute' and 'metaphysical' necessity might come apart. I think I believe in metaphysical necessity, but I'm uneasy about 'absolute' necessity. That may be discredited by the sceptics.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 6. Logical Necessity
Logical necessity can be 'strict' (laws), or 'narrow' (laws and definitions), or 'broad' (all logical worlds) [Lowe]
     Full Idea: 'Strict' logical necessity is true by the laws of logic alone; 'narrow' logical necessity is true by the laws of logic plus definitions of non-logical terms; 'broad' logical necessity is true in every possible world where the laws of logic hold.
     From: E.J. Lowe (The Possibility of Metaphysics [1998], 1.4)
     A reaction: Lowe then says the third is close to 'metaphysical' necessity. I am unable to distinguish the third from the first. You can't claim that a logical implication holds in this world, but not in another possible world which has the same rules of implication.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
The metaphysically possible is what acceptable principles and categories will permit [Lowe]
     Full Idea: What is 'metaphysically' possible hinges …on the question of whether acceptable metaphysical principles and categories permit the existence of some state of affairs.
     From: E.J. Lowe (The Possibility of Metaphysics [1998], 1.3)
     A reaction: Lowe breezes along with confident assertions like this. I once heard Kit Fine tease him for over-confidence. All you do is work out 'acceptable' principles and categories, and you've cracked it!
It is impossible to reach a valid false conclusion from true premises, so reason itself depends on possibility [Lowe]
     Full Idea: Reasoning itself depends upon a grasp of possibilities, because a valid argument is one in which it is not possible for the conclusion to be false if the premises are true.
     From: E.J. Lowe (A Survey of Metaphysics [2002], p.11)
     A reaction: A very valuable corrective to my pessimistic view of philosophers' attempts to understand metaphysical necessity. But if we can only grasp natural necessity, then all reason is naturalistic.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 2. Epistemic possibility
'Epistemic' necessity is better called 'certainty' [Lowe]
     Full Idea: 'Epistemic' necessity is more properly to be called 'certainty'.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 1)
     A reaction: Sounds wrong. Surely I can be totally certain of a contingent truth?
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 6. Necessity from Essence
If an essence implies p, then p is an essential truth, and hence metaphysically necessary [Lowe]
     Full Idea: If we can truly affirm that it is part of the essence of some entity that p is the case, then p is an essential truth and so a metaphysically necessary truth.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 6)
     A reaction: This feels too quick. He is trying to expound the idea (which I like) that necessity derives from essences, and not vice versa. Is it a metaphysical necessity that there are no moths in my wardrobe, because mothballs have driven them away? Maybe.
Metaphysical necessity is either an essential truth, or rests on essential truths [Lowe]
     Full Idea: A metaphysically necessary truth is a truth which is either an essential truth or a truth that obtains in virtue of the essences of two or more distinct things. Hence all metaphysical necessity is grounded in essence.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 6)
     A reaction: Lowe is endeavouring to give an exposition of the approach advocated by Kit Fine. I divide necessities 'because of' things (such as essences) from necessities 'for' things, such as situations or events.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / a. Possible worlds
We might eliminate 'possible' and 'necessary' in favour of quantification over possible worlds [Lowe]
     Full Idea: It may be possible to eliminate the modal operators (in English, 'is possible' and 'is necessary') in favour of quantifier expressions with variables ranging over possible worlds.
     From: E.J. Lowe (A Survey of Metaphysics [2002], p.121)
     A reaction: Hence 'necessary' becomes 'exists/is true in all possible worlds'. Deep problems, but at least we must show that referring to 'possible' worlds isn't a circular explanation of 'is possible'.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / e. Against possible worlds
Does every abstract possible world exist in every possible world? [Lowe]
     Full Idea: Possible worlds, conceived of as abstracta, surely exist 'in every possible world'.
     From: E.J. Lowe (The Possibility of Metaphysics [1998], 12)
     A reaction: A possible very infinite regress, if a particular possible world is distinguished from another only by being perceived from Actual Word 1 or Actual World 2.. How many possible worlds are there? The standard answer is 'lots', rather than infinity.
We could give up possible worlds if we based necessity on essences [Lowe]
     Full Idea: If we explicate the notion of metaphysical necessity in terms of the notion of essence, rather than vice versa, this may enable us to dispense with the language of possible worlds as a means of explicating modal statements.
     From: E.J. Lowe (What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths? [2013], 6)
     A reaction: This is the approach I favour, though I am not convinced that the two approaches are in competition, since essentialism gives the driving force for necessity, whereas possible worlds map the logic and semantics of it.