Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Kenelm Digby, Willard Quine and Brian R. Martin

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11 ideas

10. Modality / A. Necessity / 2. Nature of Necessity
Necessity can attach to statement-names, to statements, and to open sentences [Quine]
     Full Idea: Three degrees necessity in logic or semantics: first and least is attaching a semantical predicate to the names of statements (as Nec '9>5'); second and more drastic attaches to statements themselves; third and gravest attaches to open sentences.
     From: Willard Quine (Three Grades of Modal Involvement [1953], p.158)
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 4. De re / De dicto modality
To be necessarily greater than 7 is not a trait of 7, but depends on how 7 is referred to [Quine]
     Full Idea: To be necessarily greater than 7 is not a trait of a number, but depends on the manner of referring to the number.
     From: Willard Quine (Reference and Modality [1953], §2)
     A reaction: The most concise quotation of Quine's objection to 'de re' modality. The point is whether the number might have been referred to as 'the number of planets'. So many of these problems are solved by fixing unambiguous propositions first.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 6. Logical Necessity
Contrary to some claims, Quine does not deny logical necessity [Quine, by McFetridge]
     Full Idea: Nothing in Quine's argument seems to be said directly against the view that the propositions of logic are necessary truths, ..though Crispin Wright has represented him as saying this at the end of 'Two Dogmas'.
     From: report of Willard Quine (Two Dogmas of Empiricism [1953]) by Ian McFetridge - Logical Necessity: Some Issues §3
     A reaction: Quine famously denies that logical truths are merely a matter of convention, so the question is, if he believes in logical necessity, what does he think is the basis of it? Answers, as always, on a postcard.
Frege moved Kant's question about a priori synthetic to 'how is logical certainty possible?' [Quine]
     Full Idea: When Kant's arithmetical examples of a priori synthetic judgements were sweepingly disqualified by Frege's reduction of arithmetic to logic, attention moved to the less tendentious and logically prior question 'How is logical certainty possible?'
     From: Willard Quine (Carnap and Logical Truth [1954], I)
     A reaction: A nice summary of the story so far, from someone who should know. This still leaves the question open of whether any synthetic truths can be derived from the logical certainties which are available.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity
Necessity is in the way in which we say things, and not things themselves [Quine]
     Full Idea: Necessity resides in the way in which we say things, and not in the things we talk about.
     From: Willard Quine (Three Grades of Modal Involvement [1953], p.176)
     A reaction: This is a culminating idea of Quine's thoroughgoing empiricism, as filtered through logical positivism. I would hardly dare to accuse Quine of a use/mention confusion (his own bęte noir), but one seems to me to be lurking here.
Whether 9 is necessarily greater than 7 depends on how '9' is described [Quine, by Fine,K]
     Full Idea: Quine's metaphysical argument is that if 9 is 7+2 the number 9 will be necessarily greater than 7, but when 9 is described as the number of planets, the number will not be necessarily greater than 7. The necessity depends on how it is described.
     From: report of Willard Quine (Reference and Modality [1953]) by Kit Fine - Intro to 'Modality and Tense' p. 3
     A reaction: Thus necessity would be entirely 'de dicto' and not 'de re'. It sounds like a feeble argument. If I describe the law of identity (a=a) as 'my least favourite logical principle', that won't make it contingent. Describe 9, or refer to it? See Idea 9203.
Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction undermined necessary truths [Quine, by Shoemaker]
     Full Idea: Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction sought to contract, if not to empty, the class of truths that are called necessary.
     From: report of Willard Quine (Two Dogmas of Empiricism [1953]) by Sydney Shoemaker - Causal and Metaphysical Necessity I
     A reaction: The thought was that absolutely everything, including, for example, basic logic, became potentially revisable. See the last section of Quine's paper.
Necessity only applies to objects if they are distinctively specified [Quine]
     Full Idea: Necessity does not properly apply to the fulfilment of conditions by objects (such as the number which numbers the planets), apart from special ways of specifying them.
     From: Willard Quine (Reference and Modality [1953], §3)
     A reaction: This appears to say that the only necessity is 'de dicto', and that there is no such thing as 'de re' necessity (of the thing in itself). How can Quine deny that there might be de re necessities? His point is epistemological - how can we know them?
There is no necessity higher than natural necessity, and that is just regularity [Quine]
     Full Idea: In principle I see no higher or more austere necessity than natural necessity; and in natural necessity, or our attribution of it, I see only Hume's regularities
     From: Willard Quine (Necessary Truth [1963], p.76)
     A reaction: Presumably this allows logical necessity as a 'lower' necessity, but denies 'metaphysical' necessity, in line with Hume and other tough empiricists. Personally I adore metaphysical necessities, but they are a bit hard to establish conclusively.
Necessity could be just generalisation over classes, or (maybe) quantifying over possibilia [Quine]
     Full Idea: The need to add a note of necessity to 'all black crows are black' could be met by a generalisation over classes (what belongs to sets x and y belongs to y), or maybe be quantifying over possible particulars.
     From: Willard Quine (On Multiplying Entities [1974], p.262)
     A reaction: He dislikes the second strategy because 'unactualized particulars are an obscure and troublesome lot'. The second is the strategy of Lewis. I think necessity starts to creep back in as soon as you ask WHY a generalisation holds true.
Necessity is relative to context; it is what is assumed in an inquiry [Quine]
     Full Idea: The very notion of necessity makes sense to me only relative to context. Typically it is applied to what is assumed in an inquiry, as against what has yet to transpire.
     From: Willard Quine (Intensions Revisited [1977], p.121)
     A reaction: Lots of things are assumed by an inquiry without an assumption that they must be true. Quine is the greatest opponent of necessity in all of philosophy. Asserting necessities, though, is too much fun to give up. It would ruin philosophy.