Single Idea 9201

[catalogued under 10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity]

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.

Gist of Idea

Whether 9 is necessarily greater than 7 depends on how '9' is described


report of Willard Quine (Reference and Modality [1953]) by Kit Fine - Intro to 'Modality and Tense' p. 3

Book Reference

Fine,Kit: 'Modality and Tense' [OUP 2005], 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.

Related Idea

Idea 9203 We can't quantify in modal contexts, because the modality depends on descriptions, not objects [Quine, by Fine,K]