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On Considering a Possible World as Actual: Robert Stalnaker

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Abstract:

Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world ‘as actual’ or ‘as counterfactual’ in determining the truth-value of the statement relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to ‘consider a world as actual’, but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth.

‘Hell is paved with primary intensions’

English proverb

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8349.00083

Affiliations: MIT

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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