On Considering a Possible World as Actual: Robert Stalnaker
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’
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 2001