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Analytic Philosophy in AmericaAnd Other Historical and Contemporary Essays$
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Scott Soames

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691160726

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691160726.001.0001

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Kripke on Epistemic and Metaphysical Possibility

Kripke on Epistemic and Metaphysical Possibility

Two Routes to the Necessary a Posteriori

(p.167) 7 Kripke on Epistemic and Metaphysical Possibility
Analytic Philosophy in America

Scott Soames

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses Saul Kripke’s treatment of the necessary a posteriori and concomitant distinction between epistemic and metaphysical possibility. It extracts the enduring lessons of his treatment of these matters and disentangles them from errors and confusions that mar some of his most important discussions. It argues that there are two Kripkean routes to the necessary a posteriori—one correct and philosophically far-reaching; the other incorrect, philosophically misleading, and the source of damaging errors that persist to this day. It connects two false principles involved in the second, unsuccessful, route to the necessary a posteriori with the plausible and potentially correct idea that believing a singular proposition that o is F always involves also believing a richer more descriptively informative proposition in which some further property plays a role in the agent’s thoughts about o. It explains why this idea will not save the failed second route to the necessary a posteriori and suggests that it may help reconcile Kripke’s insights with the lessons of Frege’s puzzle.

Keywords:   Saul Kripke, necessary a posteriori, epistemic possibility, metaphysical possibility

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