Meaning and Metaphysical Necessity
Tristan Grøtvedt Haze (University of Melbourne)

April 14, 2022, 4:15pm - 6:15pm
University of Melbourne

Babel G03 (Lower Theatre)
Grattan Street
Melbourne University 3010


University of Melbourne

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Some true statements--necessarily true statements--would have been true no matter how the world had turned out, while others—contingently true statements—could have been false. In this talk I will defend the idea that we tell the difference between these two types of truths in part by reflecting on the meanings of words. We can't in general know, just by reflecting on the meaning of a statement, whether it is necessarily true. Nor can we in general know, just by reflecting on the meaning of a statement, that if it is true at all, then it's necessarily true. But for any necessarily true statement S, I maintain, there is some statement R such that we can know, just by reflecting on the meanings of R and S, that if R is true then S is necessarily true. In this way, every necessary truth has a decider: a statement, not necessarily the same one, whose truth ensures the necessity of the necessary truth. In service of this view, I develop some ideas about linguistic meaning, applying them to several puzzles and problems in philosophy of language. I then run into more metaphysical difficulties.

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