Donnellan on the Necessary A Posteriori

Erin Eaker

in Having in Mind

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844845
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933501 | DOI:
Donnellan on the Necessary A Posteriori

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This chapter seeks to bring to light some of Keith Donnellan’s underappreciated views concerning the surprising metaphysical claim that is supposed to follow from a popular theory of reference. The claim is that certain “theoretical identifications of science”—that is, statements of the form “Water is H2O” or “Gold is the element with atomic number 79”—are necessary truths even though they can be known only through a posteriori or empirical methods, not through a priori reasoning or analysis. Such claims were famously made by Kripke and Putnam in the 1970s. Donnellan’s views on the matter are underappreciated, because not all of them have been published. But the views that emerge from both Donnellan’s published paper “Kripke and Putnam on Natural Kind Terms” and Nathan Salmon’s discussion of Donnellan’s unpublished papers focus on a set of issues that are underdeveloped in the usual discussions of “the necessary a posteriori”.

Keywords: Keith Donnellan; theory of reference; theoretical identifications of science; necessary truths

Chapter.  11894 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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