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Title: A study of necessity
Author: Ahmed, A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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The concern of this thesis is the widely-held belief in the necessity, in the strongest sense, of certain statements and inferences, in particular those whose truth, or truth-preservation, is a matter of simple arithmetic or logic applied to experience. Concerning this belief, I ask; i) can it be justified? and ii) can it be explained? The answers will be i) No; ii) Yes. Chapter 1 attempts to clarify just what is involved in regarding a statement or rule of inference as necessary. It discusses and rejects a number of suggestions, including one of Quine's. It settles on an answer of Ian McFetridge's (1.4-5) considers arguments of Wright and Hale that the practice of refuting theories on the basis of observation imposes a methodological imperative to treat some statements or inferences as necessary. The chapter attempts to rebut these arguments and to defend a Quinean methodology that imposes no such need for necessity. It is conceded, though, that the arguments drive the Quinean into Dummettian anti-realism about doxastic modification. It is concluded that the answer to question i) is "No". Chapter 2 discusses the connection commonly held to obtain between these two distinctions: necessary/contingent and imaginable/unimaginable. It distinguishes a number of ways of understanding "imaginable" and in each case argues that our inability to imagine that ~p neither justifies nor explains our belief in the necessity of p. In particular, it analyses the notion of visualisation. An appendix applies the analysis of visualisation in defence of Berkeley's "Master Argument". Chapter 3 considers an argument that the necessity of truths of propositional logic can be derived from the truth-tabular definitions of the logical constants. It is argued that such a derivation rests on a misinterpretation of the truth-tables. An appendix applies this argument to a related discussion of Peacocke's.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available