4

I'm currently reading Kaplan's On The Logic of Demonstratives (1979). He considers the example

(1) I am here now.

and on page 84 he argues that

(b) In almost (if not all) contexts, an utterance of (1) expresses a contingent proposition.

Considering the phrase "In almost (if not all) contexts": why would there be any doubt about the contingency of the proposition expressed by the utterance of "I am here now"?

How can an agent be positioned somewhere, forever at all possible worlds?

2
  • It seems that Kaplan makes a difference between logical truth and necessary truth (true in every possible world): according to his account "I am here now" is a logical truth (in the logic of demostratives) but it is not necessary. In similar way, there are statements, like "Hesperus is Phosphorus" that are necessary but do not express a logical truth. Commented Mar 13 at 15:23
  • 4
    The point is that saying, "I am here now" might seem to be necessarily true, since it can never be false when anybody says it. But it is in fact contingent because I might have been somewhere else. Depending on how you choose to analyse such things, it potentially indicates a difference between necessary truth and a priori knowability. I always know, "I am here now" is true, but there is nothing necessary about my location.
    – Bumble
    Commented Mar 13 at 17:19

2 Answers 2

3

Why would there be any doubt about the contingency of the proposition expressed by the utterance of (1)?

How can an agent be positioned somewhere, sometime in all possible worlds?

In the instance that there is only a single possible world (necessitarianism) the utterance of (1), assuming it is true, would be a necessary truth.

1
  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. That's a great remark. Do you agree that although (1)'s necessity would be valid in such models, they wouldn't be LD-valid, since it would work only on those models, but not all of them? If so, is such a statement incoherent with Kaplan's LD?
    – Harpagos
    Commented Mar 13 at 18:41
3

It's not that there is doubt about the contingency of the proposition; it is that the proposition can be known to be true a priori. Some philosophers have argued that the way we can know that a proposition is true a priori is that it is necessary. This is an alleged counter-example to that claim, a proposition that is known to be true a priori, but that is not necessary.

Someone could argue that this is not a counter-example, because although the sentence "I am here now" can be known to be true a priori, this sentence actually represents many different propositions--a different proposition for each possible meaning of "I", "here", and "now". That is, when Aristotle, standing in the Parthenon in 350 BC says the sentence, it expresses the same proposition as "Aristotle is in the Parthenon in 350 BC", but when Julius Caesar standing in the Coliseum in 50 BC says the sentence, it expresses the entirely different proposition, "Julius Caesar is in the Coliseum in 50 BC".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .