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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


L ogic, metaphysics A basic philosophical distinction. Contingent propositions happen to be true or happen to be false, but could be otherwise. According to a possible world account, a proposition is contingent if and only if it is true in at least one possible world and false in at least one other possible world. Necessary propositions are true whatever the circumstances. Necessary propositions are true in all possible worlds. Philosophers disagree whether there are any necessary propositions. Some restrict necessary propositions to propositions that are analytic or true because of their logical form , including logical and mathematical propositions. Others argue that some propositions can be metaphysically, transcendentally, or naturally necessary. A contingent event is one that does not necessarily take place. If there are necessary events, natural rather than logical necessity is involved. The provision of a semantics for modal terms (such as necessary and possibly) and the revival of essentialism has led to renewed interest in the distinction between what is necessary de dicto (of a statement) and what is necessary de re (of a thing). “Classical metaphysics depreciated the contingent … As late as Hegel, ‘necessary’ is a word for laudation, and ‘contingent’ of denigration.” Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis and Philosophical Method ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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