, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 353-370
Date: 01 Dec 2011

The Necessity of Origin: A Long and Winding Route

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In the last 30 years much philosophical discussion has been generated by Kripke’s proof of the necessity of origin for material objects presented in footnote 56 of ‘Naming and Necessity’. I consider the two most popular reconstructions of Kripke’s argument: one appealing to the necessary sufficiency of origin, and the other employing a strong independence principle allegedly derived from the necessary local nature of prevention. I argue that, to achieve a general result, both reconstructions presuppose an implicit Humean atomistic thesis of recombination, according to which any two (non-overlapping) possible objects can simultaneously coexist in one and the same world. Yet recombination ill accords with the other assumptions of the proofs. I also argue that the locality of prevention does not entail strong independence.

I started thinking on this topic some years ago when attending a UCLA seminar on Lecture III of Naming and Necessity led by David Kaplan and Joseph Almog. More recently, conversations with Ori Simchen have been pivotal to the development of this paper. I thank Kaplan, Almog, and Simchen, and also Sylvia Berryman, Louis deRosset, Eric Margolis, Sonia Roca, and Guy Rohrbaugh for comments to previous versions of this paper.