, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 109-130
Date: 17 Dec 2010

Manifesting belief in absolute necessity

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Abstract

McFetridge (in Logical necessity and other essays. London: Blackwell, 1990) suggests that to treat a proposition as logically necessary—to believe a proposition logically necessary, and to manifest that belief—is a matter of preparedness to deploy that proposition as a premise in reasoning from any supposition. We consider whether a suggestion in that spirit can be generalized to cover all cases of absolute necessity, both logical and non-logical, and we conclude that it can. In Sect. 2, we explain the significance that such an account of manifestation of belief in absolute necessity has for the prospects of a non-realist theory of modality. In Sect. 3, we offer a sympathetic articulation of the detail that underlies the McFetridge conception of belief in logical necessity. In Sects. 4 and 5, we show that the conception so articulated will not generalize to encompass all cases of belief in absolute necessity and proceed to offer a remedy. Our proposal is based upon a distinction between two kinds of suppositional act: A-supposing and C-supposing (Sect. 6). In Sect. 7, we then explain and defend our central thesis: (roughly) that (manifestation of) belief in absolute necessity is a matter of preparedness to deploy as a premise in reasoning under any C-supposition. Finally, we indicate that there is some promise in the parallel thesis that manifestation of the treatment of a proposition as a priori is a matter of preparedness to deploy as a premise in reasoning under any A-supposition (Sect. 8).