Part of the SYNTHESE LIBRARY book series (SYLI, volume 334)

In this paper I am mainly concerned with an analysis of the Aristotelian concept of “hypothetical necessity.” It will be defined as a functional synthesis that avoids both the Platonistic reduction of necessity to abstract or mathematical necessity (what the scholastics called “simple” necessity, as contrasted with necessity “secundum quid”) and the empiricistic reduction of necessity (cf. John Stuart Mill) to genetically explicable, yet logically ungrounded, generalization of contingent conjunction. What is characteristic of the Platonistic interpretation of necessity as a formal relation between intensions or essences, is that it involves the banishment of necessity from existence: “Whatever is, might not be,” as Hume said. The empiricist, then, emphasizes that, insofar as a necessary judgment is existential in reference, it represents a generalization of a contingent “conjunction,” which generalization will have a psychological cause, viz., the “generalizing propensity,” in Mill’s phrase, or the “gentle forces” of association, in Hume’s phrase, but no logical ground, and will never represent a necessary connection. The concept of hypothetical necessity helps, as I shall endeavor to show, to avoid the exclusive disjunction, advocated by Hume and his positivistic followers: either existential or necessary, but not both.


Logical Necessity Methodological Rule Aristotelian Concept Logical Priority Exclusive Disjunction 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Wesleyan UniversityMiddletownU.S.A.

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