Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Terminology Tuesday: Necessary / Contingent

Necessary / Contingent: Distinction between kinds of truth. Necessary truth is a feature of any statement that it would be contradictory to deny. (Contradictions themselves are necessarily false.) Contingent truths (or falsehoods) happen to be true (or false), but might have been otherwise. Thus, for example:

“Squares have four sides.” is necessary.
“Stop signs are hexagonal.” is contingent.
“Pentagons are round.” is contradictory.

This distinction was traditionally associated (before Kant and Kripke) with the distinctions between a priori and a posteriori knowledge and the distinction between analytic and synthetic judgment. Necessity may also be defined de dicto in terms of the formal logical property of tautology.1

1. Philosophy Pages.


4 Comments

  1. Nick Potts November 30, 2010

    wow, this is something that I need to learn and look into a little bit more. I'm not really good at philosophy, I'll definitely have to read up on this soon.

    That's why I couldn't grasp the concept of the Ontological argument for the existence of God, because that's kinda hard to understand haha. but I'm only 21 years old, I have some time haha.

  2. inchristus December 1, 2010

    @Nick…
    The constructs of necessity and contingency applies equally to metaphysics as well as epistemology. Hence, the ontological argument.

  3. bossmanham December 1, 2010

    Nick, definitely read Craig and Moreland's Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. One of the single most important, if not the most important, books I have ever read.

  4. Brian Auten December 1, 2010

    Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview is truly mind-expanding – a must-read.