Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

General consensus has it that contingencies lack the requisite modal umph to serve as explanations for the modal status of necessities. The central aim of this paper is to show that this received opinion is incorrect: contingent necessity-makers are in fact possible. To do so, I identify certain conditions the satisfaction of which entail the possibility of contingent necessity-makers. I then argue for two broad instances where these conditions are satisfied. Consequently, the associated necessities in fact have contingent necessity-makers.

Some time ago, Dummett claimed that the central philosophical problem about necessity is two-fold: “what is its source, and how do we recognise it” (Dummett 1959: 169). Many, though most obviously Hale (2002, 2013), have understood the first of Dummett’s problems as demanding an explanation for necessity. This can either take the form of a local explanation of the modal status of a particular necessity—i.e., why it is that P is necessary—or a general explanation of the existence of necessities—i.e., why is that there are any…


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