Demonstration and Necessity: A short note on Metaphysics 1015b6-9

Archai: Revista de Estudos Sobre as Origens Do Pensamento Ocidental 33 (33):1-24 (2023)
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I discuss a short string of five sentences in Metaphysics V.5, 1015b6-9 relating demonstration to necessity. My proposal is that Aristotle focuses his attention on the demonstration as a demonstration. Other interpretations reduce the necessity in question to the modality of the component sentences of the demonstrations (the conclusion and the premises). My view does not deny that the modality of the component sentences is important, but takes seriously the idea that a demonstration itself should be understood as necessary—as not capable of being otherwise. A demonstration cannot be different from what it is in the sense that [i] its components cannot be different from what they are, [ii] its components must be related to each other exactly in the way they are related. Demonstrations aim at the fully appropriate explanation of a given explanandum—and each demonstration is individuated by the explanandum it takes. Thus, the basic idea is that, for the target explanandum that individuates a given demonstration, the premises delivering the fully appropriate explanation cannot be replaces with different ones. I show how this proposal, which explains Aristotle’s language in 1015b6-9 accurately, does not make demonstrations ‘melt down into conditional necessity’, first, because the modality of the component sentences is still importantly involved, second, because the explanatory relation expressed in a demonstration is a necessary fact in the real world, so that the demonstration itself is also necessary (in the way I have explained) inasmuch as it captures that fact.

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Lucas Angioni
University of Campinas


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