Peacocke’s Epiphany: A Possible Problem for Semantic Approaches to Metaphysical Necessity

Philosophia Scientiae 16 (2):99-116 (2012)
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Abstract
In his _Being Known_ Peacocke sets himself the task of answering how we come to know about metaphysical necessities. He proposes a semantic principle-based conception consisting of, first, his Principles of Possibility which pro­vide necessary and sufficient conditions for a new concept 'admissibility', and second, characterizations of possibility and of necessity in terms of that new con­cept. I focus on one structural feature; viz. the recursive application involved in the specification of 'admissibility'. After sketching Peacocke’s proposal, I intro­duce a fictional protagonist, Cautious Peacocke, whose coherence I claim shows that Peacocke s proposal cannot be made good. I conclude with the conjecture that similar failure will attend any such semantic-based attempts to ground the epistemology of metaphysical necessity. Dans son livre intitulé Being Known, C. Peacocke se propose de repondre à la question de savoir comment nous en venons a connaitre des nécessités métaphysiques. Il développe une conception sémantique reposant sur des principes comprenant, d’une part, ses Principes de Possibilité — qui fournissent les conditions nécessaires et suffisantes pour un nouveau concept, « l’admissibilité » — et d’autre part des caractérisations de la possibilité et de la nécessité a l’aide de ce nouveau concept. Je me concentre sur une caractéristique structurelle, a savoir l’application récursive a l’œuvre dans la spécification de «l’admissibilité ». Apres avoir esquisse la proposition de Peacocke, j’introduis un personnage fictif, Peacocke-prudent. Je soutiens que la cohérence de ce personnage montre que la proposition de Peacocke ne peut pas être satisfaite. Je conclus en conjecturant qu’un échec similaire se présentera pour toutes les tentatives de fonder l’épistemologie de la nécessité métaphysique sur de telles bases semantiques.
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Archival date: 2016-11-03
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Being Known.Peacocke, Christopher
Necessity, Caution and Scepticism.Hale, Bob & Wright, Crispin
Morals and Modals.Blackburn, Simon

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