Inference as Consciousness of Necessity

Analytic Philosophy 61 (4):304-322 (2020)
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Abstract
Consider the following three claims. (i) There are no truths of the form ‘p and ~p’. (ii) No one holds a belief of the form ‘p and ~p’. (iii) No one holds any pairs of beliefs of the form {p, ~p}. Irad Kimhi has recently argued, in effect, that each of these claims holds and holds with metaphysical necessity. Furthermore, he maintains that they are ultimately not distinct claims at all, but the same claim formulated in different ways. I find his argument suggestive, if not entirely transparent. I do think there is at least an important kernel of truth even in (iii), and that (i) ultimately explains what’s right about the other two. Consciousness of an impossibility makes belief in the obtaining of the corresponding state of affairs an impossibility. Interestingly, an appreciation of this fact brings into view a novel conception of inference, according to which it consists in the consciousness of necessity. This essay outlines and defends this position. A central element of the defense is that it reveals how reasoners satisfy what Paul Boghossian calls the Taking Condition and do so without engendering regress.
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First archival date: 2019-02-15
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