Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Naming and Necessity, Lecture I

On Thursday the largest group of students in workshop history assembled to discuss lecture I of Naming and Necessity. The group included several prospective graduate students. We had nicer beer this time to complement the larger numbers--Becks and Heineken instead of the usual Schlitz and Old Style.

David F. placed N&N in its philosophical context and Jason B. used his "Socratic" teaching method (which involves posing a difficult question point-blank to the group as a whole) to get discussion started. The most interesting moments of the discussion were the following:

1. David F. asked whether "That's Chris F." states a necessary truth. Answer: yes. This was the least contentious example of a necessary truth known a posteriori. Even the Kantians present could not muster a compelling response to this example. There was a brief discussion of whether propositions themselves are a priori or a posteriori or whether it is justifications of propositions that are a priori or a posteriori.

2. There was a long discussion of the contingent a priori. Several people worried that stipulation does not extend our knowledge. We focused on one footnote in particular, n. 26 on pp. 63-64. As far as I can remember, we didn't come to an agreement about why Kripke dismissed this worry.

Next time we will discuss lecture II of N&N.

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