Research Article

Knowledge of Necessity: Logical Positivism and Kripkean Essentialism

Stephen K. McLeoda1

a1 University of Liverpool


By the lights of a central logical positivist thesis in modal epistemology, for every necessary truth that we know, we know it a priori and for every contingent truth that we know, we know it a posteriori. Kripke attacks on both flanks, arguing that we know necessary a posteriori truths and that we probably know contingent a priori truths. In a reflection of Kripke's confidence in his own arguments, the first of these Kripkean claims is far more widely accepted than the second. Contrary to received opinion, the paper argues, the considerations Kripke adduces concerning truths purported to be necessary a posteriori do not disprove the logical positivist thesis that necessary truth and a priori truth are co-extensive.