Volume 11, Issue 1, 2014
A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism
Are Standard Lawlike Propositions Metaphysically Necessary? Hildebrand vs. Groarke
I discuss Dietrich von Hildebrand, a realist phenomenologist, and Louis Groarke, an Aristotelian. They are close in epistemology and modal metaphysics, but divided about the metaphysical necessity of standard lawlike propositions – i.e., standard natural laws and standard truths about natural kinds. I extract and undermine the reasons of both authors. Hildebrand claims that no standard lawlike proposition is metaphysically necessary, since none is in principle knowable solely by considering essences. I undermine this when I argue that the explanation of positive instances of at least some standard lawlike propositions by the metaphysical necessity of these propositions is quite plausibly (though not probably) true. Groarke claims that some standard lawlike propositions are metaphysically necessary, since their positive instances exemplify natural kinds that make all their members necessarily similar in relevant ways. I undermine this, too, as I point out the obscurity of relevant similarity. Finally I argue against Groarke’s suggestion that an appeal to relevant similarity is presupposed in all acceptable inductive arguments from samples.