Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy

Marco Ruffino

University of Campinas

Contingent A Priori Truths and Performatives

19 June 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: My primary goal in this paper is to defend the plausibility of Kripke’s (1980) thesis that there are contingent a priori truths, and to fill out some gaps in Kripke’s own account of these truths. But the strategy here adopted is, to the best of my knowledge, still unexplored and different from the one adopted both by Kripke himself and by his critics. I first argue that Kripke’s examples of such truths can only be legitimate if seen as introduced by performative utterances (in Austin’s (1962) sense). And, if this is so, we can apply the machinery of illocutionary act theory (especially Searle and Vanderveken (1985)) to these utterances to explain how one can have a priori knowledge of some contingent facts generated by the utterances themselves. I shall argue that the overall strategy can fill out two gaps in Kripke’s original account: first, we can explain the nature of the truth-makers of contingent a priori truths (they are institutional facts in Searle’s (1969) sense, broadly conceived) and, second, we can explain how contingent a priori knowledge can be transmitted from one speaker to another (via the notion of illocutionary commitment).