Contingency and necessity in propositions

Are simple propositions fundamentally necessary or contingent? A priori or a posteriori?

Say I believe in free will and I claim that Jones is a murderer. So “Jones is a murderer” must be a contingent proposition. The claim is true, but it didn’t need to be true. I can give Leibniz’s account of this or Hume’s or the possible worlds analysis, but the general outlines should be clear to everyone.

On the other hand, the claim is clearly made by relating Jones to an unseen world of moral ideals, human obligations, truths about the value of life, appropriate emotional responses to seeing his face, etc. Seen from this angle, the proposition is generated by the relation of an individual in time to a timeless and unchanging world, in which the necessary is functioning as the light in which we are seeing the flux of contingent events or, said a la Plato, the reality of the contingent is constituted by its relationship to the necessary just as the necessary is recognized in (or triggered by) the concrete instance.

The moral world of the above example is just one region of a general timeless and invariant space that also includes the scientific, the beautiful, the rigorous, the mythical, and infinitely other unexplored ‘spaces’. There is no need for this invariant space to be all that distinctly developed: Humans don’t relate to the world as real without keeping one foot in the contingent and another in the necessary, and even toddlers sometimes relate to the world as real.

If we take the truth of the proposition modally,  necessity and contingency are fundamental, but if we take the truth of the proposition as its recording of reality then it is fundamentally a mix of the contingent and the necessary. But the second is more fundamental to the proposition.

 

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