Identity of Meaning and Necessity

  • William Knowles

Student thesis: Phd


The central claim of the dissertation is that the relationship between synonymies (such as between ‘bachelor’ and ‘unmarried man’) and attendant necessary truths (such as ‘All bachelors are unmarried men’) provides a way in which the latter can be regarded as analytic which escapes the usual objections. The spotlight, then, will be on the two sentences, 1) ‘bachelor’ and ‘unmarried man’ are synonymous 2) All bachelors are unmarried men and the relationship between them. They are widely acknowledged to be related, but the Accepted View of this relationship is, the author hopes to show, implausible. Instead, it is argued that the relationship should be viewed as one where the truth of 1) guarantees that of 2), which, consequently, is analytic, true in virtue of its meaning. To anchor the dissertation in the philosophical seascape, discussion will be framed in terms of the once-popular linguistic theory of modality, according to which necessity simply is analyticity. The linguistic theory has been faced with a great number of critical questions over the years. The author hopes to provide some potentially important answers to these questions but does not pretend to have them all. The overall aim is not so much to show that the linguistic theory is definitely true, but rather that it is at least not as obviously false as many philosophers believe.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorFraser Macbride (Supervisor) & Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Supervisor)


  • synonymy
  • necessity
  • linguistic theory of modality

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