A proposition is necessary if it could not have been false. We can contemplate various possibilities describing how things might have been but are not; if in all these possibilities a proposition is true, then it is true in all possible worlds or true of necessity. See also necessary/contingent truths, modality, modal logic.
The fundamental explanation of the necessity of a proposition is controversial, and some have doubted whether the category is a useful aid to thought (see Quine ). A relatively clear class of necessary propositions would be those that are analytic (see analytic/synthetic ) since they seem ‘trivially’ true. More substantive problems arise with apparently synthetic necessary truths: classical examples include the proposition that every number has a successor, or nothing can appear red and green all over at the same time. The possibility of synthetic a priori truth is the basic problem faced by Kant in The Critique of Pure Reason . conventionalist theories suggest that we deem certain propositions to be necessary by linguistic convention. Other theories stress the imaginative block we encounter when we try to imagine the possibility of such propositions being true. A category of particular interest recently has been that of propositions which are ‘metaphysically necessary’, yet not in any sense a priori : the proposition that heat in a gas is motion of molecules, or that water is H2O, for example.
A rather different set of philosophical problems also arises with the idea of the necessary unfolding of events in time; in many philosophies the march of events has been seen as inexorable, or pre-ordained, and this is held to have consequences for how we react to problems of choice, or how we think of what has already happened. See also free will, laws of nature . The cluster of considerations focusing on the cosmological argument seek to show that if anything exists contingently, then something must exist of necessity.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Necessity — • A strict connection between different beings, or the different elements of a being, or between a being and its existence. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Necessity     Necessity …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • necessity — ne·ces·si·ty n pl ties 1 a: the presence or pressure of circumstances that justify or compel a certain course of action; esp: a need to respond or react to a dangerous situation by committing a criminal act b: an affirmative defense originating… …   Law dictionary

  • Necessity — Ne*ces si*ty, n.; pl. {Necessities}. [OE. necessite, F. n[ e]cessit[ e], L. necessitas, fr. necesse. See {Necessary}.] 1. The quality or state of being necessary, unavoidable, or absolutely requisite; inevitableness; indispensableness. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • necessity — ► NOUN (pl. necessities) 1) the state or fact of being required or indispensable. 2) an indispensable thing. 3) a situation enforcing a particular course: created more by necessity than design. ● necessity is the mother of invention Cf.… …   English terms dictionary

  • necessity — (n.) late 14c., constraining power of circumstances, from O.Fr. necessité need, necessity; privation, poverty; distress, torment; obligation, duty (12c.), from L. necessitatem (nom. necessitas) compulsion, need for attention, unavoidableness,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • necessity — [nə ses′ətē] n. pl. necessities [ME necessite < OFr nécessité < L necessitas < necesse: see NECESSARY] 1. the power of natural law that cannot be other than it is; natural causation; physical compulsion placed on man by nature; fate 2.… …   English World dictionary

  • necessity — *need, exigency Analogous words: compelling or compulsion, constraining or constraint, obliging or obligation, coercing or coercion (see corresponding verbs at FORCE): indispensableness, requisiteness or requisition, needfulness (see… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • necessity — [n] need, essentiality call, cause, claim, compulsion, demand, desideratum, duress, essence, essential, exaction, exigency, fundamental, godsend*, imperative, indispensability, inevitability, inexorableness, life or death*, must, necessary,… …   New thesaurus

  • necessity — noun 1 fact that sth must happen; sth that cannot be avoided ADJECTIVE ▪ absolute, fundamental (esp. BrE), sheer, vital ▪ Sleep is an absolute necessity for life. ▪ dire, urgent …   Collocations dictionary

  • Necessity — (Roget s Thesaurus) < N PARAG:Necessity >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 involuntariness involuntariness Sgm: N 1 instinct instinct blind impulse Sgm: N 1 inborn proclivity inborn proclivity innate proclivity Sgm: N 1 native tendency native tendency… …   English dictionary for students

  • Necessity — This article is about the definition of necessity according to domestic law. For the concept of necessity in international law, see Military necessity. For logical meanings, see Necessary (disambiguation) and Modal logic …   Wikipedia

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