Necessarily, Salt Dissolves in Water


Analysis 61(4)  267-74  October 2001







I argue that some higher level laws, such as the law that salt dissolves in water, are metaphysically necessary.  This holds even if the fundamental laws of nature are themselves contingent.  Assuming only Kripkean necessity of identity, I show that the existence of salt entails the truth of a deeper law (Coulomb’s law of electrostatic attraction).  The latter is sufficient to make salt dissolve in water.  Hence there is no possible world in which salt exists but dissolving does not occur.  I conclude that this shows that our intuitions regarding necessity and contingency are unreliable and that those intuitions have no force against views (such as dispositionalism about properties) that require all laws of nature to be necessary.