Frontloading and the Necessary A Posteriori

Mikkel Gerken*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this paper, I reevaluate Kripke’s arguments for the necessary a posteriori contra a Kantian pure modal rationalism according to which modal cognition is a priori. I argue that Kripke’s critique of Kant suggests an impure but nevertheless ambitious modal rationalism according to which the basis of modal cognition remains a priori. I then argue that Kripke’s critique of pure modal rationalism does not go deep enough. More specifically, I argue that certain conditional modal judgments, which Kripke regards as a priori, are, in fact, a posteriori. An example is the conditional modal judgment that if gold is a metal, then it is necessary that gold is a metal (if gold exists). However, Chalmers has developed a general frontloading strategy for turning a posteriori conditionals into a priori ones. So, I consider whether the frontloading strategy may be applied in a development of a modest modal rationalist account of the necessary a posteriori. Although the frontloading strategy is attractive for the modal rationalist, I argue for a twofold conclusion. First, I conclude that a posteriori conditionals constitute a serious and unanswered challenge to modal rationalists. Second, I conclude that the frontloading strategy does not by itself provide a response to this challenge and that substantiating the strategy is problematic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Australasian Association of Philosophy.


  • frontloading
  • modal epistemology
  • necessary a posteriori


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