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Summary Modal Empiricism is the attempt to explain how we have knowledge of necessity and possibility through an empiricist program. The key issues are: how is empiricism to be defined? Does empiricism provide enough resources for one to explain all the kinds of modal statements that are deemed true? What is the key mechanism for arriving at modal knowledge on the empiricist program?
Introductions A key introduction is Vaidya 2007
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  1. Nora Berenstain (2014). Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):631-647.
    Contingentism, generally contrasted with law necessitarianism, is the view that the laws of nature are contingent. It is often coupled with the claim that their contingency is knowable a priori. This paper considers Bird's [2001, 2002, 2005, 2007] arguments for the thesis that, necessarily, salt dissolves in water; and it defends his view against Beebee's [2001] and Psillos's [2002] contingentist objections. A new contingentist objection is offered and several reasons for scepticism about its success are raised. It is concluded that (...)
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  2. Bob Fischer (2016). A Theory-Based Epistemology of Modality. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):228-247.
    We have some justified beliefs about modal matters. A modal epistemology should explain what’s involved in our having that justification. Given that we’re realists about modality, how should we expect that explanation to go? In the first part of this essay, I suggest an answer to this question based on an analogy with games. Then, I outline a modal epistemology that fits with that answer. According to a theory-based epistemology of modality, you justifiably believe that p if you justifiably believe (...)
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  3. Bob Fischer (2016). Hale on the Architecture of Modal Knowledge. Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):76-89.
    There are many modal epistemologies available to us. Which should we endorse? According to Bob Hale, we can start to answer this question by examining the architecture of modal knowledge. That is, we can try to decide between the following claims: knowing that p is possible is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no conflicting necessities—a necessity-based approach—and knowing that p is necessary is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no (...)
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  4. Bob Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.) (forthcoming). Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Synthese Library.
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  5. Robert William Fischer (2015). Theory Selection in Modal Epistemology. American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (3):289-304.
    Accounts of modal knowledge are many and varied. How should we choose between them? I propose that we employ inference to the best explanation, and I suggest that there are three desiderata that we should use to rank hypotheses: conservatism, simplicity, and the ability to handle disagreement. After examining these desiderata, I contend that they can’t be used to justify belief in the modal epistemology that fares best, but that they can justify our accepting it in an epistemically significant sense. (...)
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  6. Robert William Fischer (2013). Lines of Thought: Central Concepts in Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology (3):1-5.
    (2014). Lines of thought: Central concepts in cognitive psychology. Philosophical Psychology: Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 445-449. doi: 10.1080/09515089.2012.732338.
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  7. Robert William Fischer (2012). Modal Knowledge, in Theory. Southwest Philosophy Review 28 (1):227-235.
    Some philosophers think that a person can justifi ably believe that p is possible even though she has no theory according to which p is possible. They think, for example, that she can justifiably believe that there could be naturally purple elephants even though she lacks (inter alia) a theory about the factors germane to elephant pigmentation. There is a certain optimism about this view: it seems to assume that people are fairly good at ferreting out problems with proposed modal (...)
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  8. Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (2016). The Modal-Knowno Problem. Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (1):225-232.
  9. Rebecca Hanrahan (2005). Epistemology and Possibility. Dialogue 44 (4):627-652.
    ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. To (...)
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  10. Rebecca Roman Hanrahan (2009). Consciousness and Modal Empiricism. Philosophia 37 (2):281-306.
    David Chalmers supports his contention that there is a possible world populated by our zombie twins by arguing for the assumption that conceivability entails possibility. But, I argue, the modal epistemology he sets forth, ‘modal rationalism,’ ignores the problem of incompleteness and relies on an idealized notion of conceivability. As a consequence, this epistemology can’t justify our quotidian judgments of possibility, let alone those judgments that concern the mind/body connection. Working from the analogy that the imagination is to the possible (...)
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  11. C. S. Jenkins (2010). Concepts, Experience and Modal Knowledge1. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):255-279.
    forthcoming in R. Cameron, B. Hale and A. Hoffmann (ed.s), The Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics of Modality, Oxford University Press. Presents a concept-grounding account of modal knowledge.
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  12. Thomas Kroedel (forthcoming). Modal Knowledge, Evolution, and Counterfactuals. In Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Dordrecht
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  13. Felipe Leon (forthcoming). From Modal Skepticism to Modal Empiricism. In Robert William Fischer Felipe Leon (ed.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism.
  14. David K. Lewis (1986/2001). On the Plurality of Worlds. Blackwell Publishers.
    This book is a defense of modal realism; the thesis that our world is but one of a plurality of worlds, and that the individuals that inhabit our world are only ...
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  15. Christopher Peacocke (2002). Principles for Possibilia. Noûs 36 (3):486–508.
    It seems to be an obvious truth that There could be something that doesn't actually exist. That is, it seems to be obiously true that ◊∃×). It is sufficient for the truth of that there could be more people, or trees, or cars, than there actually are. It is also sufficient for the truth of that there could be some pepole, or trees, or cars that are distinct from all those that actually exist. Do and suchlike statements involve a commitment (...)
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  16. Christopher Peacocke (2002). The Principle-Based Account of Modality: Elucidations and Resources. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (3):663–679.
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  17. James F. Ross (2008). Thought and World: The Hidden Necessities. University of Notre Dame Press.
    Introduction: Structural realism -- Necessities : earned truth and made truth -- Real impossibility -- What might have been -- Truth -- Perception and abstraction -- Emergent consciousness and irreducible understanding -- Real natures : software everywhere -- Going wrong with the master of falsity.
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  18. Alan Sidelle (1989). Necessity, Essence, and Individuation: A Defense of Conventionalism. Cornell University Press.
  19. Margot Strohminger (2015). Perceptual Knowledge of Nonactual Possibilities. Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):363-75.
    It is widely assumed that sense perception cannot deliver knowledge of nonactual (metaphysical) possibilities. We are not supposed to be able to know that a proposition p is necessary or that p is possible (if p is false) by sense perception. This paper aims to establish that the role of sense perception is not so limited. It argues that we can know lots of modal facts by perception. While the most straightforward examples concern possibility and contingency, others concern necessity and (...)
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  20. Tuomas E. Tahko (forthcoming). Empirically-Informed Modal Rationalism. In Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Synthese Library
    In this chapter, it is suggested that our epistemic access to metaphysical modality generally involves rationalist, a priori elements. However, these a priori elements are much more subtle than ‘traditional’ modal rationalism assumes. In fact, some might even question the ‘apriority’ of these elements, but I should stress that I consider a priori and a posteriori elements especially in our modal inquiry to be so deeply intertwined that it is not easy to tell them apart. Supposed metaphysically necessary identity statements (...)
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