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Modality

Edited by Tuomas E. Tahko (University of Helsinki)
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Summary In philosophical contexts, the study of modality is primarily the study of necessity and possibility. Sometimes this is expressed by talking about possible worlds, but this is to a certain extent just a façon de parler. In metaphysics, we are interested in the nature of the modal space -- are the so called possible worlds merely conventional or are they concrete, as modal realism would have it? Whatever the nature of the modal space, questions remain about the status of the different varieties of modality, and our epistemic access to modality. One central topic in recent literature concerns the ground of modal truths, that is, in virtue of what is something necessary? This is also linked to essentialism and de re modality: can we explain transworld identity in terms of essential properties, or perhaps even ground modal truths to essentialist truths?
Key works Some of the most important discussion starters regarding modality include Armstrong 1989, Fine 1994, Forbes 1985, Hale 1996, Kripke 1980, Lewis 1986, Lewis 1973, and Plantinga 1978. Some significant early work (e.g. by Adams, Chisholm, Hintikka, Kripke, Kaplan, Lewis, Plantinga, Quine, Stalnaker) on modality has been collected in volumes such as Linsky 1971, Loux 1979, and Tooley 1999. Many classic papers are also included in Plantinga 2002, Stalnaker 2003, and Fine 2005. The contemporary literature is enormous, some important contributions are Lowe 1998, Soames 2002, Williamson 2007, and Jubien 2009. For modal epistemology in particular, Gendler & Hawthorne 2002 is an excellent resource.
Introductions Chihara 1998; Divers 2002; Girle 2003; Hale & Hoffmann 2009; Melia 2003; Vaidya 2007.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Modality
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  1. Gary Bedell (1977). Necessary Truths About the World. New Scholasticism 51 (4):537-545.
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  2. Robert C. Beissel (1992). The Modality of Being. The Thomist 56:49-69.
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  3. Nora Berenstain (2016). The Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality. Synthese:1-17.
    This paper argues that scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between the mathematical entities that are indispensible to scientific explanation and the modal structure of the empirical phenomena those entities explain. The argument presupposes that scientific realism commits us to the indispensability argument. The viewpresented here is that the indispensability of mathematics commits us not only to the existence of mathematical structures and entities but to a metaphysical determination relation between those entities and the modal structure of (...)
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  4. Chen Bo (2011). Proper Names, Contingency A Priori and Necessity A Posteriori. History and Philosophy of Logic 32 (2):119 - 138.
    After a brief review of the notions of necessity and a priority, this paper scrutinizes Kripke's arguments for supposedly contingent a priori propositions and necessary a posteriori propositions involving proper names, and reaches a negative conclusion, i.e. there are no such propositions, or at least the propositions Kripke gives as examples are not such propositions. All of us, including Kripke himself, still have to face the old question raised by Hume, i.e. how can we justify the necessity and universality of (...)
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  5. David Bostock (1977). Kripke on Identity and Necessity. Philosophical Quarterly 27 (109):313-324.
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  6. Richard Brandt, Henry W. Johnstone, Manley Thompson & Gustav Bergmann (1952). Comments on Mr. Raab's Theses. Review of Metaphysics 6 (1):124-129.
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  7. Aldo Bressan (1972). Replies to van Fraassen's Comments: Bressan and Suppes on Modality. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1972:331 - 334.
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  8. Gordon G. Brittan Jr (ed.) (1991). Causality, Method and Modality. Kluwer.
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  9. K. Britton (1936). Possibility. [REVIEW] Mind 45:530.
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  10. Jerome S. Bruner (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds.
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  11. Tommaso Vio Cajetaden (1964). Commentary on Being and Essence. Milwaukee, Marquette University Press.
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  12. Richard Campbell (1985). Truth in a Contingent World. Philosophical Papers 14 (1):20-35.
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  13. Quassim Cassam (1986). Necessity and Externality. Mind 95 (380):446-464.
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  14. Marc Champagne (2015). A Less Simplistic Metaphysics: Peirce’s Layered Theory of Meaning as a Layered Theory of Being. Sign Systems Studies 43 (4):523–552.
    This article builds on C. S. Peirce’s suggestive blueprint for an inclusive outlook that grants reality to his three categories. Moving away from the usual focus on (contentious) cosmological forces, I use a modal principle to partition various ontological layers: regular sign-action (like coded language) subsumes actual sign-action (like here-and-now events) which in turn subsumes possible sign-action (like qualities related to whatever would be similar to them). Once we realize that the triadic sign’s components are each answerable to this asymmetric (...)
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  15. Romane Clark (1965). On What is Naturally Necessary. Journal of Philosophy 62 (21):613-625.
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  16. Richard A. Cohen (1987). Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence. International Studies in Philosophy 19 (1):90-91.
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  17. Roy J. Cox (1960). Professor Hanson Imagining the Impossible. Analysis 20 (4):87 - 93.
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  18. Patrick Doherty (1996). Partiality, Modality, and Nonmonotonicity.
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  19. Jude P. Dougherty (2011). Theism and Ultimate Explanation. Review of Metaphysics 64 (3):649-651.
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  20. Stephen Downes, Models and Modality. Eidos: The Canadian Graduate Journal of Philosophy 6.
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  21. John Timlin Dunlap (1972). Models and Modality. Dissertation, University of Georgia
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  22. The Editors (1979). The Possibility of All Possibilities. Dialectics and Humanism 6 (4):105-109.
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  23. Paul Edwards (1949). Necessary Propositions and the Future. Journal of Philosophy 46 (6):155-157.
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  24. Matti Eklund (2007). Review of Fraser MacBride (Ed.), Identity and Modality. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (3).
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  25. Crawford Elder (2007). "Realism and the Problem of" Infimae Species". American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2):111 - 127.
    Modal conventionalism is the view that two crucial forms of sameness are mind-dependent. There is no phenomenon of sameness in kind, on this view, except in virtue of our conventions for individuating nature’s kinds; there is no phenomenon of numerical sameness across time, for an individual member of some natural kind, except in virtue of our conventions for individuating such members.1 Modal conventionalism has its realist opponents. These opponents have argued, following Kripke’s lead more than thirty years ago (Kripke 1972), (...)
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  26. Charles Evans (1972). Salvaging Necessary Truth. Journal of Critical Analysis 4 (1):24-33.
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  27. Percival L. Everett (2005). A Modality. Symploke 12 (1):152-154.
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  28. Arthur E. Falk (1984). Selfhood, Modality, and Philosophies of Mind. Metaphilosophy 15 (2):100–111.
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  29. Hartry Field (1991). Metalogic and Modality. Philosophical Studies 62 (1):1 - 22.
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  30. Milton Fisk (1974). Necessity As a Presupposition of Inductive Support. Idealistic Studies 4 (1):64-78.
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  31. Graeme Forbes (1992). Melia on Modalism. Philosophical Studies 68 (1):57 - 63.
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  32. Bas C. Van Fraassen (1972). Bressan and Suppes on Modality. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1972:323 - 330.
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  33. Kenneth T. Gallagher (1994). Possibility, Necessity, and Existence. International Philosophical Quarterly 34 (3):384-385.
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  34. Don Garrett (1995). Modalities. Review of Metaphysics 48 (3):668-669.
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  35. J. Garson (1972). Two New Interpretations of Modality. Logique Et Analyse 15:443-459.
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  36. Christopher S. Gifford (2013). Against the Modal Argument. Erkenntnis 78 (3):627-646.
    The relationship between alethic modality and indeterminacy is yet to be clarified. A modal argument—an argument that appeals to alethic modality—against vague objects given by Joseph Moore offers a potential clarification of the relationship; it is proposed that there are cases for which the following holds: if it is indeterminate whether A = B then it is possible that it is determinate that A = B. However, the argument faces three problems. The problems remove the argument’s threat against vague objects (...)
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  37. M. Glouberman (1991). Intermediate Possibility and Actuality-Cartesian Error Theory. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 65 (1):63-82.
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  38. Robert Goldblatt (1993). Mathematics of Modality.
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  39. Jeremy Goodman (2016). Williamson on Necessitism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):613-639.
    I critically discuss some of the main arguments of Modal Logic as Metaphysics, present a different way of thinking about the issues raised by those arguments, and briefly discuss some broader issues about the role of higher-order logic in metaphysics.
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  40. Sven Ove Hansson (2006). The Modal Status of Philosophy. Theoria 72 (3):173-176.
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  41. Gordon B. Harding & Gary R. Rundle (1969). Long-Term Retention of Modality- and Nonmodality-Specific Habituation of the GSR. Journal of Experimental Psychology 82 (2):390.
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  42. Mark Heller (2007). 3. Worlds, Pluriverses, and Minds. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 3:77.
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  43. Meir Hemmo (1996). Possible Worlds in the Modal Interpretation. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):337.
    An outline for a modal interpretation in terms of possible worlds is presented. The so-called Schmidt histories are taken to correspond to the physically possible worlds. The decoherence function defined in the histories formulation of quantum theory is taken to prescribe a non-classical probability measure over the set of the possible worlds. This is shown to yield dynamics in the form of transition probabilities for occurrent events in each world. The role of the consistency condition is discussed.
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  44. Henry Hiż (1961). Modalities and Extended Systems. Journal of Philosophy 58 (23):723-731.
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  45. Albert Hofstadter (1951). Explanation and Necessity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 11 (3):339-347.
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  46. I. L. Humberstone (1981). From Worlds to Possibilities. Journal of Philosophical Logic 10 (3):313 - 339.
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  47. Stephen Isard & Christopher Longuet-Higgins (1973). Modal Tic-Tac-Toe. In Radu J. Bogdan & Ilkka Niiniluoto (eds.), Logic, Language, and Probability. Boston,D. Reidel Pub. Co. 189--195.
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  48. Hidé Ishiguro & John Skorupski (1980). Possibility. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 54 (1):73 - 104.
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  49. H. M. J. (1977). Meaning and Modality. Review of Metaphysics 31 (2):323-324.
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  50. Michael Jubien (2007). 4. Analyzing Modality. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 3:99.
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