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Summary This is a catch-all category for theories of modality which do not fall naturally into the other categories. Notably, it includes dispositional theories of modality.
Key works Fine 1994 reduces modality to essence. Vetter 2010 reduces modality to dispositionality.
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  1. Andrea Borghini & Neil E. Williams (2008). A Dispositional Theory of Possibility. Dialectica 62 (1):21–41.
    – The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world—this one—and that all genuine possibilities are anchored by the dispositions exemplified in this world. This is the case regardless of whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...)
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  2. Phillip Bricker (1988). Review of The Metaphysics of Modality. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 97 (1):127-131.
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  3. John P. Burgess (2010). Review of B. Hale and A. Hoffmann (Eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (10).
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  4. Ross P. Cameron (2010). The Grounds of Necessity. Philosophy Compass 5 (4):348-358.
    Some truths are necessary, others could have been false. Why? What is the source of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent? What's so special about the necessary truths that account for their necessity? In this article, we look at some of the most promising accounts of the grounds of necessity: David Lewis' reduction of necessity to truth at all possible worlds; Kit Fine's reduction of necessity to essence; and accounts of necessity that take the distinction between the necessary (...)
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  5. Hugh S. Chandler (1976). Plantinga and the Contingently Possible. Analysis 36 (2):106 - 109.
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  6. Andrew Chignell (2009). Kant, Modality, and the Most Real Being. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91 (2):157-192.
    Kant's speculative theistic proof rests on a distinction between “logical” and “real” modality that he developed very early in the pre-critical period. The only way to explain facts about real possibility, according to Kant, is to appeal to the properties of a unique, necessary, and “most real” being. Here I reconstruct the proof in its historical context, focusing on the role played by the theory of modality both in motivating the argument (in the pre-critical period) and, ultimately, in undoing it (...)
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  7. Sam Cowling (2011). The Limits of Modality. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):473-495.
    It is commonly assumed that all propositions have modal profiles and therefore bear their truth-values either contingently or necessarily. I argue against this commonly assumed view and in defence of amodalism, according to which certain true propositions are neither necessarily nor contingently true, but only true simpliciter. I consider three arguments against ‘possible-worlds theories’, which hold that modal concepts are to be analysed in terms of possible worlds. Although each of these arguments targets a different version of possible-worlds theory, these (...)
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  8. David A. Denby (2006). In Defence of Magical Ersatzism. In Philosophical Quarterly. 161-74.
    In this paper, I attack David Lewis’s objection to a generic theory of modality he calls “Magical Ersatzism”. His objection takes the form of a dilemma directed at its linchpin, a relation he calls “selection”. This, he argues, must be either an internal or an external relation, but is unintelligible either way. However, his argument against classifying selection as internal is really just a version of the general problem of how we manage to grasp predicates in cases of underdetermination. This (...)
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  9. Kit Fine (2003). The Problem of Possibilia. In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    Are there, in addition to the various actual objects that make up the world, various possible objects? Are there merely possible people, for example, or merely possible electrons, or even merely possible kinds? We certainly talk as if there were such things. Given a particular sperm and egg, I may wonder whether that particular child which would result from their union would have blue eyes. But if the sperm and egg are never in fact brought together, then there is no (...)
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  10. Kit Fine (1994). Essence and Modality. Philosophical Perspectives 8:1-16.
    It is my aim in this paper to show that the contemporary assimilation of essence to modality is fundamentally misguided and that, as a consequence, the corresponding conception of metaphysics should be given up. It is not my view that the modal account fails to capture anything which might reasonably be called a concept of essence. My point, rather, is that the notion of essence which is of central importance to the metaphysics of identity is not to be understood in (...)
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  11. M. Oreste Fiocco (forthcoming). Fatalism and the Metaphysics of Contingency. In Steven M. Cahn & Maureen Eckert (eds.), Freedom and the Self: Essays in the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace. Columbia University Press.
    Contingency is the presence of non-actualized possibility in the world. Fatalism is a view of reality on which there is no contingency. Since it is contingency that permits agency, there has traditionally been much interest in contingency. This interest has long been embarrassed by the contention that simple and plausible assumptions about the world lead to fatalism. I begin with an Aristotelian argument as presented by Richard Taylor. Appreciation of this argument has been stultified by a question pertaining to the (...)
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  12. Sharon Ford (2012). Objects, Discreteness, and Pure Power Theories: George Molnar’s Critique of Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties. [REVIEW] Metaphysica 13 (2):195-215.
    Sydney Shoemaker’s causal theory of properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper, I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the causal theory of properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are to be (...)
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  13. Thomas Gil (2007). Möglichkeiten. Parerga.
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  14. Benedikt Paul Göcke, Martin Pleitz & Hanno von Wulfen (2008). How to Kripke Brandom's Notion of Necessity. In Bernd Prien & David P. Schweikard (eds.), Robert Brandom. Analytic Pragmatist. ontos.
    In this paper we discuss Brandom's definition of necessity, which is part of the incompatibility sematnics he develops in his fifth John Locke Lecture. By comparing incompatibility semantics to standard Kripkean possible worlds semantics for modality, we motivate an alternative definition of necessity in Brandom's own terms. Our investigation of this alternative necessity will show that - contra to Brandom's own results - incompatibility semantics does not necessarily lead to the notion of necessity of the modal logic S5.
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  15. Ross Harrison (1974). On What There Must Be. Clarendon Press.
    This book addresses the importance of space and time, of existence unperceived, of publicity and action, and of natural laws. These are examined in a single argument which extends from Chapter Three to Chapter Seven and in the course of which the essential features of any comprehensible world are either assumed or derived. In Chapter Two, before this argument begins, the book introduces and argues for the methods by which this general argument is developed. In Chapter One, the book attempts (...)
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  16. Jonathan D. Jacobs (2010). A Powers Theory of Modality: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Reject Possible Worlds. Philosophical Studies 151 (2):227-248.
    Possible worlds, concrete or abstract as you like, are irrelevant to the truthmakers for modality—or so I shall argue in this paper. First, I present the neo-Humean picture of modality, and explain why those who accept it deny a common sense view of modality. Second, I present what I take to be the most pressing objection to the neo-Humean account, one that, I argue, applies equally well to any theory that grounds modality in possible worlds. Third, I present an alternative, (...)
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  17. Ronald Burke Jager (1969). Analyticity and Necessity in Moore's Early Work. Journal of the History of Philosophy 7 (4):441-458.
  18. Michael Jubien (2009). Possibility. Oxford University Press.
    Possibility offers a new analysis of the metaphysical concepts of possibility and necessity, one that does not rely on any sort of "possible worlds." The analysis proceeds from an account of the notion of a physical object and from the positing of properties and relations. It is motivated by considerations about how we actually speak of and think of objects. Michael Jubien discusses several closely related topics, including different purported varieties of possible worlds, the doctrine of "essentialism," natural kind terms (...)
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  19. Amy Karofsky (2003). God, Modalities, and Conceptualism. Philosophy and Theology 15 (2):257-271.
    God’s relationship to modalities poses a serious problem for the theist. If God determines modalities, then it seems that he can do anything. If, on the other hand, modalities determine God’s actions, then it seems that he is not genuinely free. Conceptualism offers a solution to this problem by maintaining that modalities are determined by what is conceivable for the intellects of the universe that God has chosen to create. Prior to the creation of intellects, there are no modalities restricting (...)
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  20. Nils Kürbis (forthcoming). Proof-Theoretic Semantics, a Problem with Negation and Prospects for Modality. Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-15.
    This paper discusses proof-theoretic semantics, the project of specifying the meanings of the logical constants in terms of rules of inference governing them. I concentrate on Michael Dummett’s and Dag Prawitz’ philosophical motivations and give precise characterisations of the crucial notions of harmony and stability, placed in the context of proving normalisation results in systems of natural deduction. I point out a problem for defining the meaning of negation in this framework and prospects for an account of the meanings of (...)
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  21. Robert Lane (2007). Peirce's Modal Shift: From Set Theory to Pragmaticism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (4):551-576.
    For many years, Charles Peirce maintained that all senses of the modal terms "possible" and "necessary" can be defined in terms of "states of information." But in 1896, he was motivated by his work in set theory to criticize that account of modality, and in 1905 he characterized that criticism as a return "to the Aristotelian doctrine of a real possibility ... the great step that was needed to render pragmaticism an intelligible doctrine." But since Peirce was a realist about (...)
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  22. David Lewis (1992). Critical Notice. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (2):211 – 224.
  23. Øystein Linnebo (2007). Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers – Kit Fine. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):294–297.
  24. Fraser MacBride (1999). Could Armstrong Have Been a Universal? Mind 108 (431):471-501.
    There cannot be a reductive theory of modality constructed from the concepts of sparse particular and sparse universal. These concepts are suffused with modal notions. I seek to establish this conclusion by tracing out the pattern of modal entanglements in which these concepts are involved. In order to appreciate the structure of these entanglements a distinction must be drawn between the lower-order necessary connections in which particulars and universals apparently figure, and higher-order necesary connections. The former type of connection (...)
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  25. C. B. Martin (2007). The Mind in Nature. OUP Oxford.
    What are the most fundamental features of the world? Do minds stand outside the natural order? Is a unified picture of mental and physical reality possible? The Mind in Nature provides a staunchly realist account of the world as a unified system incorporating both the mental and the physical. C. B. Martin, an original and influential exponent of 'ontologically serious' metaphysics, echoes Locke's dictum that 'all things that exist are only particulars', and argues that properties are powerful qualities. He also (...)
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  26. Ari Maunu (2006). Alethic Statements Are Not Intensional. Teorema 25 (3):53-61.
    According to the standard view, alethic (or modal) statements are intensional in that the Principle of Substitution (PS) fails for them -- e.g. substituting 'nine' in "Necessarily, nine is composite" with the co-referring 'the number of planets' turns this statement from true to false. It is argued in the paper that we could avoid ascribing intensionality to alethic statements altogether by separating between singular and functional uses of definite descriptions: on the singular use the description given above amounts to 'the (...)
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  27. Ari Maunu (1999). Worldlessness, Determinism and Free Will. Dissertation, University of Turku (Finland)
    I have three main objectives in this essay. First, in chapter 2, I shall put forward and justify what I call worldlessness, by which I mean the following: All truths (as well as falsehoods) are wholly independent of any circumstances, not only time and place but also possible worlds. It follows from this view that whatever is actually true must be taken as true with respect to every possible world, which means that all truths are (in a sense) necessary. However, (...)
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  28. Christopher Menzel & Edward N. Zalta (2013). The Fundamental Theorem of World Theory. Journal of Philosophical Logic (2-3):1-31.
    The fundamental principle of the theory of possible worlds is that a proposition p is possible if and only if there is a possible world at which p is true. In this paper we present a valid derivation of this principle from a more general theory in which possible worlds are defined rather than taken as primitive. The general theory uses a primitive modality and axiomatizes abstract objects, properties, and propositions. We then show that this general theory has very small (...)
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  29. Fabrizio Mondadori (1973). Reference, Essentialism, and Modality in Leibniz's Metaphysics. Studia Leibnitiana 5 (1):74-101.
  30. Bradley Monton & Bas C. Van Fraassen (2003). Constructive Empiricism and Modal Nominalism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (3):405 - 422.
    James Ladyman has argued that constructive empiricism entails modal realism, and that this renders constructive empiricism untenable. We maintain that constructive empiricism is compatible with modal nominalism. Although the central term 'observable' has been analyzed in terms of counterfactuals, and in general counterfactuals do not have objective truth conditions, the property of being observable is not a modal property, and hence there are objective, non-modal facts about what is observable. Both modal nominalism and constructive empiricism require clarification in the face (...)
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  31. Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum (2011). Dispositional Modality. In C. F. Gethmann (ed.), Lebenswelt und Wissenschaft, Deutsches Jahrbuch Philosophie 2. Meiner Verlag.
    There has been much discussion of powers or real dispositions in the past decade, but there remains an issue that has been inadequately treated. This concerns the precise modal value that comes with dispositionality. We contend in this paper that dispositionality involves a non-alethic, sui generis, irreducible modality. Dispositions only tend towards their manifestations; they do not necessitate them. Tendency is, of course, a dispositional term itself, so this last statement offers little by way of illumination. But given our thesis (...)
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  32. Adam Murray & Jessica M. Wilson (2012). Relativized Metaphysical Modality. In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. 189.
    It is commonly supposed that metaphysical modal claims are to be evaluated with respect to a single domain of possible worlds: a claim is metaphysically necessary just in case it is true in every possible world, and metaphysically possible just in case it is true in some possible world. We argue that the standard understanding is incorrect; rather, whether a given claim is metaphysically necessary or possible is relative to which world is indicatively actual. We motivate our view by attention (...)
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  33. Bence Nanay (2012). Function Attribution Depends on the Explanatory Context: A Reply to Neander and Rosenberg's Reply to Nanay. Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):623-627.
    In ‘A modal theory of function’, I gave an argument against all existing theories of function and outlined a new theory. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg argue against both my negative and my positive claim. My aim here is not merely to defend my account from their objections, but to (a) very briefly point out that the new account of etiological function they propose in response to my criticism cannot avoid the circularity worry either and, more importantly, to (b) highlight, (...)
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  34. Bence Nanay (2011). Function, Modality, Mental Content. Journal of Mind and Behavior 32:84-87.
    I clarify some of the details of the modal theory of function I outlined in Nanay (2010): (a) I explicate what it means that the function of a token biological trait is fixed by modal facts; (b) I address an objection to my trait type individuation argument against etiological function and (c) I examine the consequences of replacing the etiological theory of function with a modal theory for the prospects of using the concept of biological function to explain mental content.
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  35. Daniel Nolan, Comments on John Divers's “on the Significance of the Question of the Function of Modal Judgment”.
    The question of the function of modal judgement is an interesting philosophical issue, and John Divers's paper (this volume) has persuaded me that it has not received the attention it deserves. I think it is an important and interesting question even apart from any more ambitious claims that are made about its role in settling other issues about modality. Even if we became convinced that the story about function put no constraints whatsoever, epistemologically or metaphysically, on a theory of modality, (...)
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  36. Daniel Nolan (2007). Review: Modality. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (461):187-190.
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  37. T. Parent (2008). Quine and Logical Truth. Erkenntnis 68 (1):103 - 112.
    It is a consequence of Quine’s confirmation holism that the logical laws are in principle revisable. Some have worried this is at odds with another dictum in Quine, viz., that any translation which construes speakers as systematically illogical is ipso facto inadequate. In this paper, I try to formulate exactly what the problem is here, and offer a solution to it by (1) disambiguating the term ‘logic,’ and (2) appealing to a Quinean understanding of ‘necessity.’ The result is that the (...)
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  38. Josh Parsons, Review of Possible Worlds. [REVIEW]
    This book is a survey, fortified by original material, of metaphysical theories of modality set in terms of possible worlds. Those theories include what Divers calls “genuine realism”, or “GR” — this is David Lewis’s “genuine modal realism” — and what Divers calls “actualist realism”, or “AR” — this seems to be the same as what Lewis called “ersatz modal realism”, which has also become widely know as “ersatzism”. Two important kinds of theory are not included: those that treat modality (...)
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  39. Alvin Plantinga (2003). Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality. Oxford University Press.
    Perhaps no one has done more in the last 30 years to advance thinking in the metaphysics of modality than has Alvin Plantinga. Collected here are some of his most important essays on this influential subject. Dating back from the late 1960's to the present, they chronicle the development of Plantinga's thoughts about some of the most fundamental issues in metaphysics: what is the nature of abstract objects like possible worlds, properties, propositions, and such phenomena? Are there possible but non-actual (...)
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  40. Bernd Prien & David P. Schweikard (eds.) (2008). Robert Brandom. Analytic Pragmatist. ontos.
    This volume contains his programmatic essay 'Towards an Analytic Pragmatism', in which Brandom shows how analytic philosophy can broaden its perspective so as ...
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  41. Alexander R. Pruss (2002). The Actual and the Possible. In Richard M. Gale (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics. Blackwell Publishers. 317--33.
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  42. Nicholas Rescher (1975). A Theory of Possibility: A Constructivistic and Conceptualistic Account of Possible Individuals and Possible Worlds. University of Pittsburgh Press.
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  43. David H. Sanford (1976). What Could Have Happened. Noûs 10 (September):313-326.
    Morton White proposes two patterns of expansion for sentences of the form "Possible (x is Q)" in "On What Could Have Happened" (Philosophical Review, 1968). His attempts in "Ands and Cans" (Mind, 1974) and in "Positive Freedom, Negative Freedom, and Possibility" (Journal of Philosophy, 1973) to simplify these two patterns and his argument for abandoning the first pattern are mistaken. Although I question a number of White's claims, my purpose is to improve his treatment of possibility rather than to refute (...)
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  44. Susan Schneider (2001). Alien Individuals, Alien Universals, and Armstrong's Combinatorial Theory of Possibility. Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (4):575-593.
    Armstrong's combinatorialism, in his own words, is the following project: "My central metaphysical hypothesis is that all there is is the world of space and time. It is this world which is to supply the actual elements for the totality of combinations. So what is proposed is a Naturalistic form of a combinatorial theory."2 Armstrong calls his central hypothesis "Naturalism." He intends his well−known theory of universals to satisfy this thesis. He now attempts to give a naturalistic theory of modality.
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  45. Theodore Sider (2001). The Worlds of Possibility. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 110 (1):88-91.
    Possible worlds present a formidable challenge for the lover of desert landscapes. One cannot ignore their usefulness; they provide, as David Lewis puts it, “a philosophers’ paradise”.1 But to enter paradise possibilia must be fit into a believable ontology. Some follow Lewis and accept worlds at face value, but most prefer some other choice from the current menu. Part of Chihara’s book is a critical discussion of some of these menu options: Lewis’s modal realism, Alvin Plantinga’s abstract modal realism, (...)
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  46. Ori Simchen (2013). The Barcan Formula in Metaphysics. Theoria 78 (3):375-392.
    The Barcan formula (BF) is commonly paraphrased as the schematic conditional that if it is possible that there be a phi then something or other is possibly a phi. It is validated by the most straightforward systems of quantified modal logic. It is also widely considered to pose a threat to the commonsensical metaphysical view that there are no non-actual (or ‘merely possible’) things. I show how BF can be cleared of such a charge by construing it as a bridge (...)
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  47. Ori Simchen (2006). Actualist Essentialism and General Possibilities. Journal of Philosophy 103 (1):5-26.
    Particular possibilities -- such as that this particular chair occupy the only vacant corner of my office -- are commonly supposed to depend on what actual things there are and what they are like, whereas general possibilities -- such as that some chair or other occupy some vacant corner or other of some office or other -- are commonly supposed not to be so dependent. I articulate a different conception whereby general possibilities are no less determined by what actual things (...)
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  48. Jason Turner (2010). Possibility, by MIchael Jubien. [REVIEW] Analysis 70 (1):184-186.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  49. Barbara Vetter (2013). 'Can' Without Possible Worlds: Semantics for Anti-Humeans. Philosophers' Imprint 13 (16).
    Metaphysicians of modality are increasingly critical of possible-worlds talk, and increasingly happy to accept irreducibly modal properties – and in particular, irreducible dispositions – in nature. The aim of this paper is to provide the beginnings of a modal semantics which uses, instead of possible-worlds talk, the resources of such an 'anti-Humean' metaphysics. One central challenge to an anti-Humean view is the context-sensitivity of modal language. I show how that challenge can be met and a systematic modal semantics provided, given (...)
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  50. Barbara Vetter (2011). Recent Work: Modality Without Possible Worlds. Analysis 71 (4):742-754.
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