Modal epistemology: Our knowledge of necessity and possibility

Philosophy Compass 3 (4):664-684 (2008)
Abstract
I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways in which these authors respond to the problem, including the use of two-dimensional modal semantics. Conventionalism about modality offers a complementary approach to modal epistemology, prompting us to identify our knowledge of modal truths with our mastery of linguistic or conceptual conventions. Finally, I discuss an approach to modal epistemology deriving from David Lewis's work that seeks to identify structural features of the modal space over which necessity and possibility are defined.
Keywords Necessity  Possiblity  Yablo  Chalmers  Lewis  Conventionalism
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    Thomas W. Polger (2009). Identity Theories. Philosophy Compass 4 (5):822-834.
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