This squib presents two puzzles related to an ambiguity found in for-infinitival relative clauses (FIRs). FIRs invariably receive a modal interpretation even in the absence of any overt modal verb. The modal interpretation seems to come in two distinct types, which can be paraphrased by finite relative clauses employing the modal auxiliaries should and could. The two puzzles presented here arise because the availability of the two readings is constrained by factors that are not otherwise known to affect (...) the interpretation of a relative clause. Specifically, we show, first, that “strong” determiners require the FIR to be interpreted as a SHOULD-relative while “weak” determiners allow both interpretations (the Determiner-Modal Generalization). Secondly, we observe that the COULD-interpretation requires a raising (internally headed) structure for the FIR, while the SHOULD-interpretation is compatible with either a raising or a more standard matching (externally headed) structure (the Raising/Matching Generalization). (shrink)
Davies argues that the ontology of artworks as performances offers a principled way of explaining work-relativity of modality. Object oriented contextualist ontologies of art (Levinson) cannot adequately address the problem of work-relativity of modal properties because they understand looseness in what counts as the same context as a view that slight differences in the work-constitutive features of provenance are work-relative. I argue that it is more in the spirit of contextualism to understand looseness as context-dependent. This points to (...) the general problem—the context of appreciation is not robust enough to ground modal intuitions about objective entities. In general, when epistemology dictates ontology there is always a threat of anti-realism, scepticism and relativism. Davies also appeals to the modality principle—an entity’s essential properties are all and only its constitutive properties. Davies understands essentiality in a traditional way: a property P is an essential property of an object o iff o could not exist and lack P. Kit Fine has recently made a convincing case for the view that the notion of essence is not to be understood in modal terms. I explore some of the implications of this view for Davies’ modal argument for the performance theory. (shrink)
I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with ‘can’-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to the (...) connection between the truth conditions of sentences involving ‘can’ and ‘chance’, and argue for the context sensitivity of each term. Awareness of this context sensitivity has consequences for the evaluation of particular philosophical arguments for (in)compatibilism when they are presented in particular contexts. (shrink)
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 to discussions in Salmon 1989 and Fine 2005, in which various data are taken to support rejecting the transitivity of accessibility (Salmon) and modal monism (Fine); we argue that relativized metaphysical modality can accommodate these data compatible with both standard modal logic(s) and modal monism. Noting an analogy with two-dimensional semantics, we argue that metaphysical modality has a complex structure, reflecting what is counterfactually possible, relative to each indicatively actual world. In arguing for the need for relativization, we are broadly on the same side as Crossley and Humberstone (1977) and Davies and Humberstone (1979); our contribution here is, first, to offer distinctively metaphysical reasons for relativization, and second, to show that relativization can be incorporated in ways minimally departing from standard modal logic(s). (shrink)
In recent work on contextdependency, it has been argued that certain types of sentences give rise to a notion of relative truth. In particular, sentences containing predicates of personal taste and moral or aesthetic evaluation as well as epistemic modals are held to express a proposition (relative to a context of use) which is true or false not only relative to a world of evaluation, but other parameters as well, such as standards of taste or knowledge or (...) an agent. Thus, a sentence like chocolate tastes good would express a proposition p that is true or false not only at a world of evaluation, but relative to the additional parameter as well, such as a parameter of taste or an agent. I will argue that the sentences that apparently give rise to relative truth should be understood by relating them in a certain way to the first person. More precisely, such sentences express what I will call firstpersonbased genericity, a form of generalization that is based on or directed toward an essential firstperson application of the predicate. The account differs from standard relative truth account in crucial respects: it is not the truth of the proposition expressed that is relative to the first person; the proposition expressed by a sentence with a predicate of taste rather has absolute truth conditions. Instead it is the propositional content itself that requires a firstpersonal cognitive access whenever it is entertained. This account, I will argue, avoids a range of problems that standard relative truth theories of the sentences in question face and explains a number of further peculiarities that such sentences display. (shrink)
Here I propose a coherent way of preserving the identity of material objects with the matter that constitutes them. The presentation is formal, and intended for RSL. An informal presentation is in preliminary draft! -/- Relative-sameness relations—such as being the same person as—are like David Lewis's "counterpart" relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold between objects that aren't identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in (...) different contexts. They differ from counterpart relations, however, in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis's Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005). (shrink)
A dynamic semantics for epistemically modalized sentences is an attractive alternative to the orthodox view that our best theory of meaning ascribes to such sentences truth-conditions relative to what is known. This essay demonstrates that a dynamic theory about might and must offers elegant explanations of a range of puzzling observations about epistemic modals. The first part of the story offers a unifying treatment of disputes about epistemic modality and disputes about matters of fact while at the same (...) time avoiding the complexities of alternative theories. The second part of the story extends the basic framework to cover some complicated data about retraction and the interaction between epistemic modality and tense. A comparison between the suggestion made in this essay and current versions of the orthodoxy is provided. (shrink)
I want to discuss a puzzle about the semantics of epistemic modals, like “It might be the case that” as it occurs in “It might be the case that Goldbach’s conjecture is false.”1 I’ll argue that the puzzle cannot be adequately explained on standard accounts of the semantics of epistemic modals, and that a proper solution requires relativizing utterance truth to a context of assessment, a semantic device whose utility and coherence I have defended elsewhere for future contingents (MacFarlane..
This work is divided in two papers (Part I and Part II). In Part I, we study a class of polymodal logics (herein called the class of "Rare-logics") for which the set of terms indexing the modal operators are hierarchized in two levels: the set of Boolean terms and the set of terms built upon the set of Boolean terms. By investigating different algebraic properties satisfied by the models of the Rare-logics, reductions for decidability are established by faithfully translating the (...) Rare-logics into more standard modal logics. The main idea of the translation consists in eliminating the Boolean terms by taking advantage of the components construction and in using various properties of the classes of semilattices involved in the semantics. The novelty of our approach allows us to prove new decidability results (presented in Part II), in particular for information logics derived from rough set theory and we open new perspectives to define proof systems for such logics (presented also in Part II). (shrink)
This work is divided in two papers (Part I and Part II). In Part I, we introduced the class of Rare-logics for which the set of terms indexing the modal operators are hierarchized in two levels: the set of Boolean terms and the set of terms built upon the set of Boolean terms. By investigating different algebraic properties satisfied by the models of the Rare-logics, reductions for decidability were established by faithfully translating the Rare-logics into more standard modal logics (some (...) of them contain the universal modal operator).In Part II, we push forward the results from Part I. For Rare-logics with nominals (present at the level of formulae and at the level of modal expressions), we show that the constructions from Part I can be extended although it is technically more involved. We also characterize a class of standard modal logics for which the universal modal operator can be eliminated as far as satifiability is concerned. Although the previous results have a semantic flavour, we are also able to define proof systems for Rare-logics from existing proof systems for the corresponding standard modal logics. Last, but not least, decidability results for Rare-logics are established uniformly, in particular for information logics derived from rough set theory. (shrink)
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 on the irreducible nature of dispositionality, we maintain that it cannot be explicated correctly in non-dispositional terms. Nevertheless, we all have experience of dispositionality at work, through the exercise or our own powers and the action of other powers upon us. The notion of dispositionality that we acquire is one that involves a modality stronger than pure contingency but weaker than necessity. The recognition of this distinct modal value for dispositionality is one of the biggest oversights in the growing literature in the area. Yet it is there for all to see in even the most mundane example. (shrink)
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 as a source of knowledge of God's existence (in the critical period). Along the way I examine Kant's version of the now-popular “actualist” thesis that facts about what is possible must be explained by facts about what is actual. I conclude by discussing why the critical Kant claims both that there are rational grounds for accepting the conclusion of his theistic proof, and that such acceptance can not count as knowledge. This is important, I argue, because the same considerations ultimately motivate his prohibition on knowledge of things-in-themselves generally. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper I consider Saul Kripke’s famous Humphrey objection to David Lewis’s views on de re modality and argue that responses to this objection currently on the market fail to mitigate its force in any significant way.
It follows from Humean principles of plenitude, I argue, that island universes are possible: physical reality might have 'absolutely isolated' parts. This makes trouble for Lewis's modal realism; but the realist has a way out. First, accept absolute actuality, which is defensible, I argue, on independent grounds. Second, revise the standard analysis of modality: modal operators are 'plural', not 'individual', quantifiers over possible worlds. This solves the problem of island universes and confers three additional benefits: an 'unqualified' principle of (...) compossibility can be accepted; the possibility of nothing can be accommodated; and the identity of indiscernible worlds can be decisively refuted. (shrink)
One type of deflationism about metaphysical modality suggests that it can be analysed strictly in terms of linguistic or conceptual content and that there is nothing particularly metaphysical about modality. Scott Soames is explicitly opposed to this trend. However, a detailed study of Soames’s own account of modality reveals that it has striking similarities with the deflationary account. In this paper I will compare Soames’s account of a posteriori necessities concerning natural kinds with the deflationary one, specifically (...) Alan Sidelle’s account, and suggest that Soames’s account is vulnerable to the deflatonist’s critique. Furthermore, I conjecture that both the deflationary account and Soames’s account fail to fully explicate the metaphysical content of a posteriori necessities. Although I will focus on Soames, my argument may have more general implications towards the prospects of providing a meaning-based account of metaphysical modality. (shrink)
The paper provides an explanation of our knowledge of metaphysical modality, or modal knowledge, from our ability to evaluate counterfactual conditionals. The latter ability lends itself to an evolutionary explanation since it enables us to learn from mistakes. Different logical principles linking counterfactuals to metaphysical modality can be employed to extend this explanation to the epistemology of modality. While the epistemological use of some of these principles is either philosophically implausible or empirically inadequate, the equivalence of ‘Necessarily (...) p’ with ‘For all q, if q were the case, p would be the case’ is a suitable starting-point for an explanation of modal knowledge. (shrink)
Among recent objections to Pascal’s Wager, two are especially compelling. The first is that decision theory, and specifically the requirement of maximizing expected utility, is incompatible with infinite utility values. The second is that even if infinite utility values are admitted, the argument of the Wager is invalid provided that we allow mixed strategies. Furthermore, Hájek (Philosophical Review 112, 2003) has shown that reformulations of Pascal’s Wager that address these criticisms inevitably lead to arguments that are philosophically unsatisfying and historically (...) unfaithful. Both the objections and Hájek’s philosophical worries disappear, however, if we represent our preferences using relative utilities (generalized utility ratios) rather than a one-place utility function. Relative utilities provide a conservative way to make sense of infinite value that preserves the familiar equation of rationality with the maximization of expected utility. They also provide a means of investigating a broader class of problems related to the Wager. (shrink)
The eleven new papers in this volume address fundamental and interrelated philosophical issues concerning modality and identity, issues that were pivotal to the development of analytic philosophy in the twentieth century, and remain a key focus of debate in the twenty-first. Identity and Modality brings together leading researchers in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of mathematics.
The philosophy of modality investigates necessity and possibility, and related notions--are they objective features of mind-independent reality? If so, are they irreducible, or can modal facts be explained in other terms? This volume presents new work on modality by established leaders in the field and by up-and-coming philosophers. Between them, the papers address fundamental questions concerning realism and anti-realism about modality, the nature and basis of facts about what is possible and what is necessary, the nature of (...) modal knowledge, modal logic and its relations to necessary existence and to counterfactual reasoning. The general introduction locates the individual contributions in the wider context of the contemporary discussion of the metaphysics and epistemology of modality. (shrink)
According to Interest-Relative Invariantism, whether an agent knows that p, or possesses other sorts of epistemic properties or relations, is in part determined by the practical costs of being wrong about p. Recent studies in experimental philosophy have tested the claims of IRI. After critically discussing prior studies, we present the results of our own experiments that provide strong support for IRI. We discuss our results in light of complementary findings by other theorists, and address the challenge posed by (...) a leading intellectualist alternative to our view. (shrink)
Attention to the conversational role of alethic terms seems to dominate, and even sometimes exhaust, many contemporary analyses of the nature of truth. Yet, because truth plays a role in judgment and assertion regardless of whether alethic terms are expressly used, such analyses cannot be comprehensive or fully adequate. A more general analysis of the nature of truth is therefore required – one which continues to explain the significance of truth independently of the role alethic terms play in discourse. We (...) undertake such an analysis in this paper; in particular, we start with certain elements from Kant and Frege, and develop a construct of truth as a normative modality of cognitive acts (e.g., thought, judgment, assertion). Using the various biconditional T-schemas to sanction the general passage from assertions to (equivalent) assertions of truth, we then suggest that an illocutionary analysis of truth can contribute to its locutionary analysis as well, including the analysis of diverse constructions involving alethic terms that have been largely overlooked in the philosophical literature. Finally, we briefly indicate the importance of distinguishing between alethic and epistemic modalities. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers accept Hume's Dictum (HD), according to which there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed entities. Tacit in Lewis's work is a potential motivation for HD, according to which one should accept HD as presupposed by the best account of the range of metaphysical possibilities---namely, a combinatorial account, applied to spatiotemporal fundamentalia. Here I elucidate and assess this Ludovician motivation for HD. After refining HD and surveying its key, recurrent role in Lewis’s work, I present (...) Lewis’s appeal to HD as providing a broadly axiomatic generating basis for the space of metaphysical modality, and canvas the prima facie advantages of the resulting combinatorial principle---HD (L-combinatorialism)---as being principled, extensionally adequate and modally reductive. Most criticisms of Lewis's combinatorialism have targeted seeming ways in which the theory overgenerates the desired space; I rather argue that HD (L-combinatorialism) seriously undergenerates the desired space in three different ways. For each way I argue that available means of overcoming the undergeneration either fail to close the gap, undermine the claim that HD (L-combinatorialism) is a principled generator of metaphysical modal space, undermine the reductive status of Lewis's combinatorialism, or call into question the truth of HD. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize David McNaughton and Piers Rawling's formalization of the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction. I argue that their formalization is unable to accommodate an important ethical distinction between two types of conditional obligations. I then suggest a way of revising their formalization so as to fix the problem.
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 objects? Can objects that do not exist exemplify properties? Plantinga gives thorough and penetrating to all of these questions and many others. This volume contains some of the best work in metaphysics from the past 30 years, and will remain a source of critical contention and keen interest among philosophers of metaphysics and philosophical logic for years to come. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
In this discussion of Colin McGinn's book, 'Logical Properties', I comment first on the chapter "Existence", then on the chapter "Modality." With respect to existence, I argue that McGinn's view that existence is a property that some objects have and other objects lack requires the property of existence to be fundamentally unlike ordinary qualitative properties. Moreover, it opens up a challenging skeptical problem: how do I know that I exist? With respect to modality, I argue that McGinn's argument (...) that quantificational analyses of modality in terms of possible worlds are inevitably circular does not apply to modal theorists who hold that the notion of an impossible world is incoherent. (shrink)
Is what could have happened but never did as real as what did happen? What did happen, but isn't happening now, happened at another time. Analogously, one can say that what could have happened happens in another possible world. Whatever their views about the reality of such things as possible worlds, philosophers need to take this analogy seriously. Adriane Rini and Max Cresswell exhibit, in an easy step-by-step manner, the logical structure of temporal and modal discourse, and show that every (...) temporal construction has an exact parallel that requires a language that can refer to worlds, and vice versa. They make precise, in a way which can be articulated and tested, the claim that the parallel is at work behind even ordinary talk about time and modality. The book gives metaphysicians a sturdy framework for the investigation of time and modality - one that does not presuppose any particular metaphysical view. (shrink)
In the published version of Hugh Everett III’s doctoral dissertation, he inserted what has become a famous footnote, the ‘‘note added in proof’’. This footnote is often the strongest evidence given for any of various interpretations of Everett (the many worlds, many minds, many histories and many threads interpretations). In this paper I will propose a new interpretation of the footnote. One that is supported by evidence found in letters written to and by Everett; one that is suggested by a (...) new interpretation of Everett, an interpretation that takes seriously the central position of relative states in Everett’s pure wave mechanics: the relative facts interpretation. Of central interest in this paper is how to make sense of Everett’s claim in the ‘‘note added in proof’’ that ‘‘all elements of a superposition (all ‘‘branches’’) are ‘‘actual,’’ none any more ‘‘real’’ than the rest.’’. (shrink)
Sophist 255c14 distinguishes καθ’ αὑτά and πρὸς ἄλλα (in relation to others). Many commentators identify this with the ‘absolute’ and ‘relative’ category distinction. However, terms such as ‘same’ cannot fit into either category. Several reliable manuscripts read πρὸς ἄλληλα (in relation to each other) for πρὸς ἄλλα. I show that πρὸς ἄλληλα is a palaeographically plausible reading which accommodates the problematic terms. I then defend my reading against objections.
Modality and Anti-Metaphysics critically examines the most prominent approaches to modality among analytic philosophers in the twentieth century, including essentialism. Defending both the project of metaphysics and the essentialist position that metaphysical modality is conceptually and ontologically primitive, Stephen McLeod argues that the logical positivists did not succeed in banishing metaphysical modality from their own theoretical apparatus and he offers an original defence of metaphysics against their advocacy of its elimination. -/- Seeking to assuage the sceptical (...) worries which underlie modal anti-realism, McLeod provides an original contribution to essentialist epistemology, engaging with current debates about modality and suggesting that standard essentialist approaches to some issues in the philosophies of logic and language require revision. -/- This book offers valuable insights to professional philosophers, postgraduates and advanced undergraduates interested in metaphysics, philosophy of logic or the history of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. (shrink)
1. Reference and modality by W. V. O. Quine.--2. Modality and description by A. F. Smullyan.--3. Extensionality by R. B. Marcus.--4. Quantification into causal contexts by D. Føllesdal.--5. Semantical considerations on modal logic by S. A. Kripke.--6. Essentialism and quantified modal logic by T. Parsons.--7. Reference, essentialism, and modality by L. Linsky.--8. Quantifiers and propositional attitudes by W. V. O. Quine.--9. Quantifying in by D. Kaplan.--10. Semantics for propositional attitudes by J. Hintikka.--11. On Carnap's analysis of statements (...) of assertion and belief by A. Church.--Bibliography (p. -175). (shrink)
This paper examines Descartes' controversial theory of the creation of eternal truths and the views of modality attributed to Descartes in recent interpretations of it. It shows why attempts to make Descartes' view intelligible by distinctions of different kinds of modality fail to do justice to his theory, which is radical indeed without being incoherent or involving universal possibilism or irrationalism. Descartes' opposition to traditional rationalist views of modality, it suggests, can be seen instead as foreshadowing contemporary (...) views prefixed, logical structure of reality or of the divine intellect. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy has recently demonstrated a revived interest in metaphysical problems about possibility and necessity. Graeme Forbes here provides a careful description of the logical background of recent work in this area for those who may be unfamiliar with it, moving on to d discuss the distinction between modality de re and modality de dicto and the ontological commitments of possible worlds semantics. In addition, Forbes offers a unified theory of the essential properties of sets, organisms, artefacts, substances, (...) and events, based on the doctrine that identity facts must be intrinsically grounded, and analyzes and rejects apparent counterexamples to this doctrine. (shrink)
This appeared in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-93, as a response to four papers in a symposium on my book The Conscious Mind . Most of it should be comprehensible without having read the papers in question. This paper is for an audience of philosophers and so is relatively technical. It will probably also help to have read some of the book. (There is a corresponding precis of the book, written for the symposium.) The papers I'm responding to are: Chris (...) Hill & Brian McLaughlin, There are fewer things in reality than are dreamt of in Chalmers' philosophy Brian Loar, David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind Sydney Shoemaker, On David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind Stephen Yablo, Concepts and consciousness Contents. (shrink)
Do mereological fusions have their parts necessarily? None of the axioms of non-modal formulations of classical mereology appear to speak directly to this question. And yet a great many philosophers who take the part-whole relation to be governed by classical mereology seem to assume that they do. In addition to this, many philosophers who make allowance for the part-whole relation to obtain merely contingently between a part and a mereological fusion tend to depart from non-modal formulations of classical mereology at (...) least when it comes to the axiom of Unique Fusion, which states that no two different mereological fusions ever fuse exactly the same objects. This is no coincidence. There are reasons of principle why one’s adherence to classical mereology should exert some pull towards the view that mereological fusions have their parts necessarily. There is, however, no direct route from the combination of classical mereology and propositional modal logic to the hypothesis that the part-whole relation obtains necessarily between a part and a mereological fusion. In order to bridge between a modal formulation of classical mereology and the hypothesis that fusions have their parts necessarily, one needs to strengthen the axiom of Unrestricted Fusion in a way that is agreeable to many philosophers on both sides of the debate. (shrink)
This book gathers together thirteen of Peter van Inwagen's essays on metaphysics, several of which have acquired the status of modern classics in their field. They range widely across such topics as Quine's philosophy of quantification, the ontology of fiction, the part-whole relation, the theory of 'temporal parts', and human knowledge of modal truths. In addition, van Inwagen considers the question as to whether the psychological continuity theory of personal identity is compatible with materialism, and defends the thesis that possible (...) states of affairs are abstract objects, in opposition to David Lewis's 'extreme modal realism'. A specially-written introduction completes the collection, which will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in metaphysics. (shrink)
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 (...) versions jointly exhaust the entire range of possible-worlds theories. After showing that each argument is naturally addressed by adopting amodalism, I argue that all defenders of possible-worlds theory ought to accept amodalism. (shrink)
It is argued that miracles are best understood as natural events with supernatural causes and that such causal interaction is logically possible. Such miracles may, or may not, involve violations of natural laws. If violations of laws are possible, Humean supervenience views of laws are best avoided. Where miracles violate laws, it shows that what is naturally impossible may be actual and what is naturally necessary may not be actual. Whether or not miracles actually occur, this demonstrates that the nomic (...) modalities differ from the logical. The theory contrasts favourably with competitors and allows, contrary to an interpretation of Aquinas, that Creation would have been a miracle. (shrink)
Due to the influence of Nathan Salmon’s views, endorsement of the “flexibility of origins” thesis is often thought to carry a commitment to the denial of S4. This paper rejects the existence of this commitment and examines how Peacocke’s theory of the modal may accommodate flexibility of origins without denying S4. One of the essential features of Peacocke’s account is the identification of the Principles of Possibility, which include the Modal Extension Principle (MEP), and a set of Constitutive Principles. Regarding (...) their modal status, Peacocke argues for the necessity of MEP, but leaves open the possibility that some of the Constitutive Principles be only contingently true. Here, I show that the contingency of the Constitutive Principles is inconsistent with the recursivity of MEP, and this makes the account validate S4. It is also shown that, compatibly with the necessity of the Constitutive Principles, the account can still accommodate intuitions about flexibility of origins. However, the account we end up with once those intuitions are consistently accommodated may not be satisfactory, and this opens up the debate about whether or not artefacts allow for some variation in their origins. (shrink)
Materialists who do not deny the existence of mental phenomena usually claim that the mental supervenes on the physical, i.e. that there cannot be a change in the mental life of a man without there being a change in the man's body. This modal claim is usually understood in terms of logical necessity. I argue that this is a mistake, resulting from assumptions inherited from logical empiricism, and that it should be understood in terms of synthetic necessity.
According to the thesis of modal supervenience it is impossible that two objects be alike in their actual properties but differ in their modal properties. Some have argued that the concept of supervenience is inapplicable to the modal-actual case. Some have argued that the thesis of modal supervenience is trivially true. These arguments are refuted; a thesis of the supervenience of the modal on the actual is meaningful and nontrivial. The significance of the thesis is nevertheless limited by the problem (...) of finding a nonmodal specification for the purported subvenient properties. (shrink)
Two of the main interpretative problems in quantum mechanics are the so-called measurement problem and the question of the compatibility of quantum mechanics with relativity theory. Modal interpretations of quantum mechanics were designed to solve both of these problems. They are no-collapse (typically) indeterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics that supplement the orthodox state description of physical systems by a set of possessed properties that is supposed to be rich enough to account for the classical-like behavior of macroscopic systems, but sufficiently (...) restricted so as to avoid the no-hidden-variables theorems. But, as recent no-go theorems suggest, current modal interpretations are incompatible with relativity. In this paper, we suggest a strategy for circumventing these theorems. We then show how this strategy could naturally be integrated in a relational version of the modal interpretation, where quantum-mechanical states assign relational rather than intrinsic properties. (shrink)
Consider two standard quantified modal languages and whose vocabularies comprise the identity predicate and the existence predicate, each endowed with a standard S5 Kripke semantics where the models have a distinguished actual world, which differ only in that the quantifiers of are actualist while those of are possibilist. Is it possible to enrich these languages in the same manner, in a non-trivial way, so that the two resulting languages are equally expressive—i.e., so that for each sentence of one language there (...) is a sentence of the other language such that given any model, the former sentence is true at the actual world of the model iff the latter is? Forbes (1989) shows that this can be done by adding to both languages a pair of sentential operators called Vlach-operators, and imposing a syntactic restriction on their occurrences in formulas. As Forbes himself recognizes, this restriction is somewhat artificial. The first result I establish in this paper is that one gets sameness of expressivity by introducing infinitely many distinct pairs of indexed Vlach-operators. I then study the effect of adding to our enriched modal languages a rigid actuality operator. Finally, I discuss another means of enriching both languages which makes them expressively equivalent, one that exploits devices introduced in Peacocke (1978). Forbes himself mentions that option but does not prove that the resulting languages are equally expressive. I do, and I also compare the Peacockian and the Vlachian methods. In due course, I introduce an alternative notion of expressivity and I compare the Peacockian and the Vlachian languages in terms of that other notion. (shrink)
Recent no go theorems by Dickson and Clifton (1998), Arntzenius (1998) and Myrvold (2002) demonstrate that current modal interpretations are incompatible with relativity. In this paper we propose strategies for how to circumvent these theorems. We further show how these strategies can be developped into new modal interpretations in which the properties of systems are in general either holistic or relational. We explicitly write down an outline of dynamics for these properties which does not pick out a preferred foliation of (...) spacetime. (shrink)
Its significance for metaphysics is perhaps attributable to two main sources. In the first place, the concept may be used to characterize what the subject, or at least part of it, is about. For one of the central concerns of metaphysics is with the identity of things, with what they are. But the metaphysician is not interested in every property of the objects under consideration. In asking 'What is a person?', for example, he does not want to be told that (...) every person has a deep desire to be loved, even if this is in fact the case. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has argued that in the debate on modal ontology, the familiar distinction between actualism and possibilism should be replaced by a distinction between positions he calls contingentism and necessitism. He has also argued in favor of necessitism, using results on quantified modal logic with plurally interpreted second-order quantifiers showing that necessitists can draw distinctions contingentists cannot draw. Some of these results are similar to well-known results on the relative expressivity of quantified modal logics with so-called inner and (...) outer quantifiers. The present paper deals with these issues in the context of quantified modal logics with generalized quantifiers. Its main aim is to establish two results for such a logic: Firstly, contingentists can draw the distinctions necessitists can draw if and only if the logic with inner quantifiers is at least as expressive as the logic with outer quantifiers, and necessitists can draw the distinctions contingentists can draw if and only if the logic with outer quantifiers is at least as expressive as the logic with inner quantifiers. Secondly, the former two items are the case if and only if all of the generalized quantifiers are first-order definable, and the latter two items are the case if and only if first-order logic with these generalized quantifiers relativizes. (shrink)
This paper is an informal presentation of the ideas presented formally in (”Relative-Sameness Counterpart Theory”. Relative-sameness relations -- such as being the same person as -- are like David Lewis’s “counterpart” relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold over time or across worlds between objects that aren’t cross-time or cross-world identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in different contexts. They differ from his counterpart (...) relations, however, in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis’s Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005). The use of sameness as opposed to similarity relations in the analysis of de-re temporal and modal predication renders the resulting truth conditions as statable in terms that proponents of Kripke’s identity-based analysis can accept. (shrink)
It would surely be strange if we had several senses sitting in us, as if in a wooden horse, and it wasn’t the case that all those things converged on some one kind of thing, a mind or whatever one ought to call it: something with which we perceive all the perceived things by means of the senses, as if by means of instruments (Plato, _Theaetetus_ 184d1–5).
If, relative to a context, what a sentence says is necessarily true, then what it says must be so. If, relative to a context, what a sentence says is possible, then what it says could be true. Following natural philosophical usage, it would thus seem clear that in assessing an occurrence of a sentence for possibility or necessity, one is assessing what is said by that occurrence. In this paper, I argue that natural philosophical usage misleads here. In (...) assessing an occurrence of a sentence for possibility or necessity, one is not assessing the modal status of the proposition expressed by that occurrence of the sentence. (shrink)
This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999, Covert modality in non-finite contexts) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a (...) circumstantial modal base (i.e., root modals ), while epistemic interpretations of the same modals are immune to the effect. I propose that implicative readings are contingent on the relative position of the modal w.r.t. aspect: when aspect scopes over the modal (as I argue is the case for root modals), it forces an actual event, thereby yielding an implicative reading. When a modal element scopes over aspect, no actual event is forced. This happens (i) with epistemics, which structurally appear above tense and aspect; (ii) with imperfective on a root modal: imperfective brings in an additional layer of modality, itself responsible for removing the necessity for an actual event. This proposal enables us to solve the puzzle while maintaining a standardized semantics for aspects and modals. (shrink)
This is a book about the concept of a physical thing and about how the names of things relate to the things they name. It questions the prevalent view that names 'refer to' or 'denote' the things they name. Instead it presents a new theory of proper names, according to which names express certain special properties that the things they name exhibit. This theory leads to some important conclusions about whether things have any of their properties as a matter of (...) necessity. This will be an important book for philosophers in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, though it will also interest linguists concerned with the semantics of natural language. (shrink)
The Diodorean interpretation of modality reads the operator as it is now and always will be the case that. In this paper time is modelled by the four-dimensional Minkowskian geometry that forms the basis of Einstein's special theory of relativity, with event y coming after event x just in case a signal can be sent from x to y at a speed at most that of the speed of light (so that y is in the causal future of x).It (...) is shown that the modal sentences valid in this structure are precisely the theorems of the well-known logic S4.2, and that this system axiomatises the logics of two and three dimensional spacetimes as well. (shrink)
Eleven distinguished philosophers have contributed specially written essays on a set of topics much debated in recent years, including physicalism, qualia, semantic competence, conditionals, presuppositions, two-dimensional semantics, and the relation between logic and metaphysics. All these topics are prominent in the work of Robert Stalnaker, a major presence in contemporary philosophy, in honor of whom the volume is published. It also contains a substantial new essay in which Stalnaker replies to his critics, and sets out his current views on the (...) topics discussed. (shrink)
A similarity relation is a reflexive and symmetric binary relation between objects. Similarity is relative: it depends on the set of properties of objects used in determining their similarity or dissimilarity. A multi-modal logical language for reasoning about relative similarities is presented. The modalities correspond semantically to the upper and lower approximations of a set of objects by similarity relations corresponding to all subsets of a given set of properties of objects. A complete deduction system for the language (...) is presented. (shrink)
We show that the modal propositional logic G, originally introduced to describe the modality "it is provable that", is also sound for various interpretations using filters on ordinal numbers, for example the end-segment filters, the club filters, or the ineffable filters. We also prove that G is complete for the interpretation using end-segment filters. In the case of club filters, we show that G is complete if Jensen's principle □ κ holds for all $\kappa ; on the other hand, (...) it is consistent relative to a Mahlo cardinal that G be incomplete for the club filter interpretation. (shrink)
For the past 30 years, Alvin Plantinga's work in the metaphysics of modality has been both insightful and innovative; it is high time that his papers in this area be collected together in a single volume. This book contains 11 pieces of Plantinga's work in modal metaphysics, arranged in chronological order so one can trace the development of his thought on matters modal. In what follows I will lay out the principal concepts and arguments in these papers.
This paper is a modification of Nicola Guarino and Christopher Welty's conception of the subsumption relation. Guarino and Welty require that that whether one property may subsume the other should depend on the modal metaproperties of those properties. I argue that the part of their account that concerns the metaproperty carrying a criterion of identity is essentially flawed. Subsequently, I propose to constrain the subsumption relation not, as Guarino and Welty require, by means of incompatible criteria of absolute identity but (...) by means of incompatible criteria of relative identity. After discussing the benefits of applying relative identity in ontological investigations I provide a formal framework in which to prove a counterpart of the identity criteria constraint. (shrink)
This paper examines the ramifications of Hume's view of the relation of conceivability to metaphysical possibility. It argues that the limitations Hume places of the representations involved in moves to conceivability to metaphysical possibility preclude any straightforward argument against full-blooded causal realism in Hume from conceivability. Furthermore, our finding certain states of affairs conceivable when they are not metaphysically possible is perfectly compatible with the thrust of the causal realist position.
A study of various central and connected topics in philosophical logic and the theory of meaning. There are important sections on the relation between linguistic and abstract entities, on necessity and convention, on meaning, sense and reference, and on entailment. Dr Lewy proposes a number of original solutions to problems which have been widely discussed in literature, and there is in particular a sharp and sustained criticism of conventionalism and reductionism. These are among the most difficult and intricate issues in (...) contemporary philosophy, but Dr Lewy writes with great clarity and a minimum of technicality. Where his views are controversial they are explained and supported in a detail which makes it both possible and necessary for potential critics to state their disagreement precisely. The book should therefore be of value as an advanced textbook as well as an original contribution to philosophical logic. (shrink)
Dynamic Epistemic Logic (DEL) is the study of how to reason about knowledge, belief, and communication. This paper studies the relative expressivity of certain fragments of the DEL language for public and private communication. It is shown that the language of public communication with common knowledge and the language of private communication with common knowledge are expressively incomparable for the class of all pointed Kripke models, which provides a formal proof that public and private communication are fundamentally different in (...) the presence of common knowledge. It is also shown that single-recipient private communication does not add expressive power to the language of modal logic with common knowledge for any class of transitive pointed Kripke models. The latter result provides a sense in which positive introspection—believing our own beliefs—induces a kind of self-dialog. (shrink)
This is part I of a two-part essay introducing case-intensional first order logic (CIFOL), an easy-to-use, uniform, powerful, and useful combination of first-order logic with modal logic resulting from philosophical and technical modifications of Bressan’s General interpreted modal calculus (Yale University Press 1972 ). CIFOL starts with a set of cases; each expression has an extension in each case and an intension, which is the function from the cases to the respective case-relative extensions. Predication is intensional; identity is extensional. (...) Definite descriptions are context-independent terms, and lambda-predicates and -operators can be introduced without constraints. These logical resources allow one to define, within CIFOL, important properties of properties, viz., extensionality (whether the property applies, depends only on an extension in one case) and absoluteness, Bressan’s chief innovation that allows tracing an individual across cases without recourse to any notion of “rigid designation” or “trans-world identity.” Thereby CIFOL abstains from incorporating any metaphysical principles into the quantificational machinery, unlike extant frameworks of quantified modal logic. We claim that this neutrality makes CIFOL a useful tool for discussing both metaphysical and scientific arguments involving modality and quantification, and we illustrate by discussing in diagrammatic detail a number of such arguments involving the extensional identification of individuals via absolute (substance) properties, essential properties, de re vs. de dicto , and the results of possible tests. (shrink)
In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we offer an (...) explanation of why certain locutions invite insensitive assessments, focusing primarily on ’tasty’ and ’might’. We spell out some reasons why felicitous insensitive assessments are puzzling and argue briefly that recent attempts to accommodate such assessments (including attempts by John MacFarlane, Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies) all fail to provide more than hints at a solution to the puzzle. In the main part of the paper, we develop an account of felicitous insensitive assessments by identifying a number of pragmatic factors that influence the felicity of assessments. Before closing, we argue that the role of these factors extend beyond cases considered in the debate about assessor-relativism and fit comfortably with standard contextualist analyses of the relevant locutions. (shrink)
This paper presents forms of multimodal perceptual experience that undermine the claim that each aspect of perceptual experience is modality speciﬁc. In particular, it argues against the thesis that all phenomenal character is modality speciﬁc (even making an allowance for co-conscious unity). It concludes that a multimodal perceptual episode may have phenomenal features beyond those that are associated with the speciﬁc modalities.
A proof is given, at a greater level of generality than previous 'no-go' theorems, of the impossibility of formulating a modal interpretation that exhibits 'serious' Lorentz invariance at the fundamental level. Particular attention is given to modal interpretations of the type proposed by Bub.
Descartes's view of modality is analyzed by contrast to two earlier models: the ancient realist one, defended by Boethius, where possibility and necessity are connected to natural potency, and the modern intensionalist one, which dissociates necessary and possible truths from any ontological foundation, treating them as conceptual, a priori given preconditions for any intellect. The emergence of this view is traced from Gilbert of Poitiers to duns Scotus, Ockham and Suarez. The Cartesian theory of the creation of eternal truths, (...) it is argued, involves a rejection of this idea of absolute conceivability and can be seen as a constructivist view of intelligibility and rationality. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an account of the meaning of must and can within the framework of possible worlds semantics. The paper consists of two parts: the first argues for a relative concept of modality underlying modal words like must and can in natural language. I give preliminary definitions of the meaning of these words which are formulated in terms of logical consequence and compatibility, respectively. The second part discusses one kind of insufficiency in the meaning definitions (...) given in the first part, which arise from the ex falso quodlibet paradox of logical consequence. In stepwise fashion, I make an attempt to avoid most of the consequences of this paradox for the meaning definitions of must and can. (shrink)
A not-unpopular position in the metaphysics of material objects (Ted Sider's, for instance) combines realism about what objects there are and the conditions of objecthood with conventionalism about de re modality. I argue that this is not a coherent combination of views: one must go fully conventionalist, or fully realist. The central argument displays the difficulty for the modal conventionalist/object realist in specifying the object that satisfies de re modal predicates. I argue that if this is a mind-independent object, (...) contradictions arise when we consider the possibility or actuality of non-equivalent conventions both applying to 'the same object'. (shrink)
This paper investigates the way that linguistic expressions influence vagueness, focusing on the interpretation of the positive (unmarked) form of gradable adjectives. I begin by developing a semantic analysis of the positive form of ‘relative’ gradable adjectives, expanding on previous proposals by further motivating a semantic basis for vagueness and by precisely identifying and characterizing the division of labor between the compositional and contextual aspects of its interpretation. I then introduce a challenge to the analysis from the class of (...) ‘absolute’ gradable adjectives: adjectives that are demonstrably gradable, but which have positive forms that relate objects to maximal or minimal degrees, and do not give rise to vagueness. I argue that the truth conditional difference between relative and absolute adjectives in the positive form stems from the interaction of lexical semantic properties of gradable adjectives—the structure of the scales they use—and a general constraint on interpretive economy that requires truth conditions to be computed on the basis of conventional meaning to the extent possible, allowing for context dependent truth conditions only as a last resort. (shrink)
What follows are compressed versions of three lectures on the subject of "Mind and Modality", given at Princeton University the week of October 12-16, 1998. The first two form a series; the third stands alone to some extent. All are philosophically technical, and probably of interest mainly to philosophers. I hope that they make sense, at least to those familiar with my book _The Conscious Mind_ . Lecture 1 recapitulates some of the material in the book in a somewhat (...) different form, and adds some further material on conditionals and on Kripke. Note that section has a more or less definitive formalization of the anti-materialist argument from the book (lots of people have asked for this). Lecture 2 pushes deeper into the heart of modality, further investigating the conceivability/possibility relationship and the epistemology of modality (with some material on the scrutability of truth in general), and arguing for a sort of modal rationalism. Lecture 3 gives an analysis of the content of beliefs about experiences, and applies this to a number of epistemological issues, including incorrigibility and the dialectic on "The Myth of the Given". (shrink)
In this paper I will offer a novel understanding of a priori knowledge. My claim is that the sharp distinction that is usually made between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is groundless. It will be argued that a plausible understanding of a priori and a posteriori knowledge has to acknowledge that they are in a constant bootstrapping relationship. It is also crucial that we distinguish between a priori propositions that hold in the actual world and merely possible, non-actual a (...) priori propositions, as we will see when considering cases like Euclidean geometry. Furthermore, contrary to what Kripke seems to suggest, a priori knowledge is intimately connected with metaphysical modality, indeed, grounded in it. The task of a priori reasoning, according to this account, is to delimit the space of metaphysically possible worlds in order for us to be able to determine what is actual. (shrink)
Saul Kripke, in a series of classic writings of the 1960s and 1970s, changed the face of metaphysics and philosophy of language. Christopher Hughes offers a careful exposition and critical analysis of Kripke's central ideas about names, necessity, and identity. He clears up some common misunderstandings of Kripke's views on rigid designation, causality and reference, and the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori. Through his engagement with Kripke's ideas Hughes makes a significant contribution to ongoing debates on, inter alia, (...) the semantics of natural kind terms, the nature of natural kinds, the essentiality of origin and constitution, the relative merits of 'identitarian' and counterpart-theoretic accounts of modality, and the identity or otherwise of mental types and tokens with physical types and tokens. No specialist knowledge in either the philosophy of language or metaphysics is presupposed; Hughes's book will be valuable for anyone working on the ideas which Kripke made famous in the philosophy world. (shrink)
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, properties-based theory of modality and explore several specific ways to flesh the general proposal out, including my favored version, the Powers Theory. And, fourth, I offer a powers semantics for counterfactuals that each version of the properties-based theory of modality can accept, mutatis mutandis. Together with a definition of possibility and necessity in terms of counterfactuals, the powers semantics of counterfactuals generates a semantics for modality that appeals to causal powers and not possible worlds. (shrink)
This paper challenges the Kripkean interpretation of a posteriori necessities. It will be demonstrated, by an analysis of classic examples, that the modal content of supposed a posteriori necessities is more complicated than the Kripkean line suggests. We will see that further research is needed concerning the a priori principles underlying all a posteriori necessities. In the course of this analysis it will emerge that the modal content of a posteriori necessities can be best described in terms of a Finean (...) conception of modality – by giving essences priority over modality. The upshot of this is that we might be able to establish the necessity of certain supposed a posteriori necessities by a priori means. (shrink)
Some recently-proposed counterexamples to the traditional definition of essential property do not require a separate logic of essence. Instead, the examples can be analysed in terms of the logic and theory of abstract objects. This theory distinguishes between abstract and ordinary objects, and provides a general analysis of the essential properties of both kinds of object. The claim ‘x has F necessarily’ becomes ambiguous in the case of abstract objects, and in the case of ordinary objects there are various ways (...) to make the definition of ‘F is essential to x’ more fine-grained. Consequently, the traditional definition of essential property for abstract objects in terms of modal notions is not correct, and for ordinary objects the relationship between essential properties and modality, once properly understood, addresses the counterexample. (shrink)
What is our epistemic access to metaphysical modality? Timothy Williamson suggests that the epistemology of counterfactuals will provide the answer. This paper challenges Williamson's account and argues that certain elements of the epistemology of counterfactuals that he discusses, namely so called background knowledge and constitutive facts, are already saturated with modal content which his account fails to explain. Williamson's account will first be outlined and the role of background knowledge and constitutive facts analysed. Their key role is to restrict (...) our imagination to rule out irrelevant counterfactual suppositions. However, background knowledge turns out to be problematic in cases where we are dealing with metaphysically possible counterfactual suppositions that violate the actual laws of physics. As we will see, unless Williamson assumes that background knowledge corresponds with the actual, true laws of physics and that these laws are metaphysically necessary, it will be difficult to address this problem. Furthermore, Williamson's account fails to accommodate the distinction between conceivable yet metaphysically impossible scenarios, and conceivable and metaphysically possible scenarios. This is because background knowledge and constitutive facts are based strictly on our knowledge of the actual world. Williamson does attempt to address this concern with regard to metaphysical necessities – as they hold across all possible worlds – but we will see that even in this case the explanation is questionable. These problems, it will be suggested, cannot be addressed in a counterfactual account of the epistemology of modality. The paper finishes with an analysis of Williamson's possible rejoinders and some discussion about the prospects of an alternative account of modal epistemology. (shrink)
Constructive empiricism is supposed to offer a positive alternative to scientific realism that dispenses with the need for metaphysics. I first review the terms of the debate before arguing that the standard objections to constructive empiricism are not decisive. I then explain van Fraassen's views on modality and counterfactuals, and argue that, because constructive empiricism recommends on epistemological grounds belief in the empirical adequacy rather than the truth of theories, it requires that there be an objective modal distinction between (...) the observable and the unobservable. This conclusion is incompatible with van Fraassen's empiricism. Finally I explain some further problems for constructive empiricism that arise when we consider modal matters. (shrink)
When I tell you that it’s raining, I describe a way the world is—viz., rainy. I say something whose truth turns on how things are with the weather in the world. Likewise when I tell you that the weatherman thinks that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I say turns on how things are with the weatherman’s state of mind in the world. Likewise when I tell you that I think that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I (...) say turns on how things are with my state of mind in the world. (shrink)
It is now generally understood that constraints play an important role in commonsense moral thinking and generally accepted that they cannot be accommodated by ordinary, traditional consequentialism. Some have seen this as the most conclusive evidence that consequentialism is hopelessly wrong,1 while others have seen it as the most conclusive evidence that moral common sense is hopelessly paradoxical.2 Fortunately, or so it is widely thought, in the last twenty-five years a new research program, that of Agent-Relative Teleology, has come (...) to the rescue on all sides. While consequentialism says that every agent ought always to do that action that will bring about the most good, according to Agent- Relative Teleology. (shrink)