About this topic
Summary Modal Empiricism is the attempt to explain how we have knowledge of necessity and possibility through an empiricist program. The key issues are: how is empiricism to be defined? Does empiricism provide enough resources for one to explain all the kinds of modal statements that are deemed true? What is the key mechanism for arriving at modal knowledge on the empiricist program?
Introductions A key introduction is Vaidya 2007
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36 found
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  1. Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds.Nora Berenstain - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):631-647.
    Contingentism, generally contrasted with law necessitarianism, is the view that the laws of nature are contingent. It is often coupled with the claim that their contingency is knowable a priori. This paper considers Bird's (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007) arguments for the thesis that, necessarily, salt dissolves in water; and it defends his view against Beebee's (2001) and Psillos's (2002) contingentist objections. A new contingentist objection is offered and several reasons for scepticism about its success are raised. It is concluded that (...)
  2. Modal Epistemology After Rationalism.Fischer Bob & Leon Felipe (eds.) - 2017 - Dordrecht: Synthese Library.
    This collection highlights the new trend away from rationalism and toward empiricism in the epistemology of modality. Accordingly, the book represents a wide range of positions on the empirical sources of modal knowledge. Readers will find an introduction that surveys the field and provides a brief overview of the work, which progresses from empirically-sensitive rationalist accounts to fully empiricist accounts of modal knowledge. Early chapters focus on challenges to rationalist theories, essence-based approaches to modal knowledge, and the prospects for naturalizing (...)
  3. Passage and Possibility: A Study of Aristotle's Modal Concepts.Jane M. Day - 1984 - Philosophical Books 25 (2):81-83.
  4. The Problematic of Metaphysical Knowledge.John Deely - 1967 - Philosophy Today 11 (3):184.
  5. On the Alleged Knowledge of Metaphysical Modality.Duen-Min Deng - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-17.
    Many metaphysical controversies can be understood as debates over whether some alleged entities are metaphysically possible. No doubt, with regard to these matters, we may have opinions or theories, commonsensical or sophisticated. But do we have knowledge of them? Can we really know that something is metaphysically possible, and if so, how? Several different answers have been offered in the literature, intending to illustrate how we may have knowledge of metaphysical modality. In this paper, I concentrate on a proposal by (...)
  6. C. I. Lewis and the Benacerraf Problem.Bob Fischer - forthcoming - Episteme:1-12.
    Realists about modality offer an attractive semantics for modal discourse in terms of possible worlds, but standard accounts of the worlds—as properties, propositions, or causally-isolated concreta—invoke entities with which we can’t interact. If realism is true, how can we know anything about modal matters? Let's call this "the Benacerraf Problem." I suggest that C. I. Lewis has an intriguing answer to it. Given that we’re willing to disentangle some of Lewis’s insights from his phenomenalism, we can take the following line. (...)
  7. Modal Justification Via Theories.Bob Fischer - 2017 - Springer.
    This monograph articulates and defends a theory-based epistemology of modality (TEM). According to TEM, someone justifiably believe an interesting modal claim if and only if (a) she justifiably believes a theory according to which that claim is true, (b) she believes that claim on the basis of that theory, and (c) she has no defeaters for her belief in that claim. The book has two parts. In the first, the author motivates TEM, sets out the view in detail, and defends (...)
  8. A Theory-Based Epistemology of Modality.Bob Fischer - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):228-247.
    We have some justified beliefs about modal matters. A modal epistemology should explain what’s involved in our having that justification. Given that we’re realists about modality, how should we expect that explanation to go? In the first part of this essay, I suggest an answer to this question based on an analogy with games. Then, I outline a modal epistemology that fits with that answer. According to a theory-based epistemology of modality, you justifiably believe that p if you justifiably believe (...)
  9. Hale on the Architecture of Modal Knowledge.Bob Fischer - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):76-89.
    There are many modal epistemologies available to us. Which should we endorse? According to Bob Hale, we can start to answer this question by examining the architecture of modal knowledge. That is, we can try to decide between the following claims: knowing that p is possible is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no conflicting necessities—a necessity-based approach—and knowing that p is necessary is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no (...)
  10. Theory Selection in Modal Epistemology.Robert William Fischer - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (3):289-304.
    Accounts of modal knowledge are many and varied. How should we choose between them? I propose that we employ inference to the best explanation, and I suggest that there are three desiderata that we should use to rank hypotheses: conservatism, simplicity, and the ability to handle disagreement. After examining these desiderata, I contend that they can’t be used to justify belief in the modal epistemology that fares best, but that they can justify our accepting it in an epistemically significant sense. (...)
  11. Lines of Thought: Central Concepts in Cognitive Psychology.Robert William Fischer - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology (3):1-5.
    (2014). Lines of thought: Central concepts in cognitive psychology. Philosophical Psychology: Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 445-449. doi: 10.1080/09515089.2012.732338.
  12. Modal Knowledge, in Theory.Robert William Fischer - 2012 - Southwest Philosophy Review 28 (1):227-235.
    Some philosophers think that a person can justifi ably believe that p is possible even though she has no theory according to which p is possible. They think, for example, that she can justifiably believe that there could be naturally purple elephants even though she lacks (inter alia) a theory about the factors germane to elephant pigmentation. There is a certain optimism about this view: it seems to assume that people are fairly good at ferreting out problems with proposed modal (...)
  13. The Modal-Knowno Problem.Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon - 2016 - Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (1):225-232.
  14. Epistemology and Possibility.Rebecca Hanrahan - 2005 - Dialogue 44 (4):627-652.
    ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. To (...)
  15. Epistemology and Possibility.Rebecca Hanrahan - 2005 - Dialogue 44 (4):627-652.
    ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. To (...)
  16. Epistemology and Possibility.Rebecca Hanrahan - 2005 - Dialogue 44 (4):627-652.
    ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. To (...)
  17. Consciousness and Modal Empiricism.Rebecca Roman Hanrahan - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (2):281-306.
    David Chalmers supports his contention that there is a possible world populated by our zombie twins by arguing for the assumption that conceivability entails possibility. But, I argue, the modal epistemology he sets forth, ‘modal rationalism,’ ignores the problem of incompleteness and relies on an idealized notion of conceivability. As a consequence, this epistemology can’t justify our quotidian judgments of possibility, let alone those judgments that concern the mind/body connection. Working from the analogy that the imagination is to the possible (...)
  18. Evidence for Possibility.Rebecca Roman Hanrahan - 1998 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Consider the claim: Our actions are free if and only if we could have done otherwise; or the claim, We are essentially mental substances because we can exist without our bodies. Both of these claims, along with countless others, employ a notion of possibility. If this notion is to have a place in philosophy, we must be able to justify our modal claims. We need an epistemology of possibility. It is often assumed that the imagination is the key here. The (...)
  19. Can Modal Skepticism Defeat Humean Skepticism?Peter Hawke - 2017 - In Bob Fischer Felipe Leon (ed.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Dordrecht: Synthese Library. pp. 281-308.
    My topic is moderate modal skepticism in the spirit of Peter van Inwagen. Here understood, this is a conservative version of modal empiricism that severely limits the extent to which an ordinary agent can reasonably believe “exotic” possibility claims. I offer a novel argument in support of this brand of skepticism: modal skepticism grounds an attractive (and novel) reply to Humean skepticism. Thus, I propose that modal skepticism be accepted on the basis of its theoretical utility as a tool for (...)
  20. Concepts, Experience and Modal Knowledge1.C. S. Jenkins - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):255-279.
    forthcoming in R. Cameron, B. Hale and A. Hoffmann (ed.s), The Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics of Modality, Oxford University Press. Presents a concept-grounding account of modal knowledge.
  21. Modal Knowledge, Evolution, and Counterfactuals.Thomas Kroedel - 2017 - In Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Dordrecht.
    The chapter defends an evolutionary explanation of modal knowledge from knowledge of counterfactual conditionals. Knowledge of counterfactuals is evolutionarily useful, as it enables us to learn from mistakes. Given the standard semantics for counterfactuals, there are several equivalences between modal claims and claims involving counterfactuals that can be used to explain modal knowledge. Timothy Williamson has suggested an explanation of modal knowledge that draws on the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘If p were false, a contradiction would be the case’. (...)
  22. From Modal Skepticism to Modal Empiricism.Felipe Leon - forthcoming - In Robert William Fischer Felipe Leon (ed.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism.
    This collection highlights the new trend away from rationalism and toward empiricism in the epistemology of modality. Accordingly, the book represents a wide range of positions on the empirical sources of modal knowledge. Readers will find an introduction that surveys the field and provides a brief overview of the work, which progresses from empirically-sensitive rationalist accounts to fully empiricist accounts of modal knowledge. Early chapters focus on challenges to rationalist theories, essence-based approaches to modal knowledge, and the prospects for naturalizing (...)
  23. On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Blackwell.
    This book is a defense of modal realism; the thesis that our world is but one of a plurality of worlds, and that the individuals that inhabit our world are only ...
  24. A Naturalistic Account of Content and an Application to Modal Epistemology.Manolo Martínez - 2010 - Dissertation, Universitat de Barcelona
  25. Knowledge of Necessity: Logical Positivism and Kripkean Essentialism: Stephen K. McLeod.Stephen K. Mcleod - 2008 - Philosophy 83 (2):179-191.
    By the lights of a central logical positivist thesis in modal epistemology, for every necessary truth that we know, we know it a priori and for every contingent truth that we know, we know it a posteriori. Kripke attacks on both flanks, arguing that we know necessary a posteriori truths and that we probably know contingent a priori truths. In a reflection of Kripke's confidence in his own arguments, the first of these Kripkean claims is far more widely accepted than (...)
  26. Principles for Possibilia.Christopher Peacocke - 2002 - Noûs 36 (3):486–508.
    It seems to be an obvious truth that There could be something that doesn't actually exist. That is, it seems to be obiously true that ◊∃×). It is sufficient for the truth of that there could be more people, or trees, or cars, than there actually are. It is also sufficient for the truth of that there could be some pepole, or trees, or cars that are distinct from all those that actually exist. Do and suchlike statements involve a commitment (...)
  27. The Principle-Based Account of Modality: Elucidations and Resources. [REVIEW]Christopher Peacocke - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (3):663–679.
  28. Review of David J. Chalmers, Constructing the World.Thomas W. Polger - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (2):419-423.
    David Chalmers burst onto the philosophical scene in the mid-1990s with his work on consciousness, which awakened slumbering zombie arguments against physicalism and transformed the explanatory gap into the hard problem of consciousness. The distinction between hard and easy problems of consciousness became a central dogma of the movement. Chalmers’ influence in philosophy and consciousness studies is unquestionable. But enthusiasts of Chalmers’ work on consciousness may be excused for not fully appreciating his own justification for drawing the hard/easy distinction, or (...)
  29. Continuity as a Guide to Possibility.Joshua Rasmussen - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):525-538.
    I propose a new guide for assessing claims about what is possible. I offer examples of modal claims that are, in a certain intuitive respect, ?continuous? with one another. I then put forward a general, defeasible principle of modal continuity that can account for our intuitions about those examples. According to this principle, statements that differ by a mere quantitative term don't normally differ with respect to being possibly true. I offer a precise statement of the principle, and then I (...)
  30. Thought and World: The Hidden Necessities.James F. Ross - 2008 - University of Notre Dame Press.
    Introduction: Structural realism -- Necessities : earned truth and made truth -- Real impossibility -- What might have been -- Truth -- Perception and abstraction -- Emergent consciousness and irreducible understanding -- Real natures : software everywhere -- Going wrong with the master of falsity.
  31. Necessity, Essence, and Individuation: A Defense of Conventionalism.Alan Sidelle - 1989 - Cornell University Press.
  32. Perceptual Knowledge of Nonactual Possibilities.Margot Strohminger - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):363-75.
    It is widely assumed that sense perception cannot deliver knowledge of nonactual (metaphysical) possibilities. We are not supposed to be able to know that a proposition p is necessary or that p is possible (if p is false) by sense perception. This paper aims to establish that the role of sense perception is not so limited. It argues that we can know lots of modal facts by perception. While the most straightforward examples concern possibility and contingency, others concern necessity and (...)
  33. The Epistemology of Essence.Tuomas E. Tahko - forthcoming - In Alexander Carruth, S. C. Gibb & John Heil (eds.), Ontology, Modality, Mind: Themes from the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe. Oxford University Press.
    The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, whereby essence (...)
  34. Empirically-Informed Modal Rationalism.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2017 - In Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Synthese Library. pp. 29-45.
    In this chapter, it is suggested that our epistemic access to metaphysical modality generally involves rationalist, a priori elements. However, these a priori elements are much more subtle than ‘traditional’ modal rationalism assumes. In fact, some might even question the ‘apriority’ of these elements, but I should stress that I consider a priori and a posteriori elements especially in our modal inquiry to be so deeply intertwined that it is not easy to tell them apart. Supposed metaphysically necessary identity statements (...)
  35. Empiiriset elementit modaaliepistemologiassa.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2016 - In Ilkka Niiniluoto, Tuomas Tahko & Teemu Toppinen (eds.), Mahdollisuus. Helsinki: Philosophical Society of Finland. pp. 154-159.
    Title in English: "Empirical elements in modal epistemology". This article examines Peter van Inwagen's modal scepticism and argues that although van Inwagen is correct to criticise modal rationalism, there are tools in modal empiricism that are promising sources of modal knowledge.
  36. Knowledge Elicitation Using a Multi-Modal Approach.M. J. Winfield, A. Basden & I. Cresswell - 1996 - World Futures 47 (1):93-101.
    (1996). Knowledge elicitation using a multi‐modal approach. World Futures: Vol. 47, Unity and Diversity in Contemporary Systems Tinking: Systematic Pictures at an Exhibition, pp. 93-101.