Modality

Edited by Derek Haderlie (Brigham Young University)
About this topic
Summary In philosophical contexts, the study of modality is primarily the study of necessity and possibility. Sometimes this is expressed by talking about possible worlds, but this is to a certain extent just a façon de parler. In metaphysics, we are interested in the nature of the modal space -- are the so called possible worlds merely conventional or are they concrete, as modal realism would have it? Whatever the nature of the modal space, questions remain about the status of the different varieties of modality, and our epistemic access to modality. One central topic in recent literature concerns the ground of modal truths, that is, in virtue of what is something necessary? This is also linked to essentialism and de re modality: can we explain transworld identity in terms of essential properties, or perhaps even ground modal truths to essentialist truths?
Key works Some of the most important discussion starters regarding modality include Armstrong 1989, Fine 1994, Forbes 1985, Hale 1996, Kripke 1980, Lewis 1986, Lewis 1973, and Plantinga 1974. Some significant early work (e.g. by Adams, Chisholm, Hintikka, Kripke, Kaplan, Lewis, Plantinga, Quine, Stalnaker) on modality has been collected in volumes such as Linsky 1971, Loux 1979, and Tooley 1999. Many classic papers are also included in Plantinga & Davidson 2003, Stalnaker 2003, and Fine 2005. The contemporary literature is enormous, some important contributions are Lowe 1998, Soames 2002, Williamson 2007, and Jubien 2009. For modal epistemology in particular, Gendler & Hawthorne 2002 is an excellent resource.
Introductions Chihara 1998; Divers 2002; Girle 2003; Hale & Hoffmann 2009; Melia 2003; Vaidya 2007.
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  1. Naturalización de la Metafísica Modal.Carlos Romero - 2021 - Dissertation, National Autonomous University of Mexico
    En esta tesis presento, motivo y doy los primeros pasos en la realización del proyecto de naturalización de la metafísica modal: la transformación del área en un capítulo de la filosofía de la ciencia en lugar de la metafísica especulativa y autónoma. -/- En la introducción, explico el concepto de naturalización que doy por sentado a lo largo de la tesis, además de objetar dos propuestas recientes, de acuerdo a las cuales la metafísica modal —o alguna postura en el área— (...)
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  2. How (Not) to Construct Worlds with Responsibility.Fabio Lampert & Pedro Merlussi - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In a recent article, P. Roger Turner and Justin Capes argue that no one is, or ever was, even partly morally responsible for certain world-indexed truths. Here we present our reasons for thinking that their argument is unsound: It depends on the premise that possible worlds are maximally consistent states of affairs, which is, under plausible assumptions concerning states of affairs, demonstrably false. Our argument to show this is based on Bertrand Russell’s original ‘paradox of propositions’. We should then opt (...)
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  3. A Theory of Necessities.Andrew Bacon & Jin Zeng - manuscript
    We develop a theory of necessity operators within a version of higher-order logic that is neutral about how fine-grained reality is. The theory is axiomatized in terms of the primitive of \emph{being a necessity}, and we show how the central notions in the philosophy of modality can be recovered from it. Various questions are formulated and settled within the framework, including questions about the ordering of necessities under strength, the existence of broadest necessities satisfying various logical conditions, and questions about (...)
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  4. The Logic of Logical Necessity.Andrew Bacon & Kit Fine - manuscript
    Prior to Kripke's seminal work on the semantics of modal logic, McKinsey offered an alternative interpretation of the necessity operator, inspired by the Bolzano-Tarski notion of logical truth. According to this interpretation, `it is necessary that A' is true just in case every sentence with the same logical form as A is true. In our paper, we investigate this interpretation of the modal operator, resolving some technical questions, and relating it to the logical interpretation of modality and some views in (...)
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  5. Can Hardcore Actualism Validate S5?Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2):342-358.
    Hardcore actualism (HA) grounds all modal truths in the concrete constituents of the actual world (see, e.g., Borghini and Williams (2008), Jacobs (2010), Vetter (2015)). I bolster HA, and elucidate the very nature of possibility (and necessity) according to HA, by considering if it can validate S5 modal logic. Interestingly, different considerations pull in different directions on this issue. To resolve the tension, we are forced to think hard about the nature of the hardcore actualist's modal reality and how radically (...)
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  6. A Linguistic Framework for Knowledge, Belief, and Veridicality Judgement.Anastasia Giannakidou & Alda Mari - manuscript
  7. Dynamis and Energeia in Aristotle's Metaphysics.Hikmet Unlu - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (1):1-15.
    This paper offers an interpretation of Aristotle’s concepts of dynamis and energeia (commonly translated as potentiality and actuality), and of the thematic progression of Metaphysics IX. I first raise the question of where motion fits in Aristotle’s categories and argue that the locus of motion in the system of categories are the categories of doing and suffering, in which case dynamis and energeia in respect of motion can also be understood as the dynamis and energeia of doing and suffering. Next, (...)
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  8. The Open Future: Why Future Contingents Are All False.Patrick Todd - forthcoming - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In The Open Future: Why Future Contingents are all False, Patrick Todd launches a sustained defense of a radical interpretation of the doctrine of the open future, one according to which all claims about undetermined aspects of the future are simply false. Todd argues that this theory is metaphysically more parsimonious than its rivals, and that objections to its logical and practical coherence are much overblown. Todd shows how proponents of this view can maintain classical logic, and argues that the (...)
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  9. Norms and Necessity. [REVIEW]Sybren Heyndels - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
    Norms and Necessity, by Amie Thomasson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. xi + 232.
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  10. Mentaculus Laws and Metaphysics.Heather Demarest - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3):387--399.
    The laws of nature are central to our understanding of the world. And while there is often broad agreement about the technical formulations of the laws, there can be sharp disagreement about the metaphysical nature of the laws. For instance, the Newtonian laws of nature can be stated and analyzed by appealing to a set of possible worlds. Yet, some philosophers argue the worlds are mere notational devices, while others take them to be robust, concrete entities in their own right. (...)
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  11. The Ineffability of Induction.David Builes - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    My first goal is to motivate a distinctively metaphysical approach to the problem of induction. I argue that there is a precise sense in which the only way that orthodox Humean and non-Humean views can justify induction is by appealing to extremely strong and unmotivated probabilistic biases. My second goal is to sketch what such a metaphysical approach could possibly look like. After sketching such an approach, I consider a toy case that illustrates the way in which such a metaphysics (...)
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  12. Explanation and Modality: On Why the Swampman is Still Worrisome to Teleosemanticists.Dongwoo Kim - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    In a series of papers, Papineau argues that the Swampman scenario is not even the start of an objection to teleosemantics as a scientific reduction of belief. It is against this claim that I want to argue here. I shall argue that our intuition about the scenario questions the adequacy of the conceptual foundations of teleosemantics, namely, success semantics and the etiological conception of biological function, on which the explanatory power of the theory rests. In the course of argument, some (...)
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  13. Contemporary Hylomorphisms: On the Matter of Form.Christopher J. Austin - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy Today 2 (2):113-144.
    As there is currently a neo-Aristotelian revival currently taking place within contemporary metaphysics and dispositions, or causal powers are now being routinely utilised in theories of causality and modality, more attention is beginning to be paid to a central Aristotelian concern: the metaphysics of substantial unity, and the doctrine of hylomorphism. In this paper, I distinguish two strands of hylomorphism present in the contemporary literature and argue that not only does each engender unique conceptual difficulties, but neither adequately captures the (...)
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  14. Philosophical Letters of David K. Lewis: Volume 1: Causation, Modality, Ontology.Helen Beebee & A. R. J. Fisher (eds.) - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    The life-long correspondence of David K. Lewis, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, reveals the development, breadth, and depth of his philosophy in its historical context. The first of this two volume collection of letters focuses on his contributions to metaphysics, arguably where he made his greatest impact.
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  15. Précis Zu: Agents' Abilities.Romy Jaster - 2020 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 74 (3):443-447.
  16. Concepts of Objects as Prescribing Laws: A Kantian and Pragmatist Line of Thought.James O'Shea - 2016 - In Robert Stern and Gabriele Gava, eds., Pragmatism, Kant, and Transcendental Philosophy (London: Routledge): pp. 196–216. London, UK: pp. 196-216.
    Abstract: This paper traces a Kantian and pragmatist line of thinking that connects the ideas of conceptual content, object cognition, and modal constraints in the form of counterfactual sustaining causal laws. It is an idea that extends from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason through C. I. Lewis’s Mind and the World-Order to the Kantian naturalism of Wilfrid Sellars and the analytic pragmatism of Robert Brandom. Kant put forward what I characterize as a modal conception of objectivity, which he developed as (...)
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  17. Possibility in a Single World.Mark Ressler - manuscript
    In response to suspicions concerning the use of possible worlds in philosophy, this brief paper proposes an analysis of possibility that requires only a single world, using a combination of temporal logic and a potentiality operator.
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  18. Now, Imagine an Actually Existing Unicorn: On Russellian Worries for Modal Meinongianism.Andreas de Jong - 2020 - Axiomathes 31 (3):365-380.
    Modal Meinongianism provides the semantics of sentences involving intentional verbs Priest. To that end, Modal Meinongianism employs a pointed non-normal quantified modal logic model. Like earlier Meinongian views Modal Meinongianism has a characterisation principle, that claims that any condition whatsoever is satisfied by some object in some world. Recently, Everett has proposed an argument against QCP that, if successful, gives rise to problems identical to those Russell raised for Naïve Meinongianism, namely that it allows for true contradictions, and allows us (...)
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  19. Multipropositionalism and Necessary a Posteriori Identity Statements.Lenny Clapp & Armando Lavalle Terrón - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (4):902-934.
    We provide an account of necessary a posteriori identity statements that relies upon Perry’s multipropositionalism. On our account an utterance of, e.g., ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’, semantically makes available several propositions, one of which is necessary (and a priori) and another of which is a posteriori (and contingent). Since our view resembles two-dimensionalism, one might assume that it is undermined by the sorts of nesting arguments that Soames and others have raised against two-dimensionalism. We demonstrate, however, that our account is immune (...)
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  20. Subjunctive Conditionals Are Material.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    The material account claims that indicative conditionals are material. However, the conventional wisdom even among material account enthusiasts is that the material account cannot be extended to subjunctive conditionals. There are mainly three reasons that motivate this consensus: (1) the belief that if subjunctives were material, most subjunctive conditionals would be vacuously true, which is implausible; (2) its inconsistency with Adam pairs, which suggest that indicative and subjunctive conditionals have different truth conditions; and (3) the belief that it is an (...)
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  21. Necessitarianism and Dispositions.Simone Gozzano - 2020 - Metaphysica (1):1-23.
    In this paper, I argue in favor of necessitarianism, the view that dispositions, when stimulated, necessitate their manifestations. After introducing and clarifying what necessitarianism does and does not amount to, I provide reasons to support the view that dispositions once stimulated necessitate their manifestations according to the stimulating conditions and the relevant properties at stake. In this framework, I will propose a principle of causal relevance and some conditions for the possibility of interference that allow us to avoid the use (...)
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  22. Disappearing Diamonds: Fitch-Like Results in Bimodal Logic.Weng Kin San - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 48 (6):1003-1016.
    Augment the propositional language with two modal operators: □ and ■. Define ⧫ to be the dual of ■, i.e. ⧫=¬■¬. Whenever (X) is of the form φ → ψ, let (X⧫) be φ→⧫ψ . (X⧫) can be thought of as the modally qualified counterpart of (X)—for instance, under the metaphysical interpretation of ⧫, where (X) says φ implies ψ, (X⧫) says φ implies possibly ψ. This paper shows that for various interesting instances of (X), fairly weak assumptions suffice for (...)
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  23. Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität. [REVIEW]Jan Levin Propach - 2018 - Theologie Und Philosophie 93:269-272.
  24. Necessary Existence. By Alexander R. Pruss and Joshua L. Rasmussen. [REVIEW]Kenneth L. Pearce - 2019 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4):763-767.
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  25. Defining Basic Kinds of Properties.Jiri Raclavsky - 2007 - In Tomas Marvan & M. Zouhar (eds.), The World of Language and the World beyond Language (A Festschrift for Pavel Cmorej). Bratislava, Slovensko: pp. 69-107.
    This paper follows in Pavel Tichý’s concept of distinguishing between trivial (i.e. constant) and non-trivial properties. This classification has been extended by Pavel Cmorej who distinguished two kinds of non-trivial properties, namely purely empirical and partly essential (which are partly empirical) properties (partly essential property is essential for certain individual(s), but that it is not for other(s)). The present study provides rigorous formal definitions of trivial / non-trivial, essential / non-essential, and purely empirical / partly essential / purely essential properties (...)
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  26. The Dependence Problem: Theism, Counterpossibles, and Necessity.Richard Brian Davis - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    This dissertation explores various attempts to solve the Dependence Problem problem posed by the following question: How can necessary truths stand to God in a one-way relation of dependence, given that neither they nor God could have failed to exist?
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  27. Multiple Realizability and Biological Modality.Rami Koskinen - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1123-1133.
    Critics of multiple realizability have recently argued that we should concentrate solely on actual here-and-now realizations that are found in nature. The possibility of alternative, but unactualized, realizations is regarded as uninteresting because it is taken to be a question of pure logic or an unverifiable scenario of science fiction. However, in the biological context only a contingent set of realizations is actualized. Drawing on recent work on the theory of neutral biological spaces, the paper shows that we can have (...)
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  28. Necessity of Origins and Multi-Origin Art.Joshua Spencer & Chris Tillman - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (7):741-754.
    ABSTRACTThe Necessity of Origins is the thesis that, necessarily, if a material object wholly originates from some particular material, then it could not have wholly originated from any significantly non-overlapping material. Several philosophers have argued for this thesis using as a premise a principle that we call ‘Single Origin Necessity’. However, we argue that Single Origin Necessity is false. So any arguments for The Necessity of Origins that rely on Single Origin Necessity are unsound. We also argue that the Necessity (...)
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  29. Metaphysical Rationalism.Martin Lin - 2019 - In Charles Ramond & Jack Stetter (eds.), Spinoza in Twenty-First-Century American and French Philosophy: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Moral and Political Philosophy. London, UK: pp. 121-143.
    Material from this paper appears in Chap. 7 of my book Reason and Being, but there is also stuff here that isn't in the book. In particular, it discusses the claims that, for Spinoza, conceiving implies explaining and that existence is identical to or reducible to conceivability. So, if you're interested in those issues, this paper might be worth a read.
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  30. Hume, Causation and Counterfactuals.Joshua Anderson - 2019 - Humanites Bulletin 2 (1):36-49.
    What is offered here is an interpretation of Hume’s views on causation. While it might not be literally Hume’s view, it is certainly consistent with Hume, and is probably what Hume should say on causation, in light of recent developments in science and logic. As a way in, it is argued that the considerations that Hume brings against rationalist theories of causation can be applied to counterfactual theories of causation. Since, counterfactuals, possible worlds and modality were not ideas that would (...)
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  31. Collapsing the Modal Collapse Argument: On an Invalid Argument Against Divine Simplicity.Christopher Tomaszewski - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):275-284.
    One of the most pressing objections against Divine simplicity is that it entails what is commonly termed a ‘modal collapse’, wherein all contingency is eliminated and every true proposition is rendered necessarily true. In this paper, I show that a common form of this argument is in fact famously invalid and examine three ways in which the opponent of Divine simplicity might try to repair the argument. I conclude that there is no clear way of repairing the argument that does (...)
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  32. Kako razložiti modalnost?Danilo Šuster - 1992 - Filozofski Vestnik 13 (1).
    EXPLAINING MODALITY There are two sources of our modal intuitions which have to be explained - physical (natural) modality and metaphysical modality. The problem of explanation is presented as a dispute between modal realism and modal anti-realism. Traditional explanations of modalities are classified according to the strength of their anti-realism. They are unsuccessful because they are not able to show how to extract modal properties out of something which is ultimately non-modal. Even the thesis of supervenience - modal properties supervene (...)
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  33. Fähigkeiten und Dispositionen (Draft).Romy Jaster - manuscript
    In diesem Aufsatz argumentiere ich für eine teleologische Fähigkeitstheorie, derzufolge Fähigkeiten Dispositionen zu zweckmäßigem Handeln sind.
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  34. Modality and Explanatory Reasoning, by Boris Kment: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, Pp. Xii + 362, US$74. [REVIEW]Barry Ward - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):399-402.
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  35. Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds by Édouard Machery. [REVIEW]Jonathan Lewis - 2018 - Metapsychology 22 (48).
  36. Brute Facts.Elly Vintiadis & Constantinos Mekios (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Brute facts are facts that don't have explanations. They are instrumental in our attempts to give accounts of other facts or phenomena, and so they play a key role in many philosophers' views about the structure of the world. This volume explores neglected questions about the nature of brute facts and their explanatory role.
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  37. Still Going Strong.Kai von Fintel & Anthony S. Gillies - manuscript
    In "*Must* ...stay ...strong!" (von Fintel & Gillies 2010) we set out to slay a dragon, or rather what we called The Mantra: that epistemic *must* has a modal force weaker than expected from standard modal logic, that it doesn't entail its prejacent, and that the best explanation for the evidential feel of *must* is a pragmatic explanation. We argued that all three sub-mantras are wrong and offered an explanation according to which *must* is strong, entailing, and the felt indirectness (...)
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  38. Facts in Logical Space: A Tractarian Ontology Jason Turner Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016; 362 Pp.; $85.00. [REVIEW]John Beverley - 2018 - Dialogue 57 (3):637-639.
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  39. A Critical Introduction to Properties.Sophie R. Allen - 2016 - London, UK: Bloomsbury.
    What determines qualitative sameness and difference? This book explores four principal accounts of the ontological basis of properties, including universals, trope theory, resemblance nominalism, and class nominalism, considering the assumptions and ontolological commitments which are required to make each into a plausible account of properties. -/- The latter half of the book investigates the applications of property theory and the different conceptions of properties which might be adopted with these in mind: first, the possibility and desirability of individuating properties, and (...)
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  40. An Introduction to Real Possibilities, Indeterminism, and Free Will: Three Contingencies of the Debate.Thomas Müller, Antje Rumberg & Verena Wagner - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):1-10.
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  41. Being Someone Else.Martin Glazier - forthcoming - In Enoch Lambert & John Schwenkler (eds.), Becoming Someone New: Essays on Transformative Experience, Choice, and Change. Oxford, UK:
    Could I have been someone other than who I am? Philosophers from Williams to Nagel to Lewis have been tempted to answer 'yes', but how can we make sense of such a view? I argue that to say that it is contingent who I am is to say that it is contingent what perspective I have, in a distinctively metaphysical sense of perspective.
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  42. Macroscopic Metaphysics: Middle-Sized Objects and Longish Processes.Paul Needham - 2017 - Springer.
    This book is about matter. It involves our ordinary concept of matter in so far as this deals with enduring continuants that stand in contrast to the occurrents or processes in which they are involved, and concerns the macroscopic realm of middle-sized objects of the kind familiar to us on the surface of the earth and their participation in medium term processes. The emphasis will be on what science rather than philosophical intuition tells us about the world, and on chemistry (...)
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  43. The Emergence of the Concept in Hegel's Science of Logic.Victoria I. Burke - 2018 - Review of Metaphysics 72 (1):101-121.
    In this article, I will chart the development of G.W.F. Hegel’s ‘concept [Begriff]’ in the Science of Logic. I show that Hegel could not arrive at the concept until the end of Book II, after his treatment of the categories of modality, especially contingency.
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  44. Does Eternity Have A Future?Yitzhak Melamed - 2018 - The Philosophers' Magazine 81:40-44.
    Metaphysics as an independent discipline has a surprisingly short history. Until the early eighteenth century, many, perhaps even most, writers on “metaphysics” primarily had the eponymous work of Aristotle in mind. In the writings of the early eighteenth-century German rationalists—Christian Wolff and Alexander Baumgarten—we find a conception of metaphysics that is no longer necessarily tied to Aristotle’s great work. But metaphysics as a discipline was not blessed with longevity, as a dozen years or so before Louis XVI it was condemned (...)
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  45. Causal Relevance, Permissible Omissions, and Famine Relief.Chad Vance - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (1):25-47.
    Failures are sometimes, but not always, causally relevant to events. For instance, the failure of the sprinkler was causally relevant to the house fire. However, the failure of the dam upstream to break (thus inundating the house with water) was not. Similarly, failures to prevent harms are sometimes, but not always, morally wrong. For instance, failing to save a nearby drowning child is morally wrong. Yet, you are also in some sense “allowing” someone on another continent to drown right now, (...)
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  46. A Modal Account of Propositions.Andy Demfree Yu - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (4):463-488.
    In this paper, I motivate a modal account of propositions on the basis of an iterative conception of propositions. As an application, I suggest that the account provides a satisfying solution to the Russell-Myhill paradox. The account is in the spirit of recently developed modal accounts of sets motivated on the basis of the iterative conception of sets.
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  47. Truth, Syntax, and Modality: Proceedings Of The Temple University Conference On Alternative Semantlcs.Hugues Leblanc (ed.) - 1973 - North-Holland Publishing Company.
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  48. Kant on the Necessity of Causal Relations.Toni Kannisto - 2017 - Kant-Studien 108 (4):495-516.
    There are two traditional ways to read Kant's claim that every event necessarily has a cause: the weaker every-event some-cause and the stronger same-cause same-effect causal principles. The focus of the debate about whether and where he subscribes to the SCP has been in the Analogies in the Critique of Pure Reason and in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. By analysing the arguments and conclusions of both the Analogies and the Postulates as well as the two Latin principles non (...)
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  49. Modal Set Theory.Christopher Menzel - forthcoming - In Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. London and New York: Routledge.
    This article presents an overview of the basic philosophical motivations for, and some recent work in, modal set theory.
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  50. Morality Constrains the Default Representation of What is Possible.Jonathan Phillips & Fiery Cushman - 2017 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (18):4649-4654.
    The capacity for representing and reasoning over sets of possibilities, or modal cognition, supports diverse kinds of high-level judgments: causal reasoning, moral judgment, language comprehension, and more. Prior research on modal cognition asks how humans explicitly and deliberatively reason about what is possible but has not investigated whether or how people have a default, implicit representation of which events are possible. We present three studies that characterize the role of implicit representations of possibility in cognition. Collectively, these studies differentiate explicit (...)
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