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. How to Project a Socially Constructed Sexual Orientation.Peter Finocchiaro - 2021 - Journal of Social Ontology 7 (2):173-203.
    Was bisexuality a widespread feature of ancient Greek society? This question is an instance of cross-cultural projection -- of taking the means through which people are categorized in one culture and applying it to members of another. It’s widely held by those who think that sexual orientation is socially constructed that its projection poses a problem. In this paper, I offer a more careful analysis of this alleged problem. To analyze projection, I adapt Iris Einheuser’s substratum-carving model of conventionalism to (...)
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  2. A Linguistic Framework for Knowledge, Belief, and Veridicality Judgement.Anastasia Giannakidou & Alda Mari - manuscript
  3. Précis Zu: Agents' Abilities.Romy Jaster - 2020 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 74 (3):443-447.
  4. 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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  5. Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds by Édouard Machery. [REVIEW]Jonathan Lewis - 2018 - Metapsychology 22 (48).
  6. 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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  7. How Many Meanings for ‘May’? The Case for Modal Polysemy.Barbara Vetter & Emanuel Viebahn - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16.
    The standard Kratzerian analysis of modal auxiliaries, such as ‘may’ and ‘can’, takes them to be univocal and context-sensitive. Our first aim is to argue for an alternative view, on which such expressions are polysemous. Our second aim is to thereby shed light on the distinction between semantic context-sensitivity and polysemy. To achieve these aims, we examine the mechanisms of polysemy and context-sensitivity and provide criteria with which they can be held apart. We apply the criteria to modal auxiliaries and (...)
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  8. Aristotle on Necessities and Needs.Soran Reader - 2005 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 57:113-136.
    Aristotle’s account of human needs is valuable because it describes the connections between logical, metaphysical, physical, human and ethical necessities. But Aristotle does not fully draw out the implications of the account of necessity for needs and virtue. The proper Aristotelian conclusion is that, far from being an inferior activity fit only for slaves, meeting needs is the first part of Aristotelian virtue.
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  9. Logical Atoms and Combinatorial Possibility.Brian Skyrms - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (5):219-232.
  10. Problems About Material and Formal Modes in the Necessity of Identity.Lawrence D. Roberts - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (10):562.
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  11. Possibility. [REVIEW]A. E. M. - 1935 - Journal of Philosophy 32 (16):437.
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  12. Kantian Modality.Tom Baldwin - 2002 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 76 (1):1-24.
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  13. On the Possibility of Thermoelectric Refrigeration at Very Low Temperatures.F. J. Blatt - 1962 - Philosophical Magazine 7 (76):715-718.
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  14. On the Possibility of Thermoelectric Refrigeration at Very Low Temperatures.D. K. C. Macdonald, E. Mooser, W. B. Pearson, I. M. Templeton & S. B. Woods - 1959 - Philosophical Magazine 4 (40):433-446.
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  15. II—Modality and Tautology.Peter Long - 1960 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60 (1):27-60.
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  16. IX—May Can-Statements Be Analysed Deterministically?A. C. Ewing - 1964 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 64 (1):157-176.
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  17. VIII-The Analysis of Possibility and the Possibility of Analysis.John Divers - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (2):141-160.
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  18. Sir Matthew Hale and the 'Method' of Invention.Margaret T. Hodgen - 1943 - Isis 34 (4):313-318.
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  19. George Ellery Hale: The Scientist Afield.Frederick H. Seares - 1939 - Isis 30 (2):241-267.
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  20. Modality, Mood, and Change of Modal Meanings: A New Perspective.Heiko Narrog - 2005 - Cognitive Linguistics 16 (4).
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  21. Nominalizations: The Case of Nominalizations of Modal Predicates.Friederike Moltmann - forthcoming - In Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullman, Thomas Ede Zimmermann & Daniel Gutzmann (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Semantics. Wiley.
    Nominalizations of modal predicates have received little, if any, attention in the semantic or philosophical literature. This paper will argue that nominalizations of modal predicates require recognizing a novel ontological category of modal objects and it will outline a new semantics of modals based on modal objects.
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  22. Thinking the Impossible: Counterfactual Conditionals, Impossible Cases, and Thought Experiments.Poonam Dohutia - unknown
    In this thesis I present an account of the formal semantics of counterfactuals that systematically deals with impossible antecedents. This, in turn, allows us to gain a richer understanding of what makes certain thought experiments informative in spite of the impossibility of the situations they consider. In Chapter II, I argue that there are major shortcomings in the leading theories of counterfactuals. The leading theories of counterfactuals are unable to account for counterfactuals with impossible antecedents. In such accounts, everything and (...)
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  23. Meta-Ontology, Epistemology & Essence: On the Empirical Deduction of the Categories.Fraser MacBride & Frederique Janssen-Lauret - 2015 - The Monist 98 (3):290-302.
    A priori reflection, common sense and intuition have proved unreliable sources of information about the world outside of us. So the justification for a theory of the categories must derive from the empirical support of the scientific theories whose descriptions it unifies and clarifies. We don’t have reliable information about the de re modal profiles of external things either because the overwhelming proportion of our knowledge of the external world is theoretical—knowledge by description rather than knowledge by acquaintance. This undermines (...)
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  24. The Principle of Sufficient Reason Defended: There Is No Conjunction of All Contingently True Propositions.Christopher M. P. Tomaszewski - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (1):267-274.
    Toward the end of his classic treatise An Essay on Free Will, Peter van Inwagen offers a modal argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason which he argues shows that the principle “collapses all modal distinctions.” In this paper, a critical flaw in this argument is shown to lie in van Inwagen’s beginning assumption that there is such a thing as the conjunction of all contingently true propositions. This is shown to follow from Cantor’s theorem and a property of conjunction (...)
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  25. Modality Across Syntactic Categories.Ana Arregui, María Luisa Rivero & Andrés Salanova (eds.) - 2017 - Oxford University Press UK.
    This volume explores the linguistic expression of modality in natural language from a cross-linguistic perspective. Modal expressions provide the basic tools that allow us to dissociate what we say from what is actually going on, allowing us to talk about what might happen or might have happened, as well as what is required, desirable, or permitted. Chapters in the book demonstrate that modality involves many more syntactic categories and levels of syntactic structure than traditionally assumed. The volume distinguishes between three (...)
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  26. Contraddizione, pensabilità, impossibilità.Venanzio Raspa - 2015 - In P. Di Lucia & S. Colloca (eds.), L’impossibilità normativa. LED. pp. 127-148.
  27. Contingent Facts: A Reply to Cresswell and Rini.D. H. Mellor - 2011 - Analysis 71 (1):62-68.
    My 1998: 78–81 contains an argument against tensed facts, like the fact that it’s raining now, which exist at some times like 1 January 2010 and not others. ‘Facts’ here means truthmakers, not facts in the trivial sense defined by the equivalence principle EP: For all P, P is a fact iff the proposition ‘P’ is true, in which no one can deny the existence of tensed facts. The argument, which I’ll call TA, may be summarized as follows, where a (...)
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  28. Contingent Facts: Comments on Mellor's Reply.M. J. Cresswell & A. A. Rini - 2011 - Analysis 71 (1):69-72.
    As a first comment it should not be taken that we have any argument against the consistency of Mellor’s actualist version of the B-theory. Not only have we no argument; we hold that Mellor’s position is consistent. As far as logic goes we believe that you can translate A into B, and B into A. Mellor takes a quotation from our article as endorsing the policy of doing for time just what you do for modality, and vice versa, and it (...)
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  29. Modal Integration.Scott A. Shalkowski - 2012 - Philosophia Scientae 16:85-98.
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  30. The Greatest Possible Being Needn't Be Anything Impossible.Patrick Todd - 2015 - Religious Studies 51 (4):531-542.
    There are various argumentative strategies for advancing the claim that God does not exist. One such strategy is this. First, one notes that God is meant to have a certain divine attribute (such as omniscience). One then argues that having the relevant attribute is impossible. One concludes that God doesn't exist. For instance, Dennis Whitcomb's recent paper, ‘Grounding and omniscience’, proceeds in exactly this way. As Whitcomb says, ‘I'm going to argue that omniscience is impossible and that therefore there is (...)
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  31. Possibility.SørenHG Kierkegaard - 2014 - In The Quotable Kierkegaard. Princeton University Press. pp. 92-94.
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  32. A Less Simplistic Metaphysics: Peirce’s Layered Theory of Meaning as a Layered Theory of Being.Marc Champagne - 2015 - Sign Systems Studies 43 (4):523–552.
    This article builds on C. S. Peirce’s suggestive blueprint for an inclusive outlook that grants reality to his three categories. Moving away from the usual focus on (contentious) cosmological forces, I use a modal principle to partition various ontological layers: regular sign-action (like coded language) subsumes actual sign-action (like here-and-now events) which in turn subsumes possible sign-action (like qualities related to whatever would be similar to them). Once we realize that the triadic sign’s components are each answerable to this asymmetric (...)
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  33. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment.Alexander R. Pruss - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.
    The Principle of Sufficient Reason says that all contingent facts must have explanation. In this 2006 volume, which was the first on the topic in the English language in nearly half a century, Alexander Pruss examines the substantive philosophical issues raised by the Principle Reason. Discussing various forms of the PSR and selected historical episodes, from Parmenides, Leibnez, and Hume, Pruss defends the claim that every true contingent proposition must have an explanation against major objections, including Hume's imaginability argument and (...)
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  34. Modal Ontologic.Marek Magdziak - 2014 - Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia 9.
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  35. Précis of Modality and Explanatory Reasoning.Boris Kment - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):489-498.
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  36. Comments on Kment's Modality and Explanatory Reasoning.Marc Lange - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):508-515.
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  37. Modal Monogamy.C. S. I. Jenkins - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2.
  38. What a Structuralist Theory of Properties Could Not Be.Nora Berenstain - 2016 - In Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (ed.), The Metaphysics of Relations. OUP. Oxford University Press.
    Causal structuralism is the view that, for each natural, non-mathematical, non-Cambridge property, there is a causal profile that exhausts its individual essence. On this view, having a property’s causal profile is both necessary and sufficient for being that property. It is generally contrasted with the Humean or quidditistic view of properties, which states that having a property’s causal profile is neither necessary nor sufficient for being that property, and with the double-aspect view, which states that causal profile is necessary but (...)
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  39. Review of 'Necessary Beings' by Bob Hale. [REVIEW]Katherine Jane Hawley - unknown
    Review of Necessary Beings: An Essay on Ontology, Modality, & the Relations Between Them. By Bob Hale. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 320, £40. ISBN: 978-0-19-966957-8.
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  40. Modal Oecumenism.M. Sullivan - 2015 - Analysis 75 (2):271-283.
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  41. 5. Modal Realism, Modal Rationalism, Modal Naturalism.Robert Stalnaker - 2012 - In Mere Possibilities: Metaphysical Foundations of Modal Semantics. Princeton University Press. pp. 126-135.
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  42. Kapitel 4: Modal-Existentielle Abhängigkeit.Benjamin Schnieder - 2004 - In Substanzen Und Eigenschaften: Eine Studie Zur Analytischen Ontologie. De Gruyter. pp. 257-294.
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  43. Partiality, Modality, and Nonmonotonicity.Patrick A. Doherty - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
    This edited volume of articles provides a state-of-the-art description of research in logic-based approaches to knowledge representation which combines approaches to reasoning with incomplete information that include partial, modal, and nonmonotonic logics. The collection contains two parts: foundations and case studies. The foundations section provides a general overview of partiality, multi-valued logics, use of modal logic to model partiality and resource-limited inference, and an integration of partial and modal logics. The case studies section provides specific studies of issues raised in (...)
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  44. Mathematics of Modality.Robert Goldblatt - 1993 - Center for the Study of Language and Information Publications.
    Modal logic is the study of modalities - expressions that qualify assertions about the truth of statements - like the ordinary language phrases necessarily, possibly, it is known/believed/ought to be, etc., and computationally or mathematically motivated expressions like provably, at the next state, or after the computation terminates. The study of modalities dates from antiquity, but has been most actively pursued in the last three decades, since the introduction of the methods of Kripke semantics, and now impacts on a wide (...)
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  45. Modal Reality.Hamid Vahiddastjerdi - 1991
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  46. Our Knowledge and Metaphysical Possibilities.Quentin Smith - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 19.
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  47. Models and Modality.Stephen Downes - unknown - Eidos: The Canadian Graduate Journal of Philosophy 6.
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  48. Bressan and Suppes on Modality.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1972 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1972:323-330.
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  49. On the Possibility of a Better World.H. B. Townsend - 1936 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 10:132.
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  50. Modality and Logical Form.Donald Royal Riggs - 1980 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    According to the hypothesis a modal qualification is essentially context-relative to kinds of factors which pertain to a speaker's right to say something. This idea is used to explain the distinctive communicative utility of our modal idiom. Furthermore, it is the basis of an explanation of the referential opacity of alethic modality. Opacity is a manifestation of the operation of two kinds of discursive principles which figure prominently in the correctness of a modal judgement, according to our account of the (...)
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