This category needs an editor. We encourage you to help if you are qualified.
Volunteer, or read more about what this involves.
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 2002, 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.
Related categories

3259 found
1 — 50 / 3259
Material to categorize
  1. Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds by Édouard Machery. [REVIEW]Jonathan Lewis - 2018 - Metapsychology 22 (48).
  2. Abilities.Romy Jaster - forthcoming - Berlin, New York: deGruyter.
  3. 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 (...)
  4. Collapsing the Modal Collapse Argument: On an Invalid Argument Against Divine Simplicity.Christopher Tomaszewski - forthcoming - Analysis:any052.
    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 (...)
  5. 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 (...)
  6. An Introduction to Real Possibilities, Indeterminism, and Free Will: Three Contingencies of the Debate.Thomas Müller, Antje Rumberg & Verena Wagner - forthcoming - Synthese:1-10.
    No categories
  7. 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.
  8. 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 (...)
  9. Necessity of Origins and Multi-Origin Art.Joshua Spencer & Chris Tillman - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    The 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 (...)
  10. The Emergence of the Concept in Hegel's Science of Logic.Victoria I. Burke - 2018 - Review of Metaphysics 72:101-121.
    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. -/- .
  11. 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 (...)
  12. 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, (...)
  13. 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.
  14. 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 (...)
  15. 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.
  16. 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 (...)
  17. Johanssonian Investigations. Essays in Honour of Ingvar Johansson on His Seventieth Birthday.Christer Svennerlind, Almäng Jan & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.) - 2013 - Ontos Verlag.
    During the last decades, Ingvar Johansson has made a formidable contribution to the development of philosophy in general and perhaps especially to the development of metaphysics. This volume consists of original papers written by 50 philosophers from all over the world in honour of Ingvar Johansson to celebrate his 70th birthday. The papers cover traditional issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, applied ethics and applied metaphysics, the nature of human rights, the philosophy of economics and sports. Some of (...)
  18. Modality, Morality and Belief: Essays in Honour of Ruth Barcan Marcus. [REVIEW]Daniel Nolan - 1998 - Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191):253-255.
  19. The Possibilities of History.Daniel Nolan - 2016 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 10 (3):441-456.
    _ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 441 - 456 Several kinds of historical alternatives are distinguished. Different kinds of historical alternatives are valuable to the practice of history for different reasons. Important uses for historical alternatives include representing different sides of historical disputes; distributing chances of different outcomes over alternatives; and offering explanations of why various alternatives did _not_ in fact happen. Consideration of counterfactuals about what would have happened had things been different in particular ways plays particularly useful (...)
  20. 15. Modal Aesthetics.Jordi Claramonte - 2016 - In Roberto Poli & Keith Peterson (eds.), New Research on the Philosophy of Nicolai Hartmann. De Gruyter. pp. 283-296.
  21. Modality and Explanatory Reasoning By Boris Kment.Boris Kment - forthcoming - Analysis:anw067.
  22. Modal Thinking.Roger Wertheimer & Alan R. White - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (2):251.
  23. Time and Modality.K. Jaakko, J. Hintikka & A. N. Prior - 1958 - Philosophical Review 67 (3):401.
  24. How Many Meanings for ‘May’? The Case for Modal Polysemy.Emanuel Viebahn & Barbara Vetter - 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 (...)
  25. Aristotle on Necessities and Needs.Soran Reader - 2005 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 57:113-136.
  26. Two Concepts of Modality.Alvin Plantinga - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (11):693-693.
  27. Problems About Material and Formal Modes in the Necessity of Identity.Lawrence D. Roberts - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (10):562.
  28. Possibility.A. E. M., George P. Adams, J. Loewenberg & Stephen C. Pepper - 1935 - Journal of Philosophy 32 (16):437.
  29. Kantian Modality.Tom Baldwin - 2002 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 76 (1):1-24.
  30. On the Possibility of Thermoelectric Refrigeration at Very Low Temperatures.F. J. Blatt - 1962 - Philosophical Magazine 7 (76):715-718.
  31. 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.
  32. II—Modality and Tautology.Peter Long - 1960 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60 (1):27-60.
  33. IX—May Can-Statements Be Analysed Deterministically?A. C. Ewing - 1964 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 64 (1):157-176.
  34. VIII-The Analysis of Possibility and the Possibility of Analysis.John Divers - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (2):141-160.
  35. Sir Matthew Hale and the 'Method' of Invention.Margaret T. Hodgen - 1943 - Isis 34 (4):313-318.
  36. George Ellery Hale: The Scientist Afield.Frederick H. Seares - 1939 - Isis 30 (2):241-267.
  37. Modality, Mood, and Change of Modal Meanings: A New Perspective.Heiko Narrog - 2005 - Cognitive Linguistics 16 (4).
  38. Nominalizations: The Case of Nominalizations of Modal Predicates.Friederike Moltmann - forthcoming - In Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullman & Thomas Ede Zimmermann (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.
  39. 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 (...)
  40. 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 (...)
  41. Modality and Explanatory Reasoning, by Boris Kment.Barry Ward - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):399-402.
  42. 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 (...)
  43. 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 (...)
  44. Contraddizione, pensabilità, impossibilità.Venanzio Raspa - 2015 - In P. Di Lucia & S. Colloca (eds.), L’impossibilità normativa. LED. pp. 127-148.
  45. 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 (...)
  46. 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 (...)
  47. Modal Integration.Scott A. Shalkowski - 2012 - Philosophia Scientae 16:85-98.
  48. 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 (...)
  49. Possibility.SørenHG Kierkegaard - 2014 - In The Quotable Kierkegaard. Princeton University Press. pp. 92-94.
  50. 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 (...)
1 — 50 / 3259