In Erik Weber Tim De Mey (ed.), Modal Epistemology (2004)

Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University
Modal inquiry is plagued by methodological problems. The best-developed views on modal semantics and modal ontology take modalstatements to be true in virtue of relations between possible worlds. Unfortunately, such views turn modal epistemology into a mystery, and this paper is about ways to avoid that problem. It looks at different remedies suggested by Quine, Blackburn and Peacocke and finds them all wanting. But although Peacocke’s version of the popular conceptualist approach fails to give a normative account of correct modal judgments, it goes a long way in suggesting how we come to make particular judgments of absolute necessity. Building on that suggestion, the paper explains how conceptualism can be transformed into a radically naturalist account of correct modal judgment that fits into a more general approach to naturalized semantics, represented by the writings of Richard Boyd and Ruth Millikan, and suggests some lessons for modal epistemology
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