Modality

Abstract

Modal statements are about what could have been: Hitler could have won World War II; I could have been a fisherman; The speed of light could have been twice as fast as it actually is; Swans could have been black; It’s impossible for there to be round squares; Necessarily, 2+2=4. Modal statements also include counterfactual statements: Scientific: If the speed of light were faster, atomic explosions would be more deadly; Ethical: If you hadn’t have made the deceased play on the motorway, he would’ve lived; Everyday: If I hadn’t have gone out last I wouldn’t have a hangover. Modal statements can cover a variety of different types of modality: Logical Possibility: It’s logically possible for me to grow wings and fly to New York; Physical Possibility: It’s physically impossible to grow wings and fly to New York; Economic Possibility: It’s impossible for me to fly to New York.

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