Ability, modality, and genericity

Philosophical Studies 175 (2):411-428 (2018)
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Abstract

Accounts of ability in the philosophical literature have tended to be modal ones: claims about an agent’s abilities are understood in terms of what she does in certain non-actual scenarios. In contrast, a prominent account of ability ascriptions in the recent semantics literature appeals to genericity: claims about an agent’s abilities are understood in terms of what she generally manages to do. The latter account resolves some long-standing problems for modal accounts, but encounters problems of its own. I propose a hybrid view, on which ability involves both a modal and a generic element.

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John T. Maier
Bentley University

Citations of this work

Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
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Arguments for Incompatibilism.Kadri Vihvelin - 2003/2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Agentive Free Choice.Melissa Fusco - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-31.
Agential Free Choice.Melissa Fusco - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (1):57-87.

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References found in this work

Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic.Saul A. Kripke - 1963 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 16:83-94.
The Logical Form of Action Sentences.Donald Davidson - 1967 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 81--95.
Agency and Deontic Logic.John F. Horty - 2001 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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