What Is Absolute Modality?

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (2023)
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Abstract

Talk of metaphysical modality as “absolute” is ambiguous, as it appears to convey multiple ideas. Metaphysical possibility is supposedly completely unrestricted or unqualified; metaphysical necessity is unconditional and exceptionless. Moreover, metaphysical modality is thought to be absolute in the sense that it’s real or genuine and the most objective modality: metaphysical possibility and necessity capture ways things could and must have really been. As we disentangle these ideas, certain talk of metaphysical modality qua “absolute” turns out to be misguided. Metaphysical possibility isn't completely unrestricted or most inclusive compared to the other modalities; metaphysical necessity, like all kinds of necessities, is relative to or conditional upon a specific framework of reference. Still, metaphysical modality captures how things could and must have really been most generally because it deals with reality and the nature of things or their essence. That’s the chief interest of metaphysics. Arguments against the alleged absoluteness of metaphysical modality may not thereby undermine its philosophical significance.

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Antonella Mallozzi
Providence College

Citations of this work

The deep incoherence of strong necessities.Harry Cleeveley - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Essence and modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.

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