Mind 106 (423):521-574 (1997)

Authors
Christopher Peacocke
Columbia University
Abstract
This paper presents an account of the understanding of statements involving metaphysical modality, together with dovetailing theories of their truth conditions and epistemology. The account makes modal truth an objective matter, whilst avoiding both Lewisian modal realism and mind-dependent or expressivist treatments of the truth conditions of modal sentences. The theory proceeds by formulating constraints a world-description must meet if it is to represent a genuine possibility. Modal truth is fixed by the totality of the constraints. To understand modal discourse is to have tacit knowledge of the body of information stated in these constraints. Modal knowledge is attained by evaluating modal statements in accordance with the constraints. The question of the general relations between modal truth and knowability is also addressed. The paper includes a discussion of which modal logic is supported by the presented theory of truth conditions for modal statements.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/106.423.521
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