Understanding, Modality, Logical Operators [Book Review]
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):472 - 480 (2011)
where F is a contradiction (I use his numbering). Tim says about these equivalences: (1) “modulo the implicit recognition of this equivalence, the epistemology of metaphysically modal thinking is a special case of the epistemology of counterfactual thinking. Whoever has what it takes to understand the counterfactual conditional and the elementary logical auxiliaries ~ and F has what it takes to understand possibility and necessity operators.” (158) (2) The idea that we evaluate metaphysically modal claims “by some quite different means [from those we use to evaluate counterfactuals – CP] is highly fanciful, since it indicates a bizarre lack of cognitive economy and has no plausible explanation of where the alternative cognitive resources might come from” (162) (3) “the capacity to handle metaphysical modality is an “accidental” byproduct of the cognitive mechanisms that provide our capacity to handle counterfactual conditionals” (162). The biconditional corresponding to a proposed definition of a concept C may be necessary and a priori. But that leaves open these questions: (1) Does the definition contribute to an explanation of why what are in fact truths containing C are true? (The Explanation Question) (2) Does the definition contribute to an explanation of our knowledge of certain contents containing C? (Epistemic Question) (3) Does the definition contribute to an explanation of our understanding or grasp of contents containing C? (Understanding Question) I argue that applied to (17) and (18), considered as definitions, the answers to these three..
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