Against relationalism about modality

Philosophical Studies 180 (8):2245-2274 (2023)
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On a highly influential way to think of modality, that I call ‘relationalism’, the modality of a state is explained by its being composed of properties, and these properties being related by a higher-order and primitively modal relation. Examples of relationalism are the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong account of natural necessity, many dispositional essentialist views, and Wang’s incompatibility primitivism. I argue that relationalism faces four difficulties: that the selection between modal relations is arbitrary, that the modal relation cannot belong to any logical order, that to explain how the modal relation can relate properties of different adicities additional ideological complexity has to be introduced, and that not all modal constraints are relational. From the discussion, I will extract desiderata for a successor theory of modality.

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Carlos Romero
Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

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Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties.Alexander Bird - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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