Amie Thomasson
Dartmouth College
Despite the otherwise-dominant trends towards physicalism and naturalism in philosophy, it has become increasingly common for metaphysicians to accept the existence either of modal facts and properties, or of Lewisian possible worlds. This paper raises the historical question: why did these heavyweight realist views come into prominence? The answer is that they have arisen in response to the demand to find truthmakers for our modal statements. But this demand presupposes that modal statements are descriptive claims in need of truthmakers. This presupposition was, however, rejected by many earlier analytic philosophers, including the logical positivists, Wittgenstein, Ryle and Sellars, all of whom denied that modal statement were descriptive at all. Yet the non-descriptivist approach has largely fallen out of discussion and out of philosophical consciousness. In this paper I examine why non-descriptivist views first came into and then fell out of favor, and consider what the prospects are for reviving this more deflationary approach to modality
Keywords modalities, descriptivism, truth-makers
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2008, 2009
DOI 10.4148/biyclc.v4i0.132
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,417
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Hutchinson & Co.
Language, Truth and Logic.A. J. Ayer - 1936 - London: V. Gollancz.
On the Plurality of Worlds.Allen Stairs - 1988 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (2):333-352.
Analyticity Reconsidered.Paul Boghossian - 1996 - Noûs 30 (3):360-391.

View all 42 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Norms and Necessity.Amie L. Thomasson - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):143-160.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Descriptivism, Rigidified and Anchored.Philip Pettit - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (1-2):323-338.
Against Causal Descriptivism.Panu Raatikainen - 2006 - Mind and Society 5 (1):78-84.
Rigidification and Attitudes.Bryan Pickel - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (1):43-58.
Millian Descriptivism.Ben Caplan - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (2):181-198.
Kripke’s Epistemic Argument Against Descriptivism Revisited.Bo Chen - 2013 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (3-4):544-562.
Epistemic Two-Dimensionalism and the Epistemic Argument.Jeff Speaks - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):59 – 78.
Desires, Descriptivism, and Reference Failure.Alexander Hughes - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):279-296.
Descriptivism, Scope, and Apparently Empty Names.Andrew Cullison & Ben Caplan - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):283-288.
A Role for Normativism.Igor Douven - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (5):252-253.


Added to PP index

Total views
209 ( #49,167 of 2,449,127 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #176,938 of 2,449,127 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes