Many important metaphysical arguments validly deduce an actuality from a possibility. For example: Because it is possible for me to exist in the absence of anything material, I am not my body. I argue that there is no reason to suppose that our capacity for modal judgment is equal to the task of determining whether the "possibility" premise of any of these arguments is true. I connect this thesis with Stephen Yablo's recent work on the epistemology of modal (...) statements. (shrink)
In this paper I will offer a novel understanding of a priori knowledge. My claim is that the sharp distinction that is usually made between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is groundless. It will be argued that a plausible understanding of a priori and a posteriori knowledge has to acknowledge that they are in a constant bootstrapping relationship. It is also crucial that we distinguish between a priori propositions that hold in the actual world and merely possible, non-actual a (...) priori propositions, as we will see when considering cases like Euclidean geometry. Furthermore, contrary to what Kripke seems to suggest, a priori knowledge is intimately connected with metaphysical modality, indeed, grounded in it. The task of a priori reasoning, according to this account, is to delimit the space of metaphysically possible worlds in order for us to be able to determine what is actual. (shrink)
The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. In the Introduction (penultimate draft available for download), I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the (...) present debates. Next, I focus on four features that largely characterize the latest literature, and the papers in the present collection in particular: (i) an endorsement of the importance of essentialism; (ii) a shift to a “metaphysics-first” approach to modal epistemology; (iii) a focus on metaphysical modality as opposed to other kinds of modality; and (iv) a preference for non-uniform modal epistemology. Then I turn to present the individual papers in the volume, which are organized based on their topic around the following four chapters: (A) Skepticism & Deflationism; (B) Essentialism; (C) Non-Essentialist Accounts; (D) Applications. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS: Francesco Berto; Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson; Justin Clark-Doane; Philip Goff; Bob Hale; Frank Jackson; Mark Jago; Boris Kment; Antonella Mallozzi; Graham Priest; Gabriel Rabin; Amie Thomasson; Anand Vaidya & Michael Wallner; Jennifer Wang. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Bob Hale. (shrink)
The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain how we might account for our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. Collectively, they advance our understanding of the field. In Part I of this Introduction, I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main (...) tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the present debates. Next, I focus on four features that largely characterize the latest literature, and the papers in the present collection in particular: (i) an endorsement of the importance of essentialism; (ii) a shift to a “metaphysics-first” approach to modal epistemology; (iii) a focus on metaphysical modality as opposed to other kinds of modality; and (iv) a preference for non-uniform modal epistemology. In Part II, I present the individual papers in the volume. These are organized around the following four chapters, based on their topic: (A) Skepticism & Deflationism; (B) Essentialism; (C) Non-Essentialist Accounts; (D) Applications. -/- LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS: Francesco Berto; Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson; Justin Clark-Doane; Philip Goff; Bob Hale; Frank Jackson; Mark Jago; Boris Kment; Antonella Mallozzi; Graham Priest; Gabriel Rabin; Amie Thomasson; Anand Vaidya & Michael Wallner; Jennifer Wang. -/- The volume is dedicated to the memory of Bob Hale. -/- . (shrink)
I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways in (...) which these authors respond to the problem, including the use of two-dimensional modal semantics. Conventionalism about modality offers a complementary approach to modal epistemology, prompting us to identify our knowledge of modal truths with our mastery of linguistic or conceptual conventions. Finally, I discuss an approach to modal epistemology deriving from David Lewis's work that seeks to identify structural features of the modal space over which necessity and possibility are defined. (shrink)
Some central epistemological notions are expressed by sentential operators O that entail the possibility of knowledge in the sense that 'Op' entails 'It is possible to know that p'. We call these modal-epistemological notions. Using apriority and being in a position to know as case studies, we argue that the logics of modal epistemological notions are extremely weak. In particular, their logics are not normal and do not include any closure principles.
This article discusses the role of a priori and a posteriori knowledge and methods in metaphysics and metametaphysics. Issues discussed include the viability of the distinction, the continuity of a priori and a posteriori methods, connections to modal epistemology, and the role of the distinction for science and naturalistic metaphysics.
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what (...) is possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (shrink)
In this article, I discuss Hawthorne's contextualist solution to Benacerraf's dilemma. He wants to find a satisfactory epistemology to go with realist ontology, namely with causally inaccessible mathematical and modal entities. I claim that he is unsuccessful. The contextualist theories of knowledge attributions were primarily developed as a response to the skeptical argument based on the deductive closure principle. Hawthorne uses the same strategy in his attempt to solve the epistemologist puzzle facing the proponents of mathematical and modal realism, but (...) this problem is of a different nature than the skeptical one. The contextualist theory of knowledge attributions cannot help us with the question about the nature of mathematical and modal reality and how they can be known. I further argue that Hawthorne's account does not say anything about a priori status of mathematical and modal knowledge. Later, Hawthorne adds to his account an implausible claim that in some contexts a gettierized belief counts as knowledge. (shrink)
Accounting for our knowledge of de re modalities is probably the main reason why the proponents of modal empiricism think that their view should be preferred to modal rationalism. In this paper, I address Sonia Roca-Royes' account, which is taken to be a representative modal empiricist view, in order to show that modal empiricism faces serious problems even in explaining our knowledge of possibility de re, something which seems to be the easiest thing to explain on this view. I (...) argue that Roca-Royes' account does not prove what she claims it does, that it can hardly be articulated in a non-redundant way, and that her account of our knowledge of possibility de re can hardly be reconciled with the essentiality of origin principle, to which modal empiricists sometimes appeal while criticizing the modal rationalist account. (shrink)
The thought experiment is a seemingly indispensable tool in the armchair philosopher’s toolbox. One wonders, for example, how philosophers could come to think that justified true belief isn’t knowledge, that reference isn’t determined by an expression’s associated description, or that moral responsibility doesn’t require the ability to do otherwise, without the use of thought experiments. But even if thought experiments play an integral role in philosophical methodology, their legitimacy is at least initially puzzling: one would think that significant knowledge of (...) the world requires extensive empirical investigation. But since thought experiments are done from the armchair, how can they tell us about the world? -/- A standard account of the nature and utility of thought experiments provides an answer to this question, and in a way that fits naturally with a standard picture of the nature of the facts philosophers investigate: Philosophers are about the business of investigating the essences of things and kinds. But a thing’s essential and accidental properties are modal properties. Thus, one can discern a thing’s essence by discovering its modal profile. But if so, then thought experiments are naturally suited as tools for the armchair philosopher. For thought experiments shed light on modal facts. Therefore, since philosophers investigate essences, facts about essence are modal facts, and the thought experiment is one of the few tools they have for discerning such facts, thought experiments play a legitimate and indispensable role in philosophical methodology. In my dissertation, I argue that the standard account of the nature and utility of thought experiments is inadequate, and sketch a more promising account. -/- First, I argue that our knowledge of possibility is restricted to the relatively humdrum. And if so, then since the standard account ties the utility of thought experiments to our knowledge of possibility, too many thought experiments will be ruled out as useless, which raises serious concerns about the significance, and perhaps even the legitimacy, of armchair philosophy. Thus, there is pressure for armchair philosophers to reject the standard account. -/- Second, I sketch an alternative picture of the nature of facts philosophers investigate – one that’s more fine-grained than the standard modal-profile picture. Relatedly, I sketch a correspondingly fine-grained semantics for claims about such facts. This alternative picture underwrites the legitimacy of a hitherto underappreciated sort of thought experiment, which I call the non-modal thought experiment. Such thought experiments shed light on facts about the world that are more fine-grained than what can be discerned by merely examining their modal profiles. I argue that non-modal thought experiments often succeed at just the points where the more familiar modal thought experiments fail, and thus that the two are naturally suited to complement one another in the philosopher’s practice. -/- Finally, I exploit the points mentioned above to sketch an account of the variety and utility of thought experiments that’s much more nuanced than that of the standard account. I then illustrate some of its virtues by indicating its ability to account for a wide range of epistemically forceful thought experiments – both humdrum and exotic –, and by demonstrating how it can be used to make progress in debates that have reached a stalemate due to conflicting modal intuitions. -/- . (shrink)
The idea that the epistemology of modality is in some sense a priori is a popular one, but it has turned out to be difficult to precisify in a way that does not expose it to decisive counterexamples. The most common precisifications follow Kripke’s suggestion that cases of necessary a posteriori truth that can be known a priori to be necessary if true ‘may give a clue to a general characterization of a posteriori knowledge of necessary truths’. The idea is (...) that whether it is contingent whether p can be known a priori for at least some broad range of sentences ‘p’. Recently, Al Casullo and Jens Kipper have discussed restrictions of such principles to atomic sentences. We show that decisive counterexamples even to such dramatically restricted Kripke-style principles can be constructed using minimal logical resources. We then consider further restrictions, and show that the counterexamples to the original principles can be turned into counterexamples to the further restricted principles. We conclude that, if there are any true restrictions of Kripke-style principles, then they are so weak as to be of little epistemological interest. (shrink)
Modal intuitions are the primary source of modal knowledge but also of modal error. According to the theory of modal error in this paper, modal intuitions retain their evidential force in spite of their fallibility, and erroneous modal intuitions are in principle identifiable and eliminable by subjecting our intuitions to a priori dialectic. After an inventory of standard sources of modal error, two further sources are examined in detail. The first source - namely, the failure to distinguish between metaphysical (...) class='Hi'>possibility and various kinds of epistemic possibility - turns out to be comparatively easy to untangle and poses little threat to intuition-driven philosophical investigation. The second source is the local misunderstanding of one's concepts . This pathology may be understood on analogy with a patient who is given a clean bill of health at his annual check-up, despite his having a cold at the time of the check-up: although the patient's health is locally disrupted, his overall health is sufficiently good to enable him to overcome the cold without external intervention. Even when our understanding of certain pivotal concepts has lapsed locally, our larger body of intuitions is sufficiently reliable to allow us, without intervention, to ferret out the modal errors resulting from this lapse of understanding by means of dialectic and/or a process of a priori reflection. This source of modal error, and our capacity to overcome it, has wide-ranging implications for philosophical method - including, in particular, its promise for disarming skepticism about the classical method of intuition-driven investigation itself. Indeed, it is shown that skeptical accounts of modal error are ultimately self-defeating. (shrink)
In Pantsar (2014), an outline for an empirically feasible epistemological theory of arithmetic is presented. According to that theory, arithmetical knowledge is based on biological primitives but in the resulting empirical context develops an essentially a priori character. Such contextual a priori theory of arithmetical knowledge can explain two of the three characteristics that are usually associated with mathematical knowledge: that it appears to be a priori and objective. In this paper it is argued that it can also explain the (...) ... (shrink)
Williamsonian modal epistemology is characterized by two commitments: realism about modality, and anti-exceptionalism about our modal knowledge. Williamson’s own counterfactual-based modal epistemology is the best known implementation of WME, but not the only option that is available. I sketch and defend an alternative implementation which takes our knowledge of metaphysical modality to arise, not from knowledge of counterfactuals, but from our knowledge of ordinary possibility statements of the form ‘x can F’. I defend this view against a criticism indicated (...) in Williamson’s own work, and argue that it is better connected to the semantics of modal language. (shrink)
This volume collects four published articles by the late Tamara Horowitz and two unpublished papers on decision theory: "Making Rational Decisions When Preferences Cycle" and the monograph-length "The Backtracking Fallacy." An introduction is provided by editor Joseph Camp. Horowitz preferred to recognize the diversity of rationality, both practical and theoretical rationality. She resisted the temptation to accept simple theories of rationality that are quick to characterize ordinary reasoning as fallacious. This broadly humanist approach to philosophy is exemplified by the articles (...) in this collection. As just one example, in "The Backtracking Fallacy," she argues that there are policies for decision-making a person may adopt if the person prefers to do so, but need not adopt. A person who employs such a policy no longer can regard standard expected utility theory as exceptionless, thereby sacrificing theoretical simplicity. But it is a mistake, Horowitz argues, to preserve theoretical simplicity by falsifying the decision making methods real people really use. (shrink)
Robert Greenberg offers an intricate, highly original reading of Kant’s first Critique on what constitutes the possibility of a priori knowledge. One of the book’s main features, ambitious in scope, is the author’s extensive polemic against mainstream Anglophone approaches to Kant’s position on a priori knowledge. Many of them have, according to Greenberg, fundamentally misunderstood Kant’s theory of transcendental idealism. In particular, Greenberg sees Peter Strawson’s epochmaking classic, The Bounds of Sense—An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason as (...) a leitfaden for other similarly misguided interpretations. Most Anglo-American accounts hold that for Kant’s critical project to have any viability at all it cannot be taken as an attempt to show the possibility of a priori knowledge as such, but rather to spell out the conditions for empirical knowledge. Greenberg gives examples: Strawson believes that Kant’s transcendental idealism is unsustainable because the central “principle of significance” perishes from its own internal contradictions. Likewise, Henry Allison’s interpretations replace the dualism of transcendental idealism by a monism built around the empirical object. Greenberg faults other “ Customary Interpretations of Kant’s Ontology”, those of Karl Ameriks, Richard Aquila, Paul Guyer, Patricia Kitcher, among others, on grounds of having misread Kant’s ontology vis à vis his transcendental epistemology. (shrink)
I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes (...) all the many properties and behaviors that are typically shared by all the instances of the kind. Accordingly, we know what is necessarily true of kinds by knowing what is essential to them in the sense of actually playing such causal-explanatory roles. Modal reasoning aimed at discovering metaphysical necessity thus proceeds via essentialist deduction: we move from essentialist truths to reach necessary truths. (shrink)
This volume collects articles of the late philosopher Tamara Horowitz. It includes four previously published and two unpublished articles. Though she had wide-ranging interests during her career, Horowitz was mostly concerned with what can be known as priori. She argued against too much confidence in philosophical intuition and argued for a more naturalist, scientific approach. Joseph Camp includes an editor's introduction to the collection of this important philosopher.
It seems undeniable that we have many items of modal knowledge. Tradition has it that conceivability is the evidence for possibility that gets us to this modal knowledge. But "conceive" cannot mean think, understand, entertain, suppose, or find believable, because none of these are suited to serve as evidence for possibility, and if it is none of these, it is mysterious what conceivability is, and why it is evidence for possibility. I argue that sensory imagination is the (...) most promising candidate for a source of modal evidence. A theory of imaginative content is developed in Chapter One, one which allows what seems undeniable: that we do imagine the impossible. This raises a challenge to explain why, in the face of our ability to imagine the impossible, we should accept imagination as modal evidence. The predominant response, developed by Saul Kripke, limits the scope of imagination to preserve the link between imagination and what is possible. In Chapter Two I argue that the Kripkean theory is best thought of as an error theory: when we take ourselves to imagine, e.g., water without H2O, or Mark Twain and Sam Clemens in a fistfight, we are mistaken. I articulate and defend an alternative modal epistemology, one that exploits the crucial difference between assigned and basic content of imagining. The evidential value of some imaginings is undermined by independent considerations about the connection between assigned content and ignorance. Instances in which we imagine the impossible are all cases where these independent considerations give us reason to doubt the imagining's value as modal evidence. The conclusions about assigned content are applied in Chapter Three to the first-person imaginings thought to be crucial in philosophy of mind: the imaginability of zombies, and the imaginability of being a disembodied soul. It is argued that such imaginings offer no evidence favoring dualism over materialism. Finally, alternatives to imagination as the source for modal evidence are discussed in Chapter Four. I explore both direct intuition and a priori-based accounts, and conclude that neither offers a genuine alternative to the imagination. (shrink)
Tyler Burge offers a theory of testimony that allows for the possibility of both testimonial a priori warrant and testimonial a priori knowledge. I uncover a tension in his account of the relationship between the two, and locate its source in the analogy that Burge draws between testimonial warrant and preservative memory. I contend that this analogy should be rejected, and offer a revision of Burge's theory that eliminates the tension. I conclude by assessing the impact of the revised (...) theory on the scope of a priori knowledge. (shrink)
This paper contains replies to comments on the author's paper "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy." Several points in the argument of that paper are given further clarification: the notion of our standard justificatory procedure, the notion of a basic source of evidence, and the doctrine of modal reliabilism. The reliability of intuition is then defended against Lycan's skepticism and a response is given to Lycan's claim that the scope of a priori knowledge does not include philosophically central (...) topics such as the nature of consciousness. Next a counterfactual account of intuitions proposed by Sosa is criticized. Finally, in response to certain questions raised by Sosa, the explanation of the evidential status of intuition offered in the original paper receives further elaboration. (shrink)
This paper argues that a priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism—if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of the inessential properties that, historically, have been associated with the concept. I argue that empirical indefeasibility is essential to the primary notion of the a priori ; however, the indefeasibility requirement should be interpreted in such a way that we can be fallibilist about apriori-justified claims. This fallibilist notion of the a priori accords with the (...) naturalist’s commitment to scientific methodology in that it allows for apriori-justified claims to be sensitive to further conceptual developments and the expansion of evidence. The fallibilist apriorist allows that an a priori claim is revisable in only a purely epistemic sense. This modal claim is weaker than what is required for a revisability thesis to establish empiricism, so fallibilist apriorism represents a distinct position. (shrink)
Christopher Hill contends that the metaphysical modalities can be reductively explained in terms of the subjunctive conditional and that this reductive explanation yields two tests for determining the metaphysical modality of a proposition. He goes on to argue that his reductive account of the metaphysical modalities in conjunction with his account of modal knowledge underwrites the further conclusion that conceivability does not provide a reliable test for metaphysical possibility. I argue (1) that Hill’s reductive explanation of the metaphysical modalities (...) in terms of the subjunctive conditional does not yield a reductive explanation of knowledge of metaphysical modality in terms of knowledge of subjunctive conditionals, and (2) that his account of modal knowledge is at odds with his contention that conceivability does not provide epistemic access to metaphysical possibility. (shrink)
This paper is about the epistemic challenge for mind-independence approaches of modality. The challenge is to elucidate the possibility conditions for modal knowledge, and arises from acceptance of the following three premises: (a) We have modal knowledge (which, for a mind-independence theorist is knowledge of the extra-mental world); (b) Any knowledge of the extra-mental world is grounded on causal affection; and (c) Any knowledge grounded on causal affection cannot outrun knowledge of mere truths (as opposed to modal truths). Most (...) attempts to solve the challenge (Peacocke’s, Yablo’s and Chalmers’ among them), try to do so by denying premise (b). Here, reasons are given to doubt about the adequacy of such a strategy, and it is suggested that a better way of solving the challenge is by qualifying the acceptance of (b) as well as by denying (c). (shrink)
I argue that you can have a priori knowledge of propositions that neither are nor appear necessarily true. You can know a priori contingent propositions that you recognize as such. This overturns a standard view in contemporary epistemology and the traditional view of the a priori, which restrict a priori knowledge to necessary truths, or at least to truths that appear necessary.
The prevailing interpretation of Kant’s _First Critique _in Anglo-American philosophy views his theory of a priori knowledge as basically a theory about the possibility of empirical knowledge, or the a priori conditions for that possibility. Instead, Robert Greenberg argues that Kant is more fundamentally concerned with the possibility of a priori knowledge—the very possibility of the possibility of empirical knowledge in the first place. Greenberg advances four central theses: the _Critique_ is primarily concerned about the (...)possibility, or relation to objects, of a priori_,_ not empirical knowledge, and Kant’s theory of that possibility is defensible; Kant’s transcendental ontology must be distinct from the conditions of the possibility of a priori knowledge; the functions of judgment, in Kant’s discussion of the Table of Judgments, should be seen according to his transcendental logic as having content, not as being just logical forms of judgment making; Kant’s distinction between and connection of ordering relations and reference relations have to be kept in mind to avoid misunderstanding the _Critique_. At every step of the way Greenberg contrasts his view with the major interpretations of Kant by commentators like Henry Allison, Jonathan Bennett, Paul Guyer, and Peter Strawson. Not only does this new approach to Kant present a strong challenge to these dominant interpretations, but by being more true to Kant’s own intent it holds promise for making better sense out of what have been seen as the _First Critique_’s discordant themes. (shrink)
The aim of the present work is to demonstrate that physicalism and a priori knowledge are epistemologically incompatible. The possibility of a priori knowledge on physicalism will be considered in the light of Edmund Gettier’s insight regarding knowledge. In the end, it becomes apparent that physicalism entails an unavoidable disconnect between a priori beliefs and their justificatory grounds; thus precluding the possibility of a priori knowledge. Consequently, a priori knowledge and physicalism are epistemologically incompatible.
The paper argues that, although a distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge (or justification) can be drawn, it is a superficial one, of little theoretical significance. The point is not that the distinction has borderline cases, for virtually all useful distinctions have such cases. Rather, it is argued by means of an example, the differences even between a clear case of a priori knowledge and a clear case of a posteriori knowledge may be superficial ones. In both cases, (...) experience plays a role that is more than purely enabling but less than strictly evidential. It is also argued that the cases at issue are not special, but typical of a wide range of others, including knowledge of axioms of set theory and of elementary logical truths. Attempts by Quine and others to make all knowledge a posteriori (‘empirical’) are repudiated. The paper ends with a call for a new framework to be developed for analysing the epistemology of cognitive uses of the imagination. (shrink)
Most current theories of meaning and mental content accept externalism. One of its forceful exponents is Ruth Garrett Millikan. She argues that externalism leads to the abandonment of "the last myth of the given", that is, of the idea that identity of meaning and mental content is somehow unproblematically given to us, and that we can easily recognize the sameness of meaning and mental content. If one refuses such a "mythical" giveness or meaning rationalism, one has to admit that there (...) is no logical possibility known a priori . The paper tries to show that even if one abandons meaning rationalism one can still hold that there are logical possibilities known a priori . The claim is defended by arguing that a priori knowledge is not completely independent from experience and does not demand the absolute transparency of meaning from the first-person point of view. A priori knowledge requires only a priori justification, that is, such a justification that is based merely on relations between meanings or contents. (shrink)
This paper provides a defense of two traditional theses: the Autonomy of Philosophy and the Authority of Philosophy. The first step is a defense of the evidential status of intuitions (intellectual seemings). Rival views (such as radical empiricism), which reject the evidential status of intuitions, are shown to be epistemically self-defeating. It is then argued that the only way to explain the evidential status of intuitions is to invoke modal reliabilism. This theory requires that intuitions have a certain qualified modal (...) tie to the truth. This result is then used as the basis of the defense of the Autonomy and Authority theses. The paper closes with a defense of the two theses against a potential threat from scientific essentialism. (shrink)
Recent work on the philosophy of modality has tended to pass over questions about iterated modalities in favour of constructing ambitious metaphysical theories of possibility and necessity, despite the central importance of iterated modalities to modal logic. Yet there are numerous unresolved but fundamental issues involving iterated modalities: Chandler and Salmon have provided forceful arguments against the widespread assumption that all necessary truths are necessarily necessary, for example. The current paper examines a range of ways in which one might (...) seek to identify limited regions within which some of the most well-known principles featuring iterated modalities may safely be assumed. (shrink)
In the presented article, I have analyzed the famous Saul Kripke statement that some a priori truths are contingent. I show, that despite Kripke’s thesis, in the historical understanding of contingency, the notions of contingency and apriority are in deep conflict with each other. In this understanding of contingency, the past, which can be known a priori, is not contingent, and the future, which is contingent, has difficulty acquiring a priori knowledge. Having stated Kripke’s thesis more precisely, I propose three (...) means in order to defend it in the historical understanding of possibility: by introducing the notion of “factual” future, by replacing the notion of apriority with the notion of apriority-in-the-future; by replacing the notion of apriority with the notion of historical apriority, and the notion of contingency with the notion of once-apriority. In the annex of the article, I present the formal analysis of the problem that I have introduced and three solutions which I have proposed in the language of temporal-modal logic of predicates for models of indeterministic time. (shrink)
This collection highlights the new trend away from rationalism and toward empiricism in the epistemology of modality. Accordingly, the book represents a wide range of positions on the empirical sources of modal knowledge. Readers will find an introduction that surveys the field and provides a brief overview of the work, which progresses from empirically-sensitive rationalist accounts to fully empiricist accounts of modal knowledge. Early chapters focus on challenges to rationalist theories, essence-based approaches to modal knowledge, and the prospects for naturalizing (...) modal epistemology. The middle chapters present positive accounts that reject rationalism, but which stop short of advocating exclusive appeal to empirical sources of modal knowledge. The final chapters mark a transition toward exclusive reliance on empirical sources of modal knowledge. They explore ways of making similarity-based, analogical, inductive, and abductive arguments for modal claims based on empirical information. Modal epistemology is coming into its own as a field, and this book has the potential to anchor a new research agenda. (shrink)
Abstract: This article aims at elucidating the ways in which philosophy may engage in cooperation with other disciplines through “philosophy with” (Hansson 2008). An exemplary investigation is undertaken of the roles of epistemology in investigating knowledge, that is, how epistemology may interact with sciences concerned with knowledge. Four possible roles are distinguished: provider of a priori conceptual analyses, clarifier of scientific concepts and their implications, interpreter of scientific results, and dialogue partner with a voice of its own. Each role is (...) illustrated by contemporary texts, and it is argued that the role of dialogue partner is the most fruitful. (shrink)
Kant contends that necessity is a criterion of the a priori—that is, that all knowledge of necessary propositions is a priori. This contention, together with two others that Kant took to be evident—we know some mathematical propositions and such propositions are necessary—leads directly to the conclusion that some knowledge is a priori. Although many contemporary philosophers endorse Kant’s criterion, supporting arguments are hard to come by. Gordon Barnes provides one of the few examples. My purpose in this chapter is to (...) articulate and examine his argument. I have two goals in doing so. The first is to uncover several significant gaps in the argument. The second is to show that it suffers from a common defect in rationalist arguments. If the argument were successful against empiricist accounts of modal knowledge, it would apply with equal force to extant rationalist accounts of such knowledge. Hence, the cost of refuting modal empiricism is modal scepticism. (shrink)
The viewpoint of Evolutionary Epistemology (EE) and of Genetic Epistemology (GE) on classical epistemological questions is strikingly different: EE starts with Evolutionary Biology, the subject of which is population's dynamics. GE, however, starts with Developmental Psychology and thus focusses the development of individuals. By EE knowledge is seen as portraying or copying process, and truth is interpreted as a product of adaptation, whereas for GE knowledge is due to a construction process in which the production of true insights is only (...) one possibility among others: Like falsity, error and deception, true knowledge goes back to a free relationship to reality. The difference between scientific and common knowledge is hard to be checked by EE, since both result ultimately from human hereditary structures. The study of how scientific knowledge emerges from everyday cognition is rather the task of GE. (shrink)