There is a long tradition in philosophy of using a priori methods to draw conclusions about what is possible and what is necessary, and often in turn to draw conclusions about matters of substantive metaphysics. Arguments like this typically have three steps: first an epistemic claim , from there to a modal claim , and from there to a metaphysical claim.
To what extent and how is conceivability a guide to possibility? This essay explores general philosophical issues raised by this question, and critically surveys responses to it by Descartes, Hume, Kripke and "two-dimensionalists.".
The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them.
The Humean view that conceivability entails possibility can be criticized via input from cognitive psychology. A mainstream view here has it that there are two candidate codings for mental representations (one of them being, according to some, reducible to the other): the linguistic and the pictorial, the difference between the two consisting in the degree of arbitrariness of the representation relation. If the conceivability of P at issue for Humeans involves the having of a linguistic mental representation, then it (...) is easy to show that we can conceive the impossible, for impossibilities can be represented by meaningful bits of language. If the conceivability of P amounts to the pictorial imaginability of a situation verifying P, then the question is whether the imagination at issue works purely qualitatively, that is, only by phenomenological resemblance with the imagined scenario. If so, the range of situations imaginable in this way is too limited to have a significant role in modal epistemology. If not, imagination will involve some arbitrary labeling component, which turns out to be sufficient for imagining the impossible. And if the relevant imagination is neither linguistic nor pictorial, Humeans will appear to resort to some representational magic, until they come up with a theory of a ‘third code’ for mental representations. (shrink)
Some people might be tempted by modal ontological arguments from the possibility that God exists to the conclusion that God in fact exists. They might also be tempted to support the claim that possibly God exists by appealing to the conceivability of God’s existence. In this chapter, I introduce three constraints on an adequate theory of philosophical conceivability. I then consider and develop both imagination-based accounts of conceivability and conceptual coherence-based accounts of conceivability. Finally, I return to the modal (...) ontological argument and consider whether the premise that possibly God exists can be supported by some conceiving. (shrink)
An early modern scholastic conception of moral possibility helps make sense of Descartes's own perplexing use of that concept and solves the exegetical puzzles surrounding Descartes's conflicting remarks about free will.
In this paper, we argue that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’, which is the view that ideal primary positive conceivability entails primary metaphysical possibility, is self-defeating. To this end, we outline two reductio arguments against ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’. The first reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that conceivability both is and is not conclusive evidence for possibility. The second reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that it (...) is possible that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is necessarily false, and hence that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is false. We then argue that adopting a weaker position according to which conceivability is merely prima facie evidence for possibility provides limited protection from our criticism of conceivability arguments. (shrink)
The paper first introduces a cube of opposition that associates the traditional square of opposition with the dual square obtained by Piaget’s reciprocation. It is then pointed out that Blanché’s extension of the square-of-opposition structure into an conceptual hexagonal structure always relies on an abstract tripartition. Considering quadripartitions leads to organize the 16 binary connectives into a regular tetrahedron. Lastly, the cube of opposition, once interpreted in modal terms, is shown to account for a recent generalization of formal concept analysis, (...) where noticeable hexagons are also laid bare. This generalization of formal concept analysis is motivated by a parallel with bipolar possibility theory. The latter, albeit graded, is indeed based on four graded set functions that can be organized in a similar structure. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to give a philosophical analysis of the relationship between contingently available technology and the knowledge that it makes possible. My concern is with what specific subjects can know in practice, given their particular conditions, especially available technology, rather than what can be known “in principle” by a hypothetical entity like Laplace’s Demon. The argument has two parts. In the first, I’ll construct a novel account of epistemic possibility that incorporates two pragmatic conditions: responsibility (...) and practicability. For example, whether subjects can gain knowledge depends in some circumstances on whether they have the capability of gathering relevant evidence. In turn, the possibility of undertaking such investigative activities depends in part on factors like ethical constraints, economical realities, and available technology. In the second part of the paper, I’ll introduce “technological possibility” to analyze the set of actions made possible by available technology. To help motivate the problem and later test my proposal, I’ll focus on a specific historical case, one of the earliest uses of digital electronic computers in a scientific investigation. I conclude that the epistemic possibility of gaining access to scientific knowledge about certain subjects depends (in some cases) on the technological possibility for making responsible investigations. (shrink)
Drawing on the so-called “doctrinal paradox”, List and Pettit (2002) have shown that, given an unrestricted domain condition, there exists no procedure for aggregating individual sets of judgments over multiple interconnected propositions into corresponding collective ones, where the procedure satisfies some minimal conditions similar to the conditions of Arrow’s theorem. I prove that we can avoid the paradox and the associated impossibility result by introducing an appropriate domain restriction: a structure condition, called unidimensional alignment, is shown to open up a (...)possibility result, similar in spirit to Black’s median voter theorem. Specifically, I prove that, given unidimensional alignment, propositionwise majority voting is the unique procedure for aggregating individual sets of judgments into collective ones in accordance with the above mentioned minimal conditions. (shrink)
In this article, we develop a bimodal perspective on possibility semantics, a framework allowing partiality of states that provides an alternative modelling for classical propositional and modal logics. In particular, we define a full and faithful translation of the basic modal logic K over possibility models into a bimodal logic of partial functions over partial orders, and we show how to modulate this analysis by varying across logics and model classes that have independent topological motivations. This relates the (...) two realms under comparison both semantically and syntactically at the level of derivations. Moreover, our analysis clarifies the interplay between the complexity of translations and axiomatizations of the corresponding logics: adding axioms to the target bimodal logic simplifies translations, or vice versa, complex translations can simplify frame conditions. We also investigate a transfer of first-order correspondence theory between possibility semantics and its bimodal counterpart. Finally, we discuss the conceptual trade-off between giving translations and giving new semantics for logical systems, and we identify a number of further research directions to which our analysis gives rise. (shrink)
I focus on a key argument for global external world scepticism resting on the underdetermination thesis: the argument according to which we cannot know any proposition about our physical environment because sense evidence for it equally justifies some sceptical alternative (e.g. the Cartesian demon conjecture). I contend that the underdetermination argument can go through only if the controversial thesis that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility is true. I also suggest a reason to doubt (...) that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility, and thus to doubt the underdetermination argument. (shrink)
Possibility offers a new analysis of the metaphysical concepts of possibility and necessity, one that does not rely on any sort of "possible worlds." The analysis proceeds from an account of the notion of a physical object and from the positing of properties and relations. It is motivated by considerations about how we actually speak of and think of objects. Michael Jubien discusses several closely related topics, including different purported varieties of possible worlds, the doctrine of "essentialism," natural (...) kind terms and alleged examples of necessity a posteriori. The book also offers a new theory of the functioning of proper names, both actual and fictional, and the discussion of natural kind terms and necessity a posteriori depends in part on this theory. (shrink)
The paper distinguishes between weak and strong epistemic possibility and argues that the notion of strong epistemic possibility is the key to solving some of the most vexing puzzles about the semantics of epistemic modality.
Sider (2011, 2013) proposes a reductive analysis of metaphysical modality—‘(modal) Humeanism’—and goes on to argue that it has interesting epistemological and methodological implications. In particular, Humeanism is supposed to undermine a class of ‘arguments from possibility’, which includes Sider's (1993) own argument against mereological nihilism and Chalmers's (1996) argument against physicalism. I argue that Sider's arguments do not go through, and moreover that we should instead expect Humeanism to be compatible with the practice of arguing from possibility in (...) philosophy. (shrink)
We shall use Gödel’s Second Incompleteness Theorem to show that consistency is not possibility, and then argue that the argument does serious damage to some theories of modality where consistency plays a major but not exclusive role.
In the history of modern philosophy systematic connections were assumed to hold between the modal concepts of logical possibility and necessity and the concept of conceivability. However, in the eyes of many contemporary philosophers, insuperable objections face any attempt to analyze the modal concepts in terms of conceivability. It is important to keep in mind that a philosophical explanation of modality does not have to take the form of a reductive analysis. In this paper I attempt to provide a (...) response-dependent account of the modal concepts in terms of conceivability along the lines of a nonreductive model of explanation. (shrink)
We claim that Kant's doctrine of the "transcendental ideal of pure reason" contains, in an anticipatory sense, a second-order theory of reality (as a second-order property) and of the highest being. Such a theory, as reconstructed in this paper, is a transformation of Kant's metatheoretical regulative and heuristic presuppositions of empirical theories into a hypothetical ontotheology. We show that this metaphysical theory, in distinction to Descartes' and Leibniz's ontotheology, in many aspects resembles Gödel's theoretical conception of the possibility of (...) a supreme being. The proposed second-order modal formalization of the Kantian doctrine of the "transcendental ideal" of the supreme being includes some specific features of Kantian general logic like "categorical", "hypothetical", and exclusive disjunctive propositions as basic forms. (shrink)
Although epistemic possibility figures in several debates, those debates have had relatively little contact with one another. G. E. Moore focused squarely upon analyzing epistemic uses of the phrase, ‘It’s possible that p’, and in doing so he made two fundamental assumptions. First, he assumed that epistemic possibility statements always express the epistemic position of a community, as opposed to that of an individual speaker. Second, he assumed that all epistemic uses of ‘It’s possible that p’ are analyzable (...) in terms of knowledge, not belief. A number of later theorists, including Keith DeRose, provide alternative accounts of epistemic possibility, while retaining Moore’s two assumptions. Neither assumption has been explicitly challenged, but Jaakko Hintikka’s analysis provides a basis for doing so. Drawing upon Hintikka’s analysis, I argue that some epistemic possibility statements express only the speaker’s individual epistemic state, and that contra DeRose, they are not degenerate community statements but a class in their own right. I further argue that some linguistic contexts are belief- rather than knowledge-based, and in such contexts, what is possible for a speaker depends not upon what she knows, but upon what she believes. (shrink)
We often ascribe possibility to the scenes that are displayed by mental or nonmental sensory images. The paper presents a novel argument for thinking that we are prima facie justified in ascribing metaphysical possibility to what is displayed by suitable visual images, and it argues that many of our imagery‐based ascriptions of metaphysical possibility are therefore prima facie justified. Some potential objections to the arguments are discussed, and some potential extensions of them, to cover nonvisual forms of (...) imagery and nonmetaphysical forms of possibility, are endorsed. (shrink)
I investigate two asymmetrical approaches to knowledge of absolute possibility and of necessity--one which treats knowledge of possibility as more fundamental, the other according epistemological priority to necessity. Two necessary conditions for the success of an asymmetrical approach are proposed. I argue that a possibility-based approach seems unable to meet my second condition, but that on certain assumptions--including, pivotally, the assumption that logical and conceptual necessities, while absolute, do not exhaust the class of absolute necessities--a necessity-based approach (...) may be able to do so. (shrink)
In the Postulates of Empirical Thinking, a section of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant presents an account of the content and role of our concept of real possibility in terms of formal conditions of experience. However, much later in the Critique he introduces the idea of a material condition of possibility. What is this material condition of possibility, and how does it fit with the conception of possibility in terms of formal conditions? This essay argues (...) that the key to answering these questions—as well as to understanding Kant’s criticism of rational theology, in which the discussion of the material condition of possibility appears—is Kant’s account of how we can individuate objects. (shrink)
In the 1680s, Gottfried Leibniz and Antoine Arnauld engaged in a philosophically rich correspondence. One issue they discuss is modal metaphysics – questions concerning necessity, possibility, and essence. While Arnauld's contributions to the correspondence are considered generally astute, his contributions on this issue have not always received a warm treatment. I argue that Arnauld's criticisms of Leibniz are sophisticated and that Arnauld offers his own Cartesian account in its place. In particular, I argue that Arnauld offers an account of (...)possibility that is actualist, modal actualist and essence-based. (shrink)
Handling exceptions in a knowledge-based system is an important issue in many application domains, such as medical domain. Recently, there is an increasing interest in nonmonotonic extension of description logics to handle exceptions in ontologies. In this paper, we propose three preferential semantics for plausible subsumption to deal with exceptions in description logic-based knowledge bases. Our preferential semantics are defined in the framework of possibility theory, which is an uncertainty theory devoted to handling incomplete information. We consider the properties (...) of these semantics and their relationships. We also discuss the relationship between two of our preferential semantics and two existing preferential semantics. We extend a description logic-based knowledge base by adding preferential subsumptions. Entailment of plausible subsumptions relative to an extended knowledge base is defined. Properties of the preferential subsumption relations relative to an extended description logic-based knowledge base are discussed. Finally, we show that our semantics for plausible subsumption can be reduced to standard semantics of an expressive description logic. Thus, the problem of plausible subsumption checking under our semantics can be reduced to the problem of subsumption checking under the classical semantics. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Armstrong’s recent truthmaking account of possibility. I show that the truthmaking account presupposes modality in a number of different ways, and consequently that it is incapable of underwriting a genuine reduction of modality. I also argue that Armstrong’s account faces serious difficulties irrespective of the question of reduction; in particular, I argue that his Entailment and Possibility Principles are both false.
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of possibility , and not merely that of actuality , for an inquiry into the bodily constitution of experience. The paper will study how the possibilities of action that may (or may not) be available to the subject help to shape the meaning attributed to perceived objects and to the situation occupied by the subject within her environment. This view will be supported by reference to empirical (...) evidence provided by recent and current research on the perceptual estimation of distances and the effects brought about by the use of a tool on the organisation of our perceived immediate space. (shrink)
The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. In recent discussions, some have attempted to explicate the notion in terms of epistemic possibility. There are, however, two notions of epistemic possibility, a more familiar one and a novel one. I argue that these two notions are independent of one another. Both are irrelevant to an account of modal (...) knowledge on the predominant view of modal reality. Only the novel notion is relevant and apt on the competing view of modal reality; but this latter view is problematic in light of compelling counterexamples. Insufficient care regarding the independent notions of epistemic possibility can lead to two problems: a gross problem of conflation and a more subtle problem of obscuring a crucial fact of modal epistemology. Either problem needlessly hampers efforts to develop an adequate account of modal knowledge. I conclude that the familiar notion of epistemic possibility should be eschewed in the context of modal epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper I present a model of receptivity that is composed of ontological and normative dimensions, which I argue answer to the critical-diagnostic and to the possibility-disclosing needs of democratic politics. I distinguish between ‘pre-reflective receptivity,’ understood ontologically as a condition of intelligibility, and ‘reflective receptivity,’ understood normatively as a condition of disclosing new possibilities. Keywords: receptivity; change; possibility; critique; reflective disclosure (Published: 23 December 2011) Citation: Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 4 , No. 4, 2011, pp. (...) 255-272. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v4i4.14829. (shrink)
Chalmers argues that zombies are possible and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on physical facts, which shows the falsity of materialism. The crucial step in this argument – that zombies are possible – follows from their conceivability and hence depends on assuming that conceivability implies possibility. But while Chalmers’s defense of this assumption – call it the conceivability principle – is the key part of his argument, it has not been well understood. As I see it, Chalmers’s defense (...) of the conceivability principle comes in his response to the so-called objection from a posteriori necessity. The defense aims at showing that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility since no such gap can be generated by necessary a posteriori truths. I will argue that while Chalmers is right to the extent that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility within the standard Kripkean model of a posteriori necessity, his general conclusion is not justified. This is because the conceivability principle might be inconsistent with a posteriori necessity understood in some non-Kripkean way and Chalmers has not shown that no such alternative understanding of a posteriori necessity is available. (shrink)
We often decide whether a state of affairs is possible by trying to mentally depict a scenario where the state in question obtains . These mental acts seem to provide us with an epistemic route to the space of possibilities. The problem this raises is whether conceivability judgments provide justification-conferring grounds for the ensuing possibility-claims . Although the question has a long history, contemporary interest in it was, to a large extent, prompted by Kripke's utilization of modal intuitions in (...) the course of propounding certain influential theses in the philosophy of language and mind. The interest has been given a further boost by the recent two-dimensional approach to the Kripkean framework. In this paper, I begin by providing a detailed examination of a most recent attempt to defend the thesis and argue that it is unsuccessful. This is followed by presenting my own gloss on Kripke's explanation of the illusions of contingency and I close by raising a general problem intended to undermine the prospects for a successful defense of the thesis. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 197 - 208 The movement of New Realism, which in Italy has been launched by Maurizio Ferraris, is conceived explicitly in opposition to Kant. In his defense of the distinction between ontology and epistemology, Ferraris starts from the presupposition that it is Kant himself who is responsible for their confusion because of his transcendental philosophy and its consequent constructionism. In this paper I will defend Kant’s perspective, explaining his reasons, even against Meillasoux’s “speculative (...) realism.” The basic idea is that Kant’s transcendental philosophy requires a new philosophical attitude, which implies a shift from reality to possibility as the fundamental philosophical category, since only possibility enables a critical perspective on reality. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. (...) To make these arguments, I consider those of Paul Tidman, whose position I use as a foil.RÉSUMÉ: Dernièrement, le débat sur la thèse de la concevabilité a peu porté sur le lien entre la concevabilité et la possibilité per se et s’est plutôt intéressé aux conditions requises pour la réalisation du programme physicaliste. Toutefois, avant d’entrer dans ce débat, il est nécessaire de se demander si la concevabilité offre une justification même élémentaire des croyances modales. Je soutiens que deux méthodesde concevoir — imaginer que p et raconter une histoire à propos de p — sont susceptibles de nous fournir cette justification, mais seulement dans la limite de certaines conditions. À l’appui de mon propos, j’envisage la position de Paul Tidman, qui me sert de repoussoir. (shrink)
This paper observes that in the midst of a thickening debate over the concept of “epistemic possibility,” nearly every philosopher assumes that the concept is equivalent to a mere absence of epistemic impossibility, that a proposition is epistemically possible if and only if our knowledge does not entail that it is false. I suggest that it is high time that we challenge this deeply entrenched assumption. I assemble an array of data that singles out the distinctive meaning and function (...) of epistemic possibility, which suggest it to be distinct from other modals and an attitude toward a proposition, not a part of the content of a proposition. I suggest that this data is best explained by a positive evidentialist conception of epistemic possibility, one which maintains that a proposition is epistemically possible to a subject only if there is evidence specifically in support of that proposition that is cognitively available to that subject. I suggest that this view not only offers a superior explanation of the data, but also offers a unique and straightforward strategy for undermining skeptical arguments. (shrink)
Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors' harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility (...) can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world. (shrink)
Introduction: -/- Walking, illegally, down main Montreal thoroughfares with students in nightly demonstrations, with neighbors whom I barely knew before, banging pots and pans, and with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people on every 22nd of the month since March—this was unimaginable a year ago.1 Unimaginable that the collective and heterogeneous body, which is the “manif [demonstration]”, could feel so much like home, despite its internal differences. Unimaginable that this mutual dependence on one another could enable not only (...) collective protection from traffic and police but the affective strength and audacity to take back the street—a mutual dependence that includes the masked demonstrators ready to help when gassed by police. Unimaginable too that we would be breaking the law daily,2 that blocking traffic and seeing the city from the center of the street would become habit, and that as the “printemps érable” becomes summer, we would be investing our time in neighborhood assemblies, in weaving social bonds, and in sustaining and deepening the mobilization. -/- I say these actions were unimaginable not merely because the context that motivated the enlargement of the student movement into a popular struggle combines a number of unique features. Nor were they simply unimaginable because the Quebec I previously knew was marred by the Islamophobia and cultural racism made visible during the reasonable accommodation debates, a society whose mapping excluded me and for whose sake it would have been difficult to protest.3 Rather, I say these actions were unimaginable because the possibility of this popular and inclusive mobilization had not yet been created. It is this possibility that the Quebec student movement has created, I argue, not only in quantitative terms by engaging so many, but at the level of lived subjectivities and intercorporeal solidarity. The evolution of the movement should be understood, then, both as a swelling of its popular base and as an intensification and qualitative transformation of ways of life. (shrink)
A. Collins once argued that time travel is only imaginable if we relate the "event" out of context. John Hospers argues that it is logically possible for an iron bar to float in water even if it is actually (empirically) impossible. My point in this piece is that Hospers relies on viewing the floating out of context, in Walt Disney fashion; but that is no way to establish any kind of possibility. I also discuss "conceivability", a term frequently used (...) either to clarify logical possibility or to interchange for the same. I argue that it cannot do either. (shrink)
According to a longstanding metaphysical tradition, actuality is prior and in some ways superior to possibility. From Aristotle to Hegel, the exceptions to this fundamental belief are fairly rare; but there is a marked trend in post-Hegelian thought to undermine this traditional priority, with Theodor W. Adorno representing an important line of attack. Here, the guiding question is: how does Adorno take issue with Hegel's version of the thesis on the subordination of possibility to actuality? Indeed, certain key (...) aspects of Adorno's utopianism can only be understood as a reaction to Hegel's theory of actuality. Specifically, Adorno defends a type of possibility that has no place in Hegel's system and so, in essence, sketches a revised dialectical theory of modality. (shrink)
It is often supposed that in order to refute the view that laws of nature are necessary truths it is sufficient to appeal to Hume's argument from the conceivability of to the possibility of their being false. But while Hume's argument does present the necessitarian with insuperable difficulties it needs to be made clear just what these are. The mere appeal to Hume is quite insufficient for what he says can be interpreted in more than one way. And if (...) it constitutes an argument rather than a mere assertion Kneale has given reason to suppose that it is at least not obviously valid. The upshot of this article is that Hume's argument may be seen as a direct challenge to the notion that there could be propositions whose modal value is necessarily "opaque to the human intellect". (shrink)
Prior's hitherto unpublished "Fable of the Four Preachers" illuminates the connection of the metaphysical issues of trans-world identity with moral trans-world continuity. The paper shows Prior's position with regard to genuine de re temporal possibility of individuals on the basis of chapter VIII of his Papers on Time and Tense. His position is that radical coming-into-being is not a genuine de re temporal possibility of individuals since there is no identifiable individual, before birth, who could be the subject (...) of such possibility. The paper strengthens Prior's claim by showing how an uncomfortable consequence of this intuitively appealing position can be avoided. As a result, the proper claim would be that the possibility of origin is general or de dicto: it is possible that someone be born to such and parents, but it is not possible of someone that he should be born to these or other parents. (shrink)
In this paper we criticize the way possibility is characterized in contemporary modal logic through the diamond operator. We explain that it does not match with the usual notion of possibility and that this notion is better described by the vertex Y of the hexagon of opposition usually called contingency.
One cannot expect an exact answer to the question “What are the possible structures of space?”, but rough answers to it impact central debates within philosophy of space and time. Recently Gordon Belot has suggested that a rough answer takes the class of metric spaces to represent the possible structures of space. This answer has intuitive appeal, but I argue, focusing on topological characterizations of dimension, examples of prima facie space-like mathematical spaces that have pathological dimension properties, and endorsing a (...) principle of plenitude for possibility, that we get a different rough answer: either the class of metrizable spaces or the class of separable metrizable spaces are possible structures of space. (shrink)
In this text, I connect the concept of existence worked out by Heidegger with the concepts of radical understanding. Under this concept I mean the idea that existence is the radical content of every understanding. The fact that according to Heidegger existence is understanding is then explained through their common structure: existence is possibility as well as understanding is directed prominently to possibility. But, as it is shown through wider references to ancient as well as to some contemporary (...) discussions, possibility introduces in the structure of existence a certain incommensurability: that is why existence can never be reduced to a positive, actual reality, but is always “something more” than actuality. (shrink)
This article reviews Owen Flanagan’s latest book “The Geography of Morals, Varieties of Moral Possibilities”. By exploring the space of moral possibility, Flanagan argues that ethics is not simply a study of a priori conditions of normative rules and ideal values but a process of developing a careful understanding of varying conditions of human ecology and building practical views on living good life. The goal of this geographical exploration of the moral possibility space is surveying different traditions of (...) morality and finding tractable ways of human flourishing. This article, by following the chapters of his book, explains his views on moral diversity and his interdisciplinary and naturalistic approach to ethics. It also discusses interactive and dynamic ways to expand the moral possibility space. (shrink)
David Armstrong's book is a contribution to the philosophical discussion about possible worlds. Taking Wittgenstein's Tractatus as his point of departure, Professor Armstrong argues that nonactual possibilities and possible worlds are recombinations of actually existing elements, and as such are useful fictions. There is an extended criticism of the alternative-possible-worlds approach championed by the American philosopher David Lewis. This major work will be read with interest by a wide range of philosophers.
This paper offers an argument in favour of a Lewisian version of concretism that maintains both the principle of material inheritance (according to which, if all the parts of an object x are material, then x is material) and the materiality-modality link (that is, the principle that, for every x, if x is material, then x is possible).
This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...) he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid. (shrink)
A powerful challenge to some highly influential theories, this book offers a thorough critical exposition of modal realism, the philosophical doctrine that many possible worlds exist of which our own universe is just one. Chihara challenges this claim and offers a new argument for modality without worlds.
In the first part of the paper I reconstruct Kant’s proof of the existence of a ‘most real being’ while also highlighting the theory of modality that motivates Kant’s departure from Leibniz’s version of the proof. I go on to argue that it is precisely this departure that makes the being that falls out of the pre-critical proof look more like Spinoza’s extended natura naturans than an independent, personal creator-God. In the critical period, Kant seems to think that transcendental idealism (...) allows him to avoid this conclusion, but in the last section of the paper I argue that there is still one important version of the Spinozistic threat that remains. -/- . (shrink)