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New York: Oxford University Press. Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality. Alvin Plantinga - - Oxford University Press. Thomas M. Matthew Davidson ed.
Plantinga - - In Matthew Davidson ed. Oxford University Press, Usa. Alvin Plantinga - - Eerdmans. The Modal Metaphysics of Alvin Plantinga.
About A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Modality
Cambridge University Press. Jonathan L. Kvanvig ed. Efird - - Analysis 73 2 Mawson - - Analysis 69 3 Enrique R. Moros - Added to PP index Total views 1 1,, of 2,, Recent downloads 6 months 1 , of 2,, How can I increase my downloads? An evidential account aims to show how conceivability provides evidence for possibility. An entailment account goes further and aims to show how in specific cases conceivability entails possibility. Evidential accounts face the problems posed by the existence of a posteriori necessities and the issue of conceiving to the relevant depth of detail.
His main positive thesis is:. The first distinction pertains to the issue of what kind of reasoning has gone into what one has conceived. Better reasoning often gives one reason to doubt a prima facie conception. Ideal rational reasoning, by contrast, is reasoning that cannot be weakened by further reasoning.
When an entailment link between conceivability and possibility is to be forged, the kind of reasoning involved has to be ideal.
This distinction is used to deal with the problem of relevant-depth. At the level of ideal reasoning the relevant-depth of detail in the scenario has, arguably, been reached. The second distinction pertains to two distinct ways in which one can engage in conceiving. Positive conceivability corresponds to actually constructing a scenario. In such a case one constructs a story in which a proposition can be verified to be true by the available details given. The story need not be a complete description of a scenario, but it must be sufficiently detailed so as to verify the statement being considered.
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By contrast, negative conceivability corresponds to not being able to rule out a certain statement. Negative conceivability is often weaker than positive conceivability, since it often derives from ignorance of the relevant facts.
The Epistemology of Modality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
By contrast, conceiving of water without hydrogen in the positive sense requires constructing a scenario in which water is present without hydrogen at the relevant depth of detail required to verify the claim. Arguably, that sort of scenario cannot be constructed. The third distinction pertains to two distinct ways in which we can evaluate statements across possible worlds. For an extended discussion of each see Chalmers , For discussion of a related account of two-dimensional semantics see Jackson , For an extended more complete discussion of Two-Dimensional Semantics see Schroeter The distinction between primary and secondary conceivability and possibility is used to overcome the problem posed by the existence of a posteriori necessities in a way that allows for an entailment link between conceivability and possibility to be forged.
Consider the question: Could water have been something other than H 2 O? On E2-D there is both a yes answer and a no answer depending on how we read the question. That is, we can imagine a substance that looks like water, plays the actual world water-role, but in fact is some other chemical substance. The no answer comes from reading the question as follows: given what water actually is, what could it have been? Scientists have discovered that water is identical to H 2 O.
We also have good reason to believe water is essentially H 2 O. Now if we take the essentialist claim seriously, then we cannot imagine a world in which water is not H 2 O because to imagine water is to imagine H 2 O. The no answer comes from thinking about what variations water can undergo, given what we have discovered about its essence. The intuitive explanation is rendered precise through the E2-D model that allows for the construction of an a priori link between conceivability and possibility by i making conceivability and possibility primarily a property of statements; ii distinguishing two kinds of intensions governing statements; iii acknowledging one space of worlds over which statements are evaluated; and iv distinguishing between two kinds of conceivability and possibility for statements corresponding to each of the intensions.
Primary conceivability and possibility are then argued to allow for an entailment between conceivability and possibility. The distinction between primary and secondary intensions has undergone several revisions and refinements since Chalmers It is a technical distinction. For the purposes of discussion and understanding, here, I will be presenting a brief formal account of the distinction with respect to the core problem posed by a posteriori necessities.
Where S is a statement the distinction between primary and secondary intensions is the following:. With the distinction in place the critical question is: how does the distinction between primary and secondary intensions ameliorate the problem posed by the existence of a posteriori necessities so as to enable an entailment between conceivability and possibility? To show how the distinction ameliorates the problem, consider the following example concerning the identity of Hesperus and Phosphorus.
Assume, as it is actually the case, that:. There are possible worlds in which the brightest star seen in the morning is not identical to the brightest star seen in the evening.
The idea is that conceiving with primary intensions requires that we ask the question:. The former question concerns primary conceivability, the latter concerns secondary conceivability.
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With the distinction between primary and secondary intensions in place, Chalmers argues that while primary conceivability does not entail secondary possibility because of a posteriori necessities, primary conceivability under the right circumstances—positive ideal rational reflection—entails primary possibility. The Connection Question : How is conceivability connected to possibility? Given that modality is mind-independent and conceivability is mind-dependent, how are the two connected such that conceivability provides evidence of possibility?
The question becomes clear when one draws a contrast with perception. Perception, such as vision, generally has a connection to the objects that one perceives.
And it is through the causal connection that one can argue that perception provides one with justification for believing something about their environment. By contrast, if possible worlds are causally isolated from us, how does mind-dependent conceivability provide one with justification for believing that something is mind-independently possible? The Dependence Question : Suppose that conceivability does provide justification for believing that something is possible.
Does it succeed in doing so simply because one possesses a distinct kind of modal or non-modal knowledge that allows for conceivability to operate so as to produce justification? For example, does conceivability guide one to the belief that a round square is impossible simply because one knows what squares and circles are, and by examining their definition one can arrive safely at the conclusion that such objects are impossible? Similarly, does one simply find water in the absence of hydrogen possible because one either suppresses the knowledge that water contains hydrogen or one does not know that water does contain hydrogen?
Is conceivability an ultimate source of modal knowledge, or is it a derivative source of modal knowledge, dependent on another source, such as knowledge of essence and essential properties? The Conditions Question : suppose that conceivability does provide justification for believing that something is possible. Does conceivability ever entail possibility? If it does, what are the conditions one must be in for conceivability to entail possibility?
Do humans ever instantiate those conditions? See Worley for discussion. The Direction Question : There are two directions in which conceivability can be discussed.
Related Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality
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