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Putting Modal Metaphysics First

Synthese (Suppl 8):1-20 (2018)

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  1. No, water (still) doesn’t have a microstructural essence.Sören Häggqvist - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-13.
    Häggqvist and Wikforss argued that in the case of so-called natural kind terms, semantic externalism relies on an untenable metaphysics of kinds: microessentialism. They further claimed that this metaphysics fails, for largely empirical reasons. Focussing on the case of water, Hoefer and Martí European Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 9, rejoin that suitably construed, microessentialism is correct. I argue that their defence of microessentialism fails.
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  • Reflections on Naming and Necessity.Michael Devitt - 2022 - Wiley: Theoria 88 (2):406-433.
    Theoria, Volume 88, Issue 2, Page 406-433, April 2022.
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  • Possibility, relevant similarity, and structural knowledge.Tom Schoonen - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-22.
    Recently, interest has surged in similarity-based epistemologies of possibility. However, it has been pointed out that the notion of ‘relevant similarity’ is not properly developed in this literature. In this paper, I look at the research done in the field of analogical reasoning, where we find that one of the most promising ways of capturing relevance in similarity reasoning is by relying on the predictive analogy similarity relation. This takes relevant similarity to be based on shared properties that have structural (...)
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  • Modal Inferences in Science: A Tale of Two Epistemologies.Ilmari Hirvonen, Rami Koskinen & Ilkka Pättiniemi - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13823-13843.
    Recent epistemology of modality has seen a growing trend towards metaphysics-first approaches. Contrastingly, this paper offers a more philosophically modest account of justifying modal claims, focusing on the practices of scientific modal inferences. Two ways of making such inferences are identified and analyzed: actualist-manipulationist modality and relative modality. In AM, what is observed to be or not to be the case in actuality or under manipulations, allows us to make modal inferences. AM-based inferences are fallible, but the same holds for (...)
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  • Non‐Uniformism About the Epistemology of Modality: Strong and Weak.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2020 - Analytic Philosophy 61 (2):152-173.
    Uniformism about the epistemology of modality is the view that there is only one basic route to modal knowledge; non-uniformism is the view that there are several. Non-uniformism is becoming an increasingly popular stance, but how can it be defended? I prise apart two ways of understanding the uniformism/non-uniformism conflict that are mixed up in the literature. I argue that once separated, it is evident that they lead up to two different non-uniformist theses that need to be argued for in (...)
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  • Essence and Modal Knowledge.Boris Kment - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):1957-1979.
    During the last quarter of a century, a number of philosophers have become attracted to the idea that necessity can be analyzed in terms of a hyperintensional notion of essence. One challenge for proponents of this view is to give a plausible explanation of our modal knowledge. The goal of this paper is to develop a strategy for meeting this challenge. My approach rests on an account of modality that I developed in previous work, and which analyzes modal properties in (...)
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  • Modal Pluralism and Higher-Order Logic.Justin Clarke-Doane & William McCarthy - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    In this article, we discuss a simple argument that modal metaphysics is misconceived, and responses to it. Unlike Quine’s, this argument begins with the banal observation that there are different candidate interpretations of the predicate ‘could have been the case’. This is analogous to the observation that there are different candidate interpretations of the predicate ‘is a member of’. The argument then infers that the search for metaphysical necessities is misguided in much the way the ‘set-theoretic pluralist’ (Clarke-Doane & Hamkins (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Modality.Antonella Mallozzi, Michael Wallner & Anand Vaidya - 2021 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • An Agency-Based Epistemology of Modality.Barbara Vetter - forthcoming - In Duško Prelević & Anand Vaidya (eds.), The Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology. New York: Routledge.
    My aim in this paper is to sketch, with a broad brush and in bare outlines, an approach to modal epistemology that is characterized by three distinctive features. First, the approach is agency-based: it locates the roots of our modal thought and knowledge in our experience of our own agency. Second, the approach is ambitious in that it takes the experience of certain modal properties in agency to be the sole distinctive feature of specifically modal thought and knowledge; everything that (...)
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  • Counterfactuals Versus Conceivability as a Guide to Modal Knowledge.Daniel Dohrn - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3637-3659.
    I compare two prominent approaches to knowledge of metaphysical modality, the more traditional approach via conceiving viz. imagining a scenario and a more recent approach via counterfactual reasoning. In particular, Timothy Williamson has claimed that the proper context for a modal exercise of imagination is a counterfactual supposition. I critically assess this claim, arguing that a purely conceivability/imaginability-based approach has a key advantage compared to a counterfactual-based one. It can take on board Williamson’s insights about the structure of modal imagination (...)
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  • Modal Empiricism Made Difficult: An Essay in the Meta-Epistemology of Modality.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Gothenburg
    Philosophers have always taken an interest not only in what is actually the case, but in what is necessarily the case and what could possibly be the case. These are questions of modality. Epistemologists of modality enquire into how we can know what is necessary and what is possible. This dissertation concerns the meta-epistemology of modality. It engages with the rules that govern construction and evaluation of theories in the epistemology of modality, by using modal empiricism – a form of (...)
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  • An Integrative Design? How Liberalised Modal Empiricism Fails the Integration Challenge.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2021 - Synthese 198 (6):5655-5673.
    The idea that justified modal belief can be accounted for in terms of empirically justified, non-modal belief is enjoying increasing popularity in the epistemology of modality. One alleged reason to prefer modal empiricism over more traditional, rationalist modal epistemologies is that empiricism avoids the problem with the integration challenge that arise for rationalism, assuming that we want to be realists about modal metaphysics. In this paper, I argue that given two very reasonable constraints on what it means to meet the (...)
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  • The Epistemological Objection to Modal Primitivism.Jennifer Wang - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):1887-1898.
    Modal primitivists hold that some modal truths are primitively true. They thus seem to face a special epistemological problem: how can primitive modal truths be known? The epistemological objection has not been adequately developed in the literature. I undertake to develop the objection, and then to argue that the best formulation of the epistemological objection targets all realists about modality, rather than the primitivist alone. Furthermore, the moves available to reductionists in response to the objection are also available to primitivists. (...)
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  • Superexplanations for Counterfactual Knowledge.Antonella Mallozzi - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1315-1337.
    I discuss several problems for Williamson’s counterfactual-theory of modal knowledge and argue that they have a common source, in that the theory neglects to elucidate the proper constraints on modal reasoning. Williamson puts forward an empirical hypothesis that rests on the role of counterfactual reasoning for modal knowledge. But he overlooks central questions of normative modal epistemology. In order for counterfactual reasoning to yield correct beliefs about modality, it needs to be suitably constrained. I argue that what is needed is, (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Modality and the Problem of Modal Epistemic Friction.Anand Jayprakash Vaidya & Michael Wallner - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):1909-1935.
    There are three theories in the epistemology of modality that have received sustained attention over the past 20 years: conceivability-theory, counterfactual-theory, and deduction-theory. In this paper we argue that all three face what we call the problem of modal epistemic friction. One consequence of the problem is that for any of the three accounts to yield modal knowledge, the account must provide an epistemology of essence. We discuss an attempt to fend off the problem within the context of the internalism (...)
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  • Essential Properties Are Super-Explanatory: Taming Metaphysical Modality.Marion Godman, Antonella Mallozzi & David Papineau - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association (3):1-19.
    This paper aims to build a bridge between two areas of philosophical research, the structure of kinds and metaphysical modality. Our central thesis is that kinds typically involve super-explanatory properties, and that these properties are therefore metaphysically essential to natural kinds. Philosophers of science who work on kinds tend to emphasize their complexity, and are generally resistant to any suggestion that they have “essences”. The complexities are real enough, but they should not be allowed to obscure the way that kinds (...)
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