Epistemologists of modality wanted

Synthese 202 (6):1-20 (2023)
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Metaphysics-first approaches dominate the current literature in the epistemology of modality. According to metaphysics-firsters, metaphysical theses have an important role in the justification of modal epistemologies. For example, the thesis that essentialist truths constitute the metaphysical grounds of modal truths is meant to have an important role in the justification of essentialist modal epistemologies. In this article, we argue against this approach. We first pick up some of the groundwork on behalf of the metaphysics-firsters and explicitly spell out potential arguments for their view. However, despite some initial plausibility, these arguments are ultimately found wanting. We conclude that the metaphysics-first approach lacks motivation and puts far too stringent demands upon modal epistemologists.

Author Profiles

Tom Schoonen
University of Amsterdam
Samuel Boardman
Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden


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