Modals and Modal Epistemology

In Amy Kind & Peter Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 124-144 (2016)
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I distinguish (§1) two projects in modal epistemology—one about how we come to know modal truths, and one about why we have the ability so to come to know. The latter, I suggest, (§§2–3) is amenable to an evolutionary treatment in terms of general capacities developed to evaluate quotidian modal claims. I compare (§4) this approach to a recent suggestion in a similar spirit by Christopher Hill and Timothy Williamson, emphasizing counterfactual conditionals instead of quotidian modals; I argue that while there are some reasons to prefer the quotidian modals approach, there are none favoring the Hill/Williamson counterfactual approach. I conclude (§5) with a suggestion that the remaining questions both approaches leave unanswered ought not to be too troubling.

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Jonathan Ichikawa
University of British Columbia


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