Existence and Modality in Kant: Lessons from Barcan

Philosophical Review 132 (1):1-41 (2023)
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Abstract

This essay considers Kant’s theory of modality in light of a debate in contemporary modal metaphysics and modal logic concerning the Barcan formulas. The comparison provides a new and fruitful perspective on Kant’s complex and sometimes confusing claims about possibility and necessity. Two central Kantian principles provide the starting point for the comparison: that the possible must be grounded in the actual and that existence is not a real predicate. Both are shown to be intimately connected to the Barcan formulas, and Kant’s views on what he distinguishes as three different kinds of modality are then considered in light of this connection.

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Andrew Stephenson
University of Southampton

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