Stalnaker on the Interaction of Modality with Quantification and Identity
Williamson (Timothy)
Source: To appear in a festschrift for Robert Stalnaker, edited by Judith Thomson (Oxford University Press)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Logic is sometimes conceived as metaphysically neutral, so that nothing controversial in metaphysics is logically valid. That conception devastates logic. Just about every putative principle of logic has been contested on metaphysical grounds.
  2. According to some, future contingencies violate the law of excluded middle; according to others, the set of all sets that are not members of themselves makes a contradiction true. Even the structural principle that chaining together valid arguments yields a valid argument has been rejected in response to sorites1 paradoxes. In each case, a deviant metaphysics corresponds to the deviant logic.
  3. Of course, if one is trying to persuade deviant metaphysicians of the error of their ways, one is unlikely to get far by relying on logical principles that they reject. But that obvious dialectical exigency stably marks out no realm of logic. Each logical principle has persuasive force in some dialectical contexts and not in others. We do better to admit that logic has metaphysically contentious implications, and embrace them ─ if we know what they are.
  4. Logic and metaphysics are not mutually exclusive. They overlap in the logic and metaphysics of existence, identity and possibility, for instance. The exploration (but not total conquest) of that area was one of the great achievements of twentieth century philosophy.
  5. Here, as in so many other areas, Bob Stalnaker has played an exemplary role, as a voice for metaphysical sobriety and the careful archaeology of logical structure. His intervention clarifies and deepens every debate in which he participates.
  6. In this essay I will examine the innovative argument of his 1994 paper "Stalnaker (Robert) - The Interaction Of Modality with Quantification and Identity".


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