Two Theories of Modality: A Reply to von Wachter
MacBride (Fraser)
Source: Metaphysica 6.1 (2005), pp. 111-128
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Without the use of modal1 discourse to aid us we should be unable to express many of the most fundamental facts - facts that are fundamental to our understanding of science, mathematics and human agency.
  2. But the best efforts of philosophers to come to a convincing account of modal2 discourse have been bedevilled by a welter of ideological, epistemological and ontological difficulties.
  3. For this reason many philosophers have endeavoured to provide a ‘reduction’ of modal3 discourse. It is a philosophical problem in itself to establish just what a reduction must achieve in order to be successful (whether in connection with modality4, the nature of the mental or some other subject matter). Nevertheless, it is clear that – in some sense or other – a reduction of modality5 will, if successful, display how facts expressed with the aid of modal6 vocabulary ultimately depend upon facts that need not be expressed in this way.
  4. A variety of contrasting strategies for executing a modal7 reduction have been proposed.
    1. Conceptual or analytical reductions seek to show that modal8 concepts may be analysed into concepts that do not rely upon modal9 vocabulary for their expression.
    2. By contrast ontological reductions forswear the idea that modal10 concepts admit of non-modal11 analyses or translates. They maintain instead that the truth or falsity of modal12 claims depends - in a manner that may be perspicuously presented to the intellect without benefit of conceptual analyses- upon the states of an underlying reality, a reality that may be described with recourse to modal13 vocabulary.

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