Descartes's Theory of Modality

Jonathan Bennett

in Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198250920
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597060 | DOI:

Series: Learning from Six Philosophers (2 Volumes)

 Descartes's Theory of Modality

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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Expounds and defends the thesis that Descartes, most of the time, accepted a subjectivist theory of modality according to which a proposition's being necessary is its relating in a certain way to our thought. Several difficult and long‐standing problems, and some others that have been neglected, are solved or lessened by this thesis. One is voluntarism—the thesis that God voluntarily gives modal truths their truth‐value. It is shown that Descartes is nearly always careful to say not that God cannot lie but that he does not lie.

Keywords: Descartes; God; modality; subjectivism; voluntarism

Chapter.  8008 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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