Journal Article

The Adequacy of Genuine Modal Realism

Harold W. Noonan

in Mind

Volume 123, issue 491, pages 851-860
Published in print July 2014 | ISSN: 0026-4423
Published online September 2014 | e-ISSN: 1460-2113 | DOI:
The Adequacy of Genuine Modal Realism

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  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic
  • Philosophy of Mind


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What are the requirements on an adequate genuine modal realist analysis of modal discourse? One is material adequacy: the modal realist must provide for each candidate analysandum an analysans in the language of counterpart theory which by his lights has the same truth value as the candidate analysandum. Must the material biconditional joining these be necessarily true? This is the requirement of strict adequacy. It is not satisfied if Lewis’s 1968 scheme provides the analysis. John Divers puts forward a modification, which identifies cases of ‘advanced modalizing’ in which the modal operator is semantically redundant. Even with this modification modal realist analyses of statements of modal discourse will be strictly inadequate. Strict adequacy can be achieved by extending the redundancy interpretation to all de dicto modal statements. The price is the denial of de dicto contingency. But perhaps material adequacy is enough. If the modal realist has a systematic means of replacing every sentence of quantified modal logic which he considers true by a sentence of counterpart theory that he considers true, perhaps he need do no more. Still, traditionally philosophical analysis aims at strict adequacy so it is as well to know that this is a test the modal realist analysis fails unless he abandons de dicto contingency.

Journal Article.  4260 words. 

Subjects: Epistemology ; Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind

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