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Modal potentialism as proposed by Barbara Vetter (2015) is the view that every possibility is grounded in something having a potentiality. Drawing from work by Jessica Leech (2017), Samuel Kimpton-Nye (2021) argues that potentialists can have an S5 modal logic. I present a novel argument to the conclusion that the most straightforward way of spelling out modal potentialism cannot validate an S5 modal logic. Then I will propose a slightly tweaked version of modal potentialism that can validate an S5 modal logic and still does justice to the core claim of potentialism.
The dissertation introduces new sequent-calculi for free first- and second-order logic, and a hyper-sequent calculus for modal logics K, D, T, B, S4, and S5; to attain the calculi for the stronger modal logics, only external structural rules need to be added to the calculus for K, while operational and internal structural rules remain the same. Completeness and cut-elimination are proved for all calculi presented.
Philosophically, the dissertation develops an inferentialist, or proof-theoretic, theory of meaning. It takes as a starting point that the sense of a sentence is determined by the rules governing its use. In particular, there are two features of the use of a sentence that jointly determine its sense, the conditions under which it is coherent to assert that sentence and the conditions under which it is coherent to deny that sentence. The dissertation develops a theory of quantification as marking coherent ways a language can be expanded and modality as the means by which we can reflect on the norms governing the assertion and denial conditions of our language. If the view of quantification that is argued for is correct, then there is no tension between second-order quantification and nominalism. In particular, the ontological commitments one can incur through the use of a quantifier depend wholly on the ontological commitments one can incur through the use of atomic sentences. The dissertation concludes by applying the developed theory of meaning to the metaphysical issue of necessitism and contingentism. Two objections to a logic of contingentism are raised and addressed. The resulting logic is shown to meet all the requirement that the dissertation lays out for a theory of meaning for quantifiers and modal operators.
Jonathan Schaffer argues against a necessary connection between properties and laws. He takes this to be a question of what possible worlds we ought to countenance in our best theories of modality, counterfactuals, etc. In doing so, he unfairly rigs the game in favor of contingentism. I argue that the necessitarian can resist Schaffer’s conclusion while accepting his key premise that our best theories of modality, counterfactuals, etc. require a very wide range of things called ‘possible worlds’. However, the necessitarian can and should insist that, in many cases, these worlds are not metaphysically possible. I will further argue that, having taken such a stance, the necessitarian has additional resources to respond to Schaffer’s other arguments against the view.
Kripke models, interpreted realistically, have difficulty making sense of the thesis that there might have existed things that do not in fact exist, since a Kripke model in which this thesis is true requires a model structure in which there are possible worlds with domains that contain things that do not exist. This paper argues that we can use Kripke models as representational devices that allow us to give a realistic interpretation of a modal language. The method of doing this is sketched, with the help of an analogy with a Galilean relativist theory of spatial properties and relations.
This article explores the connection between two theses: the principle of conditional excluded middle for the counterfactual conditional, and the claim that it is a contingent matter which (coarse grained) propositions there are. Both theses enjoy wide support, and have been defended at length by Robert Stalnaker. We will argue that, given plausible background assumptions, these two principles are incompatible, provided that conditional excluded middle is understood in a certain modalized way. We then show that some (although not all) arguments for conditional excluded middle can in fact be extended to motivate this modalized version of the principle.
Robert Stalnaker has recently advocated propositional contingentism, the claim that it is contingent what propositions there are. He has proposed a philosophical theory of contingency in what propositions there are and sketched a possible worlds model theory for it. In this paper, such models are used to interpret two propositional modal languages: one containing an existential propositional quantifier, and one containing an existential propositional operator. It is shown that the resulting logic containing an existential quantifier is not recursively axiomatizable, as it is recursively isomorphic to second-order logic, and a natural candidate axiomatization for the resulting logic containing an existential operator is shown to be incomplete.
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