Modal Epistemology

Edited by Anand Vaidya (San Jose State University)
About this topic
Summary Modal epistemology investigates the question: how do we know what is possible and what is necessary?  Metaphysical modality is the main kind of modality that is investigated here. There are five main subquestions in the area: (i) The metaphysical question: what is metaphysical modality? What is it for something to be metaphysically necessary or possible? How is metaphysical modality related to logical and physical modality? (ii) The intentional question: how is that we can have beliefs about what is metaphysically necessary and metaphysically possible?  (iii) The methodological question: what ways, if any, are there for forming reasonable beliefs and / or arriving at knowledge of metaphysical modality? (iv) The psychological question: what methods do we typically use in forming beliefs about metaphysical modality.  (iv) The normative question: how should we go about forming and justifying beliefs about metaphysical modality? Some the leading theories are the following: (a) metaphysical modality is identical to logical modality, it is a priori accessible, and we can use conceivability as guide for forming beliefs about metaphysical modality.  (b) metaphysical modality is identical to physical modality, it is neither a priori nor a posteriori, and we can use counterfactual reasoning in imagination to form beliefs about metaphysical modality. (c) metaphysical modality is neither reducible to logical nor physical modality, it is a priori accessible, but neither conceivability nor counterfactual reasoning is our basic guide. Rather, we come to know about metaphysical modality by reasoning from the essences of entities.  
Key works Historically Descartes defended a rationalist approach to our knowledge of possibility and necessity, while Hume defended an empiricist approach. In recent literature the dominant tradition of exploring the epistemology of modality has been rationalist. The key works in this tradition can be divided base on what kind of account is being offered. For general discussion of the epistemology of modality see Hale 2003. For conceivability-based accounts see Yablo 1993Tidman 1994Chalmers 2002. For skepticism about the epistemology of modality see Van Inwagen 1998. For understanding-based accounts see Bealer 2002 and Peacocke 1998. For counterfactual accounts see Williamson 2009. For essence-based accounts see Lowe 2012.
Introductions For an overview of contemporary research on the epistemology of modality, see Vaidya 2007.
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  1. Non-Uniformism and the Epistemology of Philosophically Interesting Modal Claims.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2021 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 98:629-656.
    Philosophers often make exotic-sounding modal claims, such as: “A timeless world is impossible”, “The laws of physics could have been different from what they are”, “There could have been an additional phenomenal colour”. Otherwise popular empiricist modal epistemologies in the contemporary literature cannot account for whatever epistemic justification we might have for making such modal claims. Those who do not, as a result of this, endorse scepticism with respect to their epistemic status typically suggest that they can be justified but (...)
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  2. The Epistemology of Modal Modeling.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling & Till Grüne-Yanoff - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (10):e12775.
    Philosophers of science have recently taken care to highlight different modeling practices where scientific models primarily contribute modal information, in the form of for example possibility claims, how-possibly explanations, or counterfactual conditionals. While examples abound, comparatively little attention is being paid to the question of under what conditions, and in virtue of what, models can perform this epistemic function. In this paper, we firstly delineate modal modeling from other modeling practices, and secondly reviewattempts to spell out and explain the epistemic (...)
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  3. Knowledge, Number and Reality: Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack.Nils Kürbis, Bahram Assadian & Jonathan Nassim (eds.) - 2022 - London: Bloomsbury.
    Centered around our knowledge of mathematical, modal, and a priori truths, this is a collection that celebrates the work of Keith Hossack, who, throughout his career, has made outstanding contributions to the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mathematics. Starting with a focus on our knowledge of abstract entities such as mathematical objects and the source of the necessity of mathematical truths, attention moves to the notion of necessity and its interaction with a priori knowledge: Is it the (...)
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  4. Is Crediblity a Guide to Possibility? A Challenge for Toy Models in Science.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Several philosophers of science claim that scientific toy models afford knowledge of possibility, but answers to the question of why toy models can be expected to competently play this role are scarce. The main line of reply is that toy models support possibility claims insofar as they are credible. I raise a challenge for this credibility-thesis, drawing on a familiar problem for imagination-based modal epistemologies, and argue that it remains unanswered in the current literature. The credibility-thesis has a long way (...)
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  5. Agentive Modality and the Structure of Modal Knowledge.Felipe Morales Carbonell - 2021 - Dissertation,
    This thesis develops a theory about the structure of modal judgment and knowledge. Arguing in favour of pluralism about the source of modal knowledge, it focuses on the questions of the varieties of modal judgment and their relations, the function of modal judgment and the scope of modal knowledge. It offers a hypothesis about the development of the framework of modal knowledge, grounding it on the capacity to evaluate temporal judgments, from which the capacity to evaluate alternatives comes from, and (...)
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  6. Epistemic Projects, Indispensability, and the Structure of Modal Thought.Felipe Morales Carbonell - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):611-638.
    I argue that modal epistemology should pay more attention to questions about the structure and function of modal thought. We can treat these questions from synchronic and diachronic angles. From a synchronic perspective, I consider whether a general argument for the epistemic support of modal though can be made on the basis of modal thoughs’s indispensability for what Enoch and Schechter (2008) call rationally required epistemic projects. After formulating the argument, I defend it from various objections. I also examine the (...)
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  7. A Case Study in Formalizing Contingent a Priori Claims.Landon D. C. Elkind - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):571-591.
    Some philosophers, like Kripke, Williamson, Hawthorne, and Turri, have offered examples of claims that are allegedly contingent and a priori justifiable. If any of these examples is genuine, this would upend the traditional epistemological classification on which (a) all and only a priori justifiable claims are necessary and (b) all and only a posteriori ones are contingent. I argue here that these examples are not genuine. This conclusion is not new, but the strategy pursued here is to formalize these muchdiscussed (...)
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  8. Conceivability, Haecceities, and Essence.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This essay aims to redress the contention that epistemic possibility cannot be a guide to the principles of modal metaphysics. I argue that the interaction between the two-dimensional intensional framework and the mereological parthood relation enables epistemic possibilities to target the haecceitistic properties of individuals. I specify, then, a two-dimensional intensional formula encoding the relation between the epistemic possibility of haecceity comprehension and its metaphysical possibility. I examine the Julius Caesar problem as a test case. I then generalize the approach (...)
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  9. The Nature of Impossibility.Martin Vacek - 2019 - Bratislava, Slovakia: VEDA.
    Possible-worlds semantics proved itself as a strong tool in analysing the statements of actuality, possibility, contingency and necessity. But impossible phenomena go beyond the expressive power of the apparatus. The proponents of possible-worlds apparatus thus owe us at least three stories. The first one is the story about ontological nature of possible worlds, the second one is the story about the theoretical role such entities play and the third one is the story about the impossible. Modal Realism (MR) provides us (...)
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  10. Modal Truth : Integrating the Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Semantics of the Necessary and the Possible.Lars Enden - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Washington
    The integration challenge for modality states that metaphysical theories of modality tend to fail in one of two ways: either they render the meanings of modal sentences mysterious, or they render modal knowledge mysterious. I argue that there are specific semantic and epistemic constraints on metaphysics implied by the integration challenge and that a plausible metaphysical theory of modality will satisfy both of them. I further argue that no popular metaphysical theory of modality simultaneously satisfies both of the constraints. Therefore, (...)
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  11. The Modal Status of Contextually A Priori Arithmetical Truths.Markus Pantsar - 2016 - In Francesca Boccuni & Andrea Sereni (eds.), Objectivity, Realism, and Proof. Filmat Studies in the Philosophy of Mathematics. Springer Verlag.
    In Pantsar, an outline for an empirically feasible epistemological theory of arithmetic is presented. According to that theory, arithmetical knowledge is based on biological primitives but in the resulting empirical context develops an essentially a priori character. Such contextual a priori theory of arithmetical knowledge can explain two of the three characteristics that are usually associated with mathematical knowledge: that it appears to be a priori and objective. In this paper it is argued that it can also explain the third (...)
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  12. Conceivability and Modal Knowledge.Albert Casullo - 2012 - In Essays on A priori Knowledge and Justification. New York, NY, USA: pp. 271-288.
    Christopher Hill contends that the metaphysical modalities can be reductively explained in terms of the subjunctive conditional and that this reductive explanation yields two tests for determining the metaphysical modality of a proposition. He goes on to argue that his reductive account of the metaphysical modalities in conjunction with his account of modal knowledge underwrites the further conclusion that conceivability does not provide a reliable test for metaphysical possibility. I argue (1) that Hill’s reductive explanation of the metaphysical modalities in (...)
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  13. Knowledge and Modality.Albert Casullo - 2006 - In D. M. Borchert (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed. Detroit, MI, USA: pp. 100-102.
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  14. A. A. Rini and M. J. Cresswell, The World-Time Parallel. Tense and Modality in Logic and Metaphysics. Reviewed By.Kristie Miller - 2013 - Philosophy in Review 33 (1):70-73.
    This book advertises itself as an exploration of the world-time parallel, that is, the parallel between the modal dimension, on the one hand, and the temporal dimension, on the other. It is that, and much more. As the authors point out, there is reasonable agreement that we can model times, through temporal logic, in ways that are analogous to those by which we model modality through the logic of possible worlds. But this formal parallel has almost universally been taken to (...)
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  15. Modal Epistemology.E. Weber & T. DeMey (eds.) - 2004 - Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie vor Wetenschappen en Kunsten.
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  16. The Essential but Implicit Role of Modal Concepts in Science.Patrick Suppes - 1972 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1972:305 - 314.
Conceivability, Imagination, and Possibility
  1. What Should the Bayesian Do When Their Awareness Grows?Richard Pettigrew - manuscript
    Bayesians have a well-developed account of how you should change your credences when you learn new evidence; that is, when your body of evidence grows. What's more, they have a range of epistemic and pragmatic arguments that support that account. But they do not have a satisfactory account of when and how you should change your credences when you become aware of new possibilities; that is, when your awareness grows. In this paper, I consider each of the arguments for the (...)
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  2. Grounding Interventionism: Conceptual and Epistemological Challenges.Amanda Bryant - forthcoming - Metaphilosophy.
    Philosophers have recently highlighted substantial affinities between causation and grounding, which has inclined some to import the conceptual and formal resources of causal interventionism into the metaphysics of grounding. The prospect of grounding interventionism raises two important questions: exactly what are grounding interventions, and why should we think they enable knowledge of grounding? This paper will approach these questions by examining how causal interventionists have addressed (or might address) analogous questions and then comparing the available options for grounding interventionism. I (...)
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  3. Do Qualia Exist Necessarily?Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Why is there something rather than nothing? I don't know. But I give an argument that qualia exist *necessarily*. The *possibility* of the existence of red qualia requires actual red qualia to specify what the possibility is a possibility *of*.
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  4. Possibility and Pluralism.William Savery - 1934 - University of California Publications in Philosophy 17:201-223.
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  5. Two-Dimensional Semantics and Identity Statements.Kai-Yee Wong - 2021 - In The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. Routledge. pp. 237-256.
    In contrast to standard possible worlds semantics, possible worlds in a two-dimensional semantic framework play two kinds of roles, rather than just one. This allows the framework to assign two kinds of intensions to expressions, rather than just one. Its fruitful use in explicating modal operators and the meanings of referential expressions like indexicals has led to two-dimensional accounts that seek to revive the Fregean conception of meaning, or more specifically the descriptivist view of reference, which has fallen into disrepute (...)
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  6. The Epistemology of Modality.Antonella Mallozzi, Michael Wallner & Anand Vaidya - 2021 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  7. Chalmers and Semantics.Panu Raatikainen - 2021 - Theoria 87 (5):1193-1221.
    David Chalmers’ two-dimensionalism is an ambitious philosophical program that aims to “ground” or “construct” Fregean meanings and restore “the golden triangle” of apriority, necessity, and meaning that Kripke seemingly broke. This paper aims to examine critically what Chalmers’ theory can in reality achieve. It is argued that the theory faces severe challenges. There are some gaps in the overall arguments, and the reasoning is in some places somewhat circular. Chalmers’ theory is effectively founded on certain strong philosophical assumptions. It is (...)
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  8. Two Problems in Spinoza's Theory of Mind.James Van Cleve - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.
    My aim in what follows is to expound and (if possible) resolve two problems in Spinoza’s theory of mind. The first problem is how Spinoza can accept a key premise in Descartes’s argument for dualism—that thought and extension are separately conceivable, “one without the help of the other”—without accepting Descartes’s conclusion that no substance is both thinking and extended. Resolving this problem will require us to consider a crucial ambiguity in the notion of conceiving one thing without another, the credentials (...)
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  9. Thinking Beyond Imagining.Jill Cumby - forthcoming - Synthese:1-13.
    This paper defends a rational account of conceivability according to which conceiving is a kind of modal thinking that is distinct from imagining effectively allowing us to think beyond what we can imagine, and that we are subject to rational rather than experiential constraints when we do so. Defending this view involves appealing to the perspective of an idealized agent and I’ll argue that this appeal is not worrisome given an “objective” view of propositional justification.
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  10. An Imaginative Person’s Guide to Objective Modality.Derek Lam - forthcoming - In Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.), Epistemic Uses of Imagination. Routledge.
    Imagination is a source of evidence for objective modality. It is through this epistemic connection that the idea of modality first gains traction in our intellectual life. A proper theory of modality should be able to explain our imagination’s modal epistemic behaviors. This chapter highlights a peculiar asymmetry regarding epistemic defeat for imagination-based modal justification. Whereas imagination-based evidence for possibility cannot be undermined by information about the causal origin of our imaginings, unimaginability-based evidence for impossibility can be undermined by information (...)
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  11. The Epistemic Idleness of Conceivability.M. Oreste Fiocco - 2021 - In Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 167-179.
    One’s involvement with the world seems limited merely to things as they are; hence, modal knowledge—knowledge of what could be or must be simpliciter—should be perplexing. Traditionally, the notion of conceivability has been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. I believe one has a good deal of such knowledge (though perhaps less than others presume one has). I maintain, however, that conceiving is utterly idle in acquiring modal knowledge: the conceivability of a proposition can provide no evidence (...)
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  12. The Blurred Line Between Epistemic and Metaphysical Modalities in the Modal Epistemology of Imagination.Iñaki Xavier Larrauri Pertierra - manuscript
    Modal epistemologies that rely on a fallibilism about modal claims have been gaining traction over the years. This paper critically discusses the accounts of Kung (2009; 2010; 2016) and Dohrn (2018; 2019; 2020) and argues that they are invariably susceptible to being read as entailing claims of epistemic possibility. Both Kung and Dohrn seek to ground modal intuitions on non-modal ones, and primarily appeal to the modalizing capacity of imagination to aid in the discovery of modal truths. However, insofar as (...)
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  13. Eidos, fatto, possibilità. Aspetti del rapporto tra scienza e fatticità in Husserl.Francesco Pisano - 2017 - In Antonio Branca (ed.), Possibilità. Dell'uomo e delle cose. Roma RM, Italia: pp. 37-61.
  14. Una fenomenologia (del) possibile. Crisi del significato e senso della contingenza tra Heidegger e Richir.Francesco Pisano - 2019 - In Anna Pia Ruoppo (ed.), Essere eEssere e Tempo novanta anni dopo: attualità e inattualità dell'analitica esistenziale. Napoli NA, Italia: pp. 185-197.
    I present some aspects of Sein und Zeit’s phenomenology of possibility as a key feature of Heidegger’s theoretical confrontation with the crisis of European culture. I draw from paragraphs 73-74 for an inquiry into the relation between possibility and historicity within the structure of the Dasein. Specifically, I consider the concept of repetition in light of Heidegger’s idea that authentic historicity is to be grounded in temporality. Many interpreters found the concept of repetition to be the mark of a conservative (...)
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  15. Husserlian Intentionality and Contingent Universals.Nicola Spinelli - 2017 - Argumenta 2 (2):309-325.
    Can one hold both that universals exist in the strongest sense (i.e., neither in language nor in thought, nor in their instances) and that they exist contingently—and still make sense? Edmund Husserl thought so. In this paper I present a version of his view regimented in terms of modal logic cum possible-world semantics. Crucial to the picture is the distinction between two accessibility relations with different structural properties. These relations are cashed out in terms of two Husserlian notions of imagination: (...)
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  16. Epistemic Uses of Imagination.Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.) - 2021 - Routledge.
    Contents: 1) Peter Kung, Why We Need Something Like Imagery; 2) Derek Lam, An Imaginative Person’s Guide to Objective Modality; 3) Rebecca Hanrahan, Crossing Rivers: Imagination and Real Possibilities; 4) Michael Omoge, Imagination, Metaphysical Modality, and Modal Psychology; 5) Joshua Myers, Reasoning with Imagination; 6) Franz Berto, Equivalence in Imagination; 7) Christopher Badura, How Imagination Can Justify; 8) Antonella Mallozzi, Imagination, Inference, and Apriority; 9) Margherita Arcangeli, Narratives and Thought Experiments: Restoring the Role of Imagination; 10) Margot Strohminger, Two Ways (...)
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  17. Impossible Fiction Part II: Lessons for Mind, Language and Epistemology.Daniel Nolan - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (2):1-12.
    Abstract Impossible fictions have lessons to teach us about linguistic representation, about mental content and concepts, and about uses of conceivability in epistemology. An adequate theory of impossible fictions may require theories of meaning that can distinguish between different impossibilities; a theory of conceptual truth that allows us to make useful sense of a variety of conceptual falsehoods; and a theory of our understanding of necessity and possibility that permits impossibilities to be conceived. After discussing these questions, strategies for resisting (...)
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  18. Imagery and Possibility.Dominic Gregory - 2020 - Noûs 54 (4):755-773.
    We often ascribe possibility to the scenes that are displayed by mental or nonmental sensory images. The paper presents a novel argument for thinking that we are prima facie justified in ascribing metaphysical possibility to what is displayed by suitable visual images, and it argues that many of our imagery‐based ascriptions of metaphysical possibility are therefore prima facie justified. Some potential objections to the arguments are discussed, and some potential extensions of them, to cover nonvisual forms of imagery and nonmetaphysical (...)
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  19. Imagining Fictional Contradictions.Michel-Antoine Xhignesse - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3169-3188.
    It is widely believed, among philosophers of literature, that imagining contradictions is as easy as telling or reading a story with contradictory content. Italo Calvino’s The Nonexistent Knight, for instance, concerns a knight who performs many brave deeds, but who does not exist. Anything at all, they argue, can be true in a story, including contradictions and other impossibilia. While most will readily concede that we cannot objectually imagine contradictions, they nevertheless insist that we can propositionally imagine them, and regularly (...)
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  20. The Actually Possible: An Essay in Modal Psychology.Michael Omoge - 2020 - Dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal
    The problem of justification for our modal beliefs is an old modal epistemological problem that has hitherto been addressed rationalistically, i.e., without listening to the sciences that study our experiences of modality. Here, I argue that taking a closer look at the architectures of perception and imagination, affords one way of addressing the problem for practical and metaphysical modal beliefs, respectively. The end result is a naturalistic accounts of imaginative and perceptual modal justification.
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  21. Invasive Weeds in Parmenides' Garden.Olga Ramirez Calle - 2020 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 20 (60):391-412.
    The paper attempts to conciliate the important distinction between what-is, or exists, and what-is-not _thereby supporting Russell’s existential analysis_ with some Meinongian insights. For this purpose, it surveys the varied inhabitants of the realm of ‘non-being’ and tries to clarify their diverse statuses. The position that results makes it possible to rescue them back in surprising but non-threatening form, leaving our ontology safe from contradiction.
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  22. Consciousness, Conceivability, and Intrinsic Reduction.Jonathon VandenHombergh - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (5):1129-1151.
    Conceivability arguments constitute a serious threat against reductive physicalism. Recently, a number of authors have proven and characterized a devastating logical truth, centered on these arguments: namely, that their soundness entails the inconceivability of reductive physicalism. In this paper, I demonstrate that is only a logical truth when reductive physicalism is interpreted in its stronger, intrinsic sense, as opposed to its weaker—yet considerably more popular—extrinsic sense. The basic idea generalizes: perhaps surprisingly, stronger forms of reduction are uniquely resistant to the (...)
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  23. Making Sorrow Sweet: Emotion and Empathy in the Experience of Fiction. In A. Houen (Ed.), Affect and Literature (Cambridge Critical Concepts, Pp. 190-210). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Doi:10.1017/9781108339339.011.A. E. Denham, A. E. Denham & A. Denham - 2020 - In Denham, A. (2020). Making Sorrow Sweet: Emotion and Empathy in the Experience of Fiction. In A. Houen (Ed.), Affect and Literature (Cambridge Critical Concepts, pp. 190-210). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108339339.011. Cambridge, UK: pp. 190-210.
    The nature and consequences of readers’ affective engagement with literature has, in recent years, captured the attention of experimental psychologists and philosophers alike. Psychological studies have focused principally on the causal mechanisms explaining our affective interactions with fictions, prescinding from questions concerning their rational justifiability. Transportation Theory, for instance, has sought to map out the mechanisms the reader tracks the narrative experientially, mirroring its descriptions through first-personal perceptual imaginings, affective and motor responses and even evaluative beliefs. Analytical philosophers, by contrast, (...)
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  24. The Idea of Immortality as an Imaginative Projection of an Indefinite Moral Future.Stephen R. Palmquist - 2010 - Akten des XI. Kant-Kongresses 2:925-936.
    In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant famously includes immortality as one of the three “ideas” that give rise to “unavoidable problems of reason” (KrV, B7)1 and thereby constitute the basic subject-matter of metaphysics. Interpreters have paid a great deal of attention to the other two ideas, God and freedom; yet very few studies of Kantian immortality have ever been undertaken. This should come as no surprise, once we realize that Kant himself used the word “immortality” and its cognates only (...)
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  25. Imaginative Resistance and Modal Knowledge.Daniel Nolan - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):661-685.
    Readers of fictions sometimes resist taking certain kinds of claims to be true according to those fictions, even when they appear explicitly or follow from applying ordinary principles of interpretation. This "imaginative resistance" is often taken to be significant for a range of philosophical projects outside aesthetics, including giving us evidence about what is possible and what is impossible, as well as the limits of conceivability, or readers' normative commitments. I will argue that this phenomenon cannot do the theoretical work (...)
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  26. On the Difference Between Realistic and Fantastic Imagining.Christopher Gauker - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    When we imaginatively picture what might happen, we may take what we imagine to be either realistic or fantastic. A wine glass falling to the floor and shattering is realistic. A wine glass falling and morphing into a bird and flying away is fantastic. What does the distinction consist in? Two important necessary conditions are here defined. The first is a condition on the realistic representation of spatial configuration, grounded in an account of the imagistic representation of spatial configuration. The (...)
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  27. Correct Conceivability and its Role in the Epistemology of Modality.Robert Michels - 2020 - Les Principes Métaphysiques.
    The starting point of this paper is an argument to the conclusion that the definition of metaphysical possibility in terms of correct conceivability, conceivability informed by knowledge of relevant essences, found in Rosen (2006) is equivalent to a version of the essentialist definition of metaphysical necessity. This argument appears to show that correct conceivability is a notion of conceivability by name only and is therefore of no interest to epistemologists of modality. In this paper, I present the equivalence argument, explain (...)
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  28. Learning Through Simulation.Sara Aronowitz & Tania Lombrozo - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20.
    Mental simulation — such as imagining tilting a glass to figure out the angle at which water would spill — can be a way of coming to know the answer to an internally or externally posed query. Is this form of learning a species of inference or a form of observation? We argue that it is neither: learning through simulation is a genuinely distinct form of learning. On our account, simulation can provide knowledge of the answer to a query even (...)
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  29. Martha Kneale on Why Metaphysical Necessities Are Not A Priori.Jessica Leech - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (4):389-409.
    In her 1938 paper ‘Logical and Metaphysical Necessity’, Martha Kneale introduces the necessary a posteriori. I present a critical summary of Kneale's argument that so-called ‘metaphysical propositions’ are necessary but not a priori. I argue that Kneale is well placed to offer a template for reconciling conceivability approaches to modal epistemology with the post-Kripkean trend for taking metaphysical necessities to have their source in mind-independent reality.
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  30. Imaginability and Possibility.Yingying Tang - 2019 - Studies in Logic 12 (3):102-114.
    Recently there is heated discussion on the puzzle of imaginative resistance, i.e. the puzzle of why it is difficult to imagine certain counterfactual scenarios. After examining Brian Weatherson’s “In-Virtue-Of Hypothesis”, I put forward an alternative hypothesis that all and only conceptual impossibilities are unimaginable. I argue that my account has some theoretical advantages over the In-Virtue-Of hypothesis. I consider some challenges to my hypothesis and then attempt to show that those objections are unsuccessful.
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  31. Everyday Scientific Imagination: A Qualitative Study of the Uses, Norms, and Pedagogy of Imagination in Science.Michael T. Stuart - 2019 - Science & Education 28 (6-7):711-730.
    Imagination is necessary for scientific practice, yet there are no in vivo sociological studies on the ways that imagination is taught, thought of, or evaluated by scientists. This article begins to remedy this by presenting the results of a qualitative study performed on two systems biology laboratories. I found that the more advanced a participant was in their scientific career, the more they valued imagination. Further, positive attitudes toward imagination were primarily due to the perceived role of imagination in problem-solving. (...)
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  32. New Directions in the Epistemology of Modality, Special Issue of Synthese.Antonella Mallozzi (ed.) - 2021 - Springer.
    The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. In the Introduction (penultimate draft available for download), I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the present (...)
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  33. The Life of Imagination: Revealing and Making the World.Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei - 2018 - New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press.
    Imagination allows us to step out of the ordinary but also to transform it through our sense of wonder and play, artistic inspiration and innovation, or the eureka moment of a scientific breakthrough. In this book, Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei offers a groundbreaking new understanding of its place in everyday experience as well as the heights of creative achievement. -/- The Life of Imagination delivers a new conception of imagination that places it at the heart of our engagement with the world—thinking, (...)
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  34. Modal Epistemology Made Concrete.Daniel Dohrn - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2455-2475.
    Many philosophers since Hume have accepted that imagining/conceiving a scenario is our prime guide to knowing its possibility. Stephen Yablo provided a more systematic criterion: one is justified in judging that p is possible if one can imagine a world which one takes to verify p. I defend a version of Yablo’s criterion against van Inwagen’s moderate modal scepticism. Van Inwagen’s key argument is that we cannot satisfy Yablo’s criterion because we are not in a position to spell out far-fetched (...)
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