Justin Clarke-Doane
Columbia University
In this article, we discuss a simple argument that modal metaphysics is misconceived, and responses to it. Unlike Quine’s, this argument begins with the banal observation that there are different candidate interpretations of the predicate ‘could have been the case’. This is analogous to the observation that there are different candidate interpretations of the predicate ‘is a member of’. The argument then infers that the search for metaphysical necessities is misguided in much the way the ‘set-theoretic pluralist’ (Clarke-Doane & Hamkins [2017]) claims that the search for the true axioms of set theory is. We show that the obvious responses to this argument fail. However, a new response has emerged that purports to prove, from higher order logical principles, that metaphysical possibility is the broadest kind of possibility applying to propositions, and is to that extent special. We distill two lines of reasoning from the literature, and argue that their import depends on premises that a ‘modal pluralist’ should deny. Both presuppose that there is a unique typed hierarchy, which is what the modal pluralist, in the context of higher-order logic, should disavow. In other words, both presupposes that there is a unique candidate for what higher-order claims could mean. We consider the worry that, in a higher-order setting, modal pluralism faces an insuperable problem of articulation, collapses into modal monism, is vulnerable to the Russell-Myhill paradox, or even contravenes the truism that there is a unique actual world, and argue that these worries are misplaced. We also sketch the bearing of the resulting ‘Higher Order Pluralism’ on the theory of content. One upshot is that, if Higher Order Pluralism is true, then there is no fixed metatheory from which to characterize higher order reality.
Keywords modality, metaphysical, necessity, pluralism, set theory, multiverse, axioms, logic, broadest, absolute, possibility, quantifier variance, logic, higher-order, relativism, logical necessity, perspectivalism, deflationism
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Meta‐Skepticism.Risberg Olle - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

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