Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1315-1337 (2021)

Authors
Antonella Mallozzi
Providence College
Abstract
I discuss several problems for Williamson’s counterfactual-theory of modal knowledge and argue that they have a common source, in that the theory neglects to elucidate the proper constraints on modal reasoning. Williamson puts forward an empirical hypothesis that rests on the role of counterfactual reasoning for modal knowledge. But he overlooks central questions of normative modal epistemology. In order for counterfactual reasoning to yield correct beliefs about modality, it needs to be suitably constrained. I argue that what is needed is, specifically, information concerning the nature or essence of things. By integrating this information, essentialist deduction arguably provides a better account of our knowledge of modality. Furthermore, I argue that essences have distinctive causal and explanatory powers—indeed, essences are superexplanatory for how things are. Compared to Williamson’s counterfactual-theory, superexplanatory essentialism clarifies what the proper constraints on modal reasoning are, and why they have such a special status.
Keywords Modal epistemology  Counterfactual knowledge  Essentialism  Williamson  Explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-020-01477-0
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References found in this work BETA

Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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Citations of this work BETA

Possibility Precedes Actuality.Tuomas E. Tahko - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
Imagination, Inference, and Apriority.Antonella Mallozzi - 2021 - In Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.), The Epistemic Uses of Imagination. Routledge.

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