•  
  •  
 

Keywords

philosophy, analytic philosophy, history of philosophy

Abstract

Despite the otherwise-dominant trends towards physicalism and naturalism in philosophy, it has become increasingly common for metaphysicians to accept the existence either of modal facts and properties, or of Lewisian possible worlds. This paper raises the historical question: why did these heavyweight realist views come into prominence? The answer is that they have arisen in response to the demand to find truthmakers for our modal statements. But this demand presupposes that modal statements are descriptive claims in need of truthmakers. This presupposition was, however, rejected by many earlier analytic philosophers, including the logical positivists, Wittgenstein, Ryle and Sellars, all of whom denied that (at least certain kinds of) modal statement were descriptive at all. Yet the non-descriptivist approach has largely fallen out of discussion and out of philosophical consciousness. In this paper I examine why non-descriptivist views first came into and then fell out of favor, and consider what the prospects are for reviving this more deflationary approach to modality.

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

References

Ayer, A. J. 1936/1952. Language, Truth and Logic. New York: Dover.

Ayer, A. J. 1985. Wittgenstein. New York: Random House.

Baker, Gordon. 1988. Wittgenstein, Frege and the Vienna Circle. Oxford: Blackwell.

Blackburn, Simon. 1993. Essays in Quasi-Realism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Boghossian, Paul. 1996. ‘Analyticity Reconsidered’. Nous 30, no. 3: 360–391.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2216275

Boghossian, Paul. 1997. ‘Analyticity’. In Bob Hale & Crispin Wright (eds.) ‘A Companion to the Philosophy of Language’, Oxford: Blackwell.

Brandom, Robert. 2008. Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542871.001.0001

Carnap, Rudolf. 1947. Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Creath, Richard. 2004. ‘Quine on the Intelligibility and Relevance of Analyticity’. In Roger F. Gibson (ed.) ‘The Cambridge Companion to Quine’, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dummett, Michael. 1959. ‘Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Mathematics’. Philosophical Review 68, no. 3: 324–348.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2182566

Dummett, Michael. 1991. The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Elder, Crawford. 2004. Real Natures and Familiar Objects. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Glock, Hans-Johann. 1996. ‘Necessity and Normativity’. In Hans Sluga & David G. Stern (eds.) ‘The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein’, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grover, D., Camp, J., Jr. & Belnap, N. D., Jr. 1975. ‘A Prosentential Theory of Truth’. Philosophical Studies 27: 73–124.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01209340

Hacker, P. M. S. 1996. Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hilbert, David. 1899/1999. Foundations of Geometry. Peru, Illinois: Open Court. Translated by Leo Unger.

Kripke, Saul. 1980. Naming and Necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lewis, David K. 1986. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mackie, J. L. 1974. ‘De what Re is de Re Modality?’ Journal of Philosophy 71, no. 16: 551–561.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2025231

Quine, W. V. O. 1935/1976. ‘Truth by Convention’. In ‘The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays’, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, revised and enlarged ed.

Quine, W. V. O. 1953/2001. ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’. In ‘From a Logical Point of View’, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Rea, Michael C. 2002. World without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Roy, Tony. 2000. ‘Things and De Re Modality’. Nous 34, no. 1: 56–84.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0029-4624.00202

Ryle, Gilbert. 1949. The Concept of Mind. London: Hutchinson.

Ryle, Gilbert. 1950/1971. “If’, ‘So’, and ‘Because”. In ‘Collected Papers’, vol. 2. Bristol: Thoemmes.

Schlick, Moritz. 1918. Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre. Berlin: Springer.

Sellars, Wilfrid. 1958. ‘Counterfactuals, Dispositions and the Causal Modalities’. In Herbert Feigl, Michael Scriven & Grover Maxwell (eds.) ‘Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science Volume 2: Concepts, Theories and the Mind-Body Problem’, 225–308. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Shalkowski, Scott. 1994. ‘The Ontological Ground of the Alethic Modality’. Philosophical Review 103, no. 4: 669–688.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2186101

Sidelle, Alan. 1989. Necessity, Essence and Individuation: A Defense of Conventionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Sider, Theodore. 2003. ‘Reductive Theories of Modality’. In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.) ‘The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics’, 180–208. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thomasson, Amie L. 2007. Ordinary Objects. New York: Oxford University Press.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319910.001.0001

Thomasson, Amie L. forthcoming. ‘Modal Expressivism and the Methods of Metaphysics’. Philosophical Topics.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1922/1933. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. London: Routledge. Translated by C. K. Ogden.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1932-35/1979. Wittgenstein’s Lectures: Cambridge, 1932-35, ed. Alice Ambrose. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1939/1976. Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics: Cambridge, 1939, ed. Cora Diamond. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1958. The Blue and Brown Books. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wright, Crispin. 1980. Wittgenstein on the Foundations of Mathematics. London: Duckworth.

Share

COinS