“Invention is the Mother of Necessity: modal logic, modal semantics and modal metaphysics,” article in progress.

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Modal logic is a well-established field, and the possible worlds semantics of modal logics has proved invaluable to our understanding of the logical features of the modal concepts such as possibility and necessity. However, the significance of possible worlds models for a genuine theory of meaning–let alone for metaphysics–is less clear. In this paper I shall explain how and why the use of the concepts of necessity and possibility could arise (and why they have the logical behaviour charted out by standard modal logics) without either taking the notions of necessity or possibility as primitive, and without starting with possible worlds. Once we give an account of modal logic we can then go on to give an account of possible worlds, and explain why possible worlds semantics is a natural fit for modal logic without being the source of modal concepts.

This paper is an early draft, and comments are most welcome.


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I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I teach philosophy and logic as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. ¶ Start at the home page of this site—a compendium of recent additions around here—and go from there to learn more about who I am and what I do. ¶ This is my personal site on the web. Nothing here is in any way endorsed by the University of Melbourne.

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