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Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2$
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Jonathan Bennett

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250924.001.0001

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Descartes's Theory of Modality

Descartes's Theory of Modality

(p.59) Chapter 24 Descartes's Theory of Modality
Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2

Jonathan Bennett

Oxford University Press

Expounds and defends the thesis that Descartes, most of the time, accepted a subjectivist theory of modality according to which a proposition's being necessary is its relating in a certain way to our thought. Several difficult and long‐standing problems, and some others that have been neglected, are solved or lessened by this thesis. One is voluntarism—the thesis that God voluntarily gives modal truths their truth‐value. It is shown that Descartes is nearly always careful to say not that God cannot lie but that he does not lie.

Keywords:   Descartes, God, modality, subjectivism, voluntarism

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