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Modality and Explanatory Reasoning$
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Boris Kment

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604685.001.0001

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Absolute Necessity and Iterated Modality

Absolute Necessity and Iterated Modality

(p.54) 3 Absolute Necessity and Iterated Modality
Modality and Explanatory Reasoning

Boris Kment

Oxford University Press

Peter Unger has argued that many adjectives, e.g., “empty,” are absolute terms: one can’t call a room empty and then add that another room is even emptier. The first part of Chapter 3 argues that the same holds for many modal terms. For example, one can’t say in the same breath that X could have happened more easily than Y and that X couldn’t have happened. This phenomenon partly explains the allure of certain mistaken philosophical views, such as the belief that there are no metaphysically impossible worlds and the related idea that modal facts are about the limits of the space of all worlds. The second part of the chapter uses the theory of necessity of Chapter 2 to give an account of iterated modality, i.e. of claims containing modal operators within the scope of other modal operators.

Keywords:   modality, necessity, Peter Unger, absolute terms, impossible worlds, iterated modality

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