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The Actual and the PossibleModality and Metaphysics in Modern Philosophy$
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Mark Sinclair

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786436.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 March 2021

Russell on Modality

Russell on Modality

(p.136) 6 Russell on Modality
The Actual and the Possible

Thomas Baldwin

Oxford University Press

This essay presents a synoptic account of Russell’s changing views concerning possibility and necessity. The essay shows how an intuitionist view of logical necessity, according to which it is a fundamental, indefinable property that is ‘purely and simple perceived’, swiftly gives way in Russell’s work to scepticism concerning whether necessity exists at all, since he holds that it cannot be explained by analyticity. The essay then shows how Russell returns, in effect, to both Aristotle and Hume with the thought that necessity is grounded on the universal truth of the relevant propositional function, and an attendant feeling of necessity. The essay also addresses Russell’s later suggestion that the domain of quantification of propositional functions is possible worlds—the idiom was familiar to him from his early book on Leibniz—and argues that Russell’s commitments point towards what in contemporary modal theory would be called a quasi-linguistic modal ersatzism.

Keywords:   Russell, modality, possibility, necessity, analyticity

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