Modal Logic as Metaphysics

Paperback | April 16, 2015

byTimothy Williamson

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Are there such things as merely possible people, who would have lived if our ancestors had acted differently? Are there future people, who have not yet been conceived? Questions like those raise deep issues about both the nature of being and its logical relations with contingency and change.In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Timothy Williamson argues for positive answers to those questions on the basis of an integrated approach to the issues, applying the technical resources of modal logic to provide structural cores for metaphysical theories. He rejects the search for a metaphysicallyneutral logic as futile. The book contains detailed historical discussion of how the metaphysical issues emerged in the twentieth century development of quantified modal logic, through the work of such figures as Rudolf Carnap, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Arthur Prior, and Saul Kripke. It proposes higher-order modal logic as a newsetting in which to resolve such metaphysical questions scientifically, by the construction of systematic logical theories embodying rival answers and their comparison by normal scientific standards. Williamson provides both a rigorous introduction to the technical background needed to understandmetaphysical questions in quantified modal logic and an extended argument for controversial, provocative answers to them. He gives original, precise treatments of topics including the relation between logic and metaphysics, the methodology of theory choice in philosophy, the nature of possibleworlds and their role in semantics, plural quantification compared to quantification into predicate position, communication across metaphysical disagreement, and problems for truthmaker theory.

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Are there such things as merely possible people, who would have lived if our ancestors had acted differently? Are there future people, who have not yet been conceived? Questions like those raise deep issues about both the nature of being and its logical relations with contingency and change.In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Timothy Willia...

Timothy Williamson is the Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College Oxford. He was previously Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh, and has also taught at Trinity College Dublin, and as a visitor at MIT, Princeton, the Australian National University, the Chinese Uni...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.03 inPublished:April 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198709439

ISBN - 13:9780198709435

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Contingentism and Necessitism2. The Barcan Formula and its Converse: Early Developments3. Possible Worlds Model Theory4. Predication and Modality5. From First-Order to Higher-Order Modal Logic6. Intensional Comprehension Principles and Metaphysics7. Mappings between Contingentist and Necessitist Discourse8. Consequences of necessitismMethodological AfterwordBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"the issues raised by the book are among the most important in current work on modal metaphysics, and I very much hope that all metaphysicians of modality make the effort required to come to terms with its many ideas and arguments." --M. L. Cresswell, The Philosophical Quarterly