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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2018

PHIL 50.33 Necessity and Possibility

Modal talk is central to a great range of philosophical discussions, in areas from ethics to metaphysics to philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. But talk about what is possible or necessary is puzzling. For, as Hume noted, we never seem to observe anything like necessity in the world. Can talk about what is necessary or possible be true or false? If so, are there parts of reality (other possible worlds, or essences or modal properties of this world) that make it true? Or should modal talk be understood as doing something other than attempting to describe features of the universe? And how can we come to acquire modal knowledge—given that we don’t seem to observe modal facts? This course will examine a range of positions in the metaphysics and epistemology of modality.

Distributive and/or World Culture


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