SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Non-realistic model theory for a realistic modal language: the case of contingentism
(Philosophy of Language, English)

In the book "Modal Logic as Metaphysics" Williamson argues that "necessarily everything is necessarily something", and that nothing can exist except actual things. As a result of that view, every object is something and nothing is identical to nothing. From that does not follow that, for example, the notebook I am writing from is always or/and necessary a concrete thing. if it hadn't been produced, it wouldn't exist. It would have been some thing, but it wasn't concrete. It would have been a non-concrete object (not to be confused with abstract objects)

A merely possible object is something that doesn't exist but could have been something. That category can only be described through modal properties. For example, merely possible children of Wittgenstein have the property that they could have been children of Wittgenstein. The question that another kind of actualist, contingentist, can ask: what properties do such merely possible objects have in the actual world? Williamson argues that they don't share any properties with the actual thing. Non-concrete, merely possible objects can't be described in the same way as concrete objects.

For the contingentist, the problem is not so simple either. He claims that something could have failed to exist and there are things that are nothing. Since he explicitly denies Williamson's main thesis, then some objects are identical to nothing. How can one solve the problem of merely possible individuals without falling into a non-realistic interpretation of modality?

In the presentation, I am going to consider so-called "propositional contingentism" (Stalnaker, Fritz, Goodman) which combines compositional semantics with the set of permutation functions. The aim is to preserve (1) a realistic interpretation of modal language, that doesn__t force any controversial metaphysical commitments, and (2) the possibility of contingentist discourse.

Chair: Marlene Valek
Time: 14:40-15:10, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007
Remark: Online Talk

Arnold Grigorian 
(HSE, Russia)

Testability and Meaning deco