Philosophical Studies

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 351–364 | Cite as

Van Inwagen’s modal skepticism

  • Peter Hawke


In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology.


Skepticism Modality Modal epistemology Yablo van Inwagen 



I’d like to express my thanks to David Martens, of the Wits University philosophy department, for bringing van Inwagen’s paper to my attention and for providing invaluable comments over the course of the construction of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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