Modal Knowledge: Beyond Rationalism and Empiricism

  • Anand Jayprakash VaidyaEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 378)


The terms ‘modal’ and ‘modality’ admit of two kinds of qualification. On the one hand, the terms can be qualified by being restricted to the alethic range or to the non-alethic range, such as in the cases of deontic modality and epistemic modality. On the other hand, within the range of alethic uses, the terms can be restricted to the logical, metaphysical, or physical domains. Where the restriction is on alethic metaphysical modality, the two central questions in the epistemology of modality are:The first question admits of four potential answers. It might be the case that we can and do possess knowledge of: (a) the possible, which is also actual; (b) the possible, which is non-actual; (c) the necessary and the impossible; and (d) the essential. A global skeptic argues that we don’t have modal knowledge of any of (a)–(d). A local skeptic only argues that we don’t have knowledge in some of (a)–(d). The second question, both historically and in the contemporary literature, admits of many different responses.


Actual World Natural Kind Epistemic Modality Rigid Designator Modal Knowledge 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Jose State UniversitySan JoseUSA

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