Against Optimism

  • Bob Fischer
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 380)


Many metaphysicians will be inclined to see TEM as too cautious, and count that as a cost. However, I doubt that TEM’s rivals can underwrite more modal justification than TEM offers. To make this case, I examine three representative modal epistemologies—Stephen Yablo’s defense of conceivability as a guide to possibility, David Chalmer’s modal rationalism, and Timothy Williamson’s counterfactual theory.


Modal Knowledge Modal Claim Primary Intension Phenomenal Conservatism Counterfactual Supposition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Chalmers, D. (1996). The conscious mind: In search of a fundamental theory. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chalmers, D. (2010). The character of consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gale, R. (1996). Some difficulties in theistic treatments of evil. In D. Howard-Snyder (Ed.), The evidential argument from evil (pp. 206–218). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Geirsson, H. (2005). Conceivability and defeasible modal justification. Philosophical Studies, 122, 279–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hanrahan, R. (2007). Imagination and possibility. Philosophical Forum, 38, 125–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hart, W. D. (1988). The engines of the soul. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hume, D. (1739). In L. A. Selby-Bigge & P. H. Nidditch (Eds.), A treatise of human nature. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Jenkins, C. S. (2008). Modal knowledge, counterfactual knowledge and the role of experience. Philosophical Quarterly, 58, 693–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  10. Kind, A. (2001). Putting the image back in imagination. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62, 103–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kung, P. (2010). Imagining as a guide to possibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 81, 620–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. O’Connor, T. (2008). Theism and ultimate explanation: The necessary shape of contingency. Malden: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Oreste Fiocco, M. (2007). Conceivability, imagination and modal knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 74, 364–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Peacocke, C. (1985). Imagination, experience, and possibility: A Berkeleian view defended. In J. Foster & H. Robinson (Eds.), Essays on Berkeley (pp. 19–36). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Shoemaker, S. (1993). The first-person perspective. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association, 68, 7–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sosa, E. (2000). Modal and other a priori epistemology: How can we know what is possible and what impossible? The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 38, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Van Inwagen, P. (1998). Modal epistemology. Philosophical Studies, 92, 67–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Van Inwagen, P. (2008). Metaphysics (3rd ed.). Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  19. Williamson, T. (2007). The philosophy of philosophy. Malden: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Williamson, T. (Forthcoming). Modal science. In A. Vaidya & D. Prelević (Eds.), The philosophy of modality: The standard model and beyond. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Yablo, S. (1993). Is conceivability a guide to possibility? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 53, 1–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bob Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

Personalised recommendations