PSA 1972 pp 323-330 | Cite as

Bressan and Suppes on Modality

  • Bas C. Van Fraassen
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 20)


Professors Bressan and Suppes have both argued that modality is of great importance to the philosophy of science. I shall not dispute this, but I shall raise some problems of interpretation, which arise if one considers the possibility of a philosophical retrenchment with respect to the use of modal concepts.


Silent Period Mathematical Entity Modal Concept Primitive Concept Philosophical Magazine 
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  1. 1.
    P. Suppes, Introduction to Logic, Van Nostrand, Princeton, 1957, p. 298.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For references and discussion, see M. Jammer, Concepts of Mass, Harper, New York, 1964, pp. 92–95; Pendse’s papers are in the Philosophical Magazine 24 (1937); 27 (1939); and 29 (1940).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    H. Simon, ‘Discussion: The Axioms of Classical Mechanics’, Philosophy of Science 21 (1954) 340–343; ‘Definable Terms and Primitives in Axiom Systems’, in The Axiomatic Method (ed. by L. Henkin et al.>), North-Holland, Amsterdam 1954, pp. 443–453; ‘A Note on Almost-Everywhere Definability’ (abstract), Journal of Symbolic Logic 31 (1966) 705–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    R. Stalnaker, ‘A Theory of Conditionals’, in Studies in Logical Theory (ed. by N. Rescher), Oxford 1968, pp. 98–112;Google Scholar
  5. 4a.
    R. Stalnaker and R. H. Thomason, ‘A Semantic Analysis of Conditional Logic’, Theoria 36 (1970) 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    For references and discussion, see my Introduction to the Philosophy of Time and Space, Random House, New York, 1970 (henceforth IPTS), Chapter VI, Sections 2 and 3.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    A. Grünbaum, ‘Why I Am Afraid of Absolute Space’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1971) 96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 7.
    For one line of thought, see IPTS, pp. 97–107 and 195–198; for another, my ‘Meaning Relations, Possible Objects, and Possible Worlds’ (with K. Lambert) in Philosophical Problems in Logic (ed. by K. Lambert), Reidel, Dordrecht 1970, pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    See my ‘Theories and Counterfactuals’ forthcoming in a Festschrift in honour of Wilfrid Sellars (ed. by H.-N. Castañeda) and R. H. Thomason, ‘A Fitch-Style Formulation of Conditional Logic’, Logique et Analyse 13 (1970) 397–412; last paragraph.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    G. W. Mackey, The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, W. A. Benjamin, New York 1963, pp. 1–4. A similar point could be made with reference to H. Simon’s first approach in his ‘The Axioms of Newtonian Mechanics’, Philosophical Magazine 38 (1947) 888–905, and ‘The Axioms of Classical Mechanics’ (see note 3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bas C. Van Fraassen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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