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Knowledge and RealitySelected Essays$
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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251582

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199251584.001.0001

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Modal Reality

Modal Reality

Chapter:
(p.65) 5 Modal Reality
Source:
Knowledge and Reality
Author(s):

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199251584.003.0006

In this essay, McGinn argues for a version of ‘modal realism’ that denies the reality of possible worlds. Central to this discussion is a distinction between objectual and non‐objectual interpretations of modal expressions. Objectual interpretations affirm the reality of possible worlds, the existence of which McGinn flatly denies; whereas on the non‐objectual alternative, the semantic role of modal expressions is non‐referential. According to McGinn, the modal truth is to be grounded not in a realist ontology of possible worlds but in the manner in which real objects have the properties they do. In this way, McGinn remains a modal realist by locating modality in the modes of objects.

Keywords:   a priori, David Lewis, metaphysics, modal semantics, modality, modes, objects, possible worlds, properties

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