From Modal to Post-Modal Metaphysics

Authored by: Nathan Wildman

The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138082250
eBook ISBN: 9781315112596
Adobe ISBN:


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From the early 1960s until the turn of the twenty-first century, metaphysics was dominated by broadly modal issues. But times have changed. Metaphysics has outgrown its modal myopia, as a number of hyperintensional notions have emerged and now play many of the roles that metaphysical modality formerly did. The aim of this chapter is to detail the rise and fall of modal metaphysics. In particular, I hope to offer an introduction to some key figures and debates that represent the modal approach, highlight the subsequent critiques of it, and mark the shift towards post-modal metaphysics. Along the way, I demonstrate that the main argument modal metaphysicians used to motivate the general shift of focus from the metaphysics of what is to the metaphysics of what must be equally motivates a further shift, towards a metaphysics centring on the various post-modal, hyperintensional notions. The upshot is not that there are no significant metaphysical questions remaining about modality nor that modality/modal notions are metaphysically useless; rather, it is that even modal enthusiasts should agree that modality is not (and should not be) the central metaphysical notion anymore.

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