The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on March 9th from 4:15-6:15 in room 7395 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Antonella Mallozzi (Providence College).
Title: Is There an Absolute Modality?
Abstract: Modality seems distinctively pluralistic: there are many kinds of possibility and necessity (logical, physical, metaphysical, normative, etc.), which seem significantly different from one another. However, the various modalities also seem to have much in common–perhaps simply in virtue of being kinds of modality. Should we suppose that there is some fundamental modality, one to which all the other modalities can be somehow reduced? Modal Monism says yes. Particularly, monists may treat the different modalities as relative to some absolute modality. However, Monism, reductionism, and absolute modality need not be a package. Specifically, the claim that some modality is absolute can be understood in ways which are independent of Monism and reductionism. In this talk, I raise concerns for monistic and reductionist programs in modal metaphysics, while also arguing that the notion of absolute modality is ambiguous. Depending on the framework, it means different things and captures quite different desiderata. After exploring several ways of disambiguating it, I suggest that while we possess and deploy a concept of absolute modality, that may be empty; or, otherwise put, no modal truth has the property of being “absolute”. I propose a pluralistic picture that still treats the different modalities as relative, while avoiding both absolute modality and reductionism. Importantly, the proposal won’t impact the philosophical significance of metaphysical modality.