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Chapter 3 Kearns: Reading guide

Make sure you know what the following concepts mean and how to use them appropriately:

  • modal proposition
  • necessity, possibility
  • logical, epistemic, and deontic modality
  • conterfactual conditional
Make sure you understand:
  • that natural languages express modality (concretely, we focus on necessity and possibility)
  • why we analyze modality in natural languages in terms of possible worlds
  • why the different types of modality require different restrictions in the possible worlds considered
    • for instance, logical modality considers all possible worlds, epistemic modality only the worlds consistent with the current state of affairs
  • why tautologies pose a problem for the treatment of meaning in terms of possible worlds (exercise D)
  • why counterfactuals constitute a challenge for the treatment of meaning in terms of possible worlds (section 3.3)
Make sure you know how to:
  • identify what type of modality (necessity / possibility, logical / epistemic / deontic modality) a given modal proposition expresses
  • specify the truth conditions of a modal sentence (see examples (9)-(14))
  • argue for or against a semantic analysis, for instance as to whether a statement constitutes a necessary truth (exercise C)
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