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Barnes, Elizabeth, , Ross Cameron. Back to the Open Future
2011, Philosophical Perspectives 25(1): 1-26.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Many of us are tempted by the thought that the future is open, whereas the past is not. The future might unfold one way, or it might unfold another; but the past, having occurred, is now settled. In previous work we presented an account of what openness consists in: roughly, that the openness of the future is a matter of it being metaphysically indeterminate how things will turn out to be. We were previously concerned merely with presenting the view and exploring its consequences; we did not attempt to argue for it over rival accounts. That is what we will aim to do in this paper.

Comment: This could be set as a further reading, with the authors’ ‘The Open Future: Bivalence, Determinism, and Ontology’ as a core.

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Chatti, Saloua, , . Avicenna on Possibility and Necessity
2014, History and Philosophy of Logic 35(4): 332-353.
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, I raise the following problem: How does Avicenna define modalities? What oppositional relations are there between modal propositions, whether quantified or not? After giving Avicenna’s definitions of possibility, necessity and impossibility, I analyze the modal oppositions as they are stated by him. This leads to the following results:

1. The relations between the singular modal propositions may be represented by means of a hexagon. Those between the quantified propositions may be represented by means of two hexagons that one could relate to each other.

2. This is so because the exact negation of the bilateral possible, i.e. ‘necessary or impossible’ is given and applied to the quantified possible propositions.

3. Avicenna distinguishes between the scopes of modality which can be either external (de dicto) or internal (de re). His formulations are external unlike al-F̄ar̄ab̄;’s ones.

However his treatment of modal oppositions remains incomplete because not all the relations between the modal propositions are stated explicitly. A complete analysis is provided in this paper that fills the gaps of the theory and represents the relations by means of a complex figure containing 12 vertices and several squares and hexagons.

Comment: This article is useful for eastern philosophy courses and logic courses. Even if in the first part it provides an introductory section on Avicenna’s perspective, it would be better to have some pre-esxisting background on this latter one.

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Chatti, Saloua, , . Extensionalism and Scientific Theory in Quine’s Philosophy
2011, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25(1):1-21.
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this article, I analyze Quine’s conception of science, which is a radical defence of extensionalism on the grounds that first?order logic is the most adequate logic for science. I examine some criticisms addressed to it, which show the role of modalities and probabilities in science and argue that Quine’s treatment of probability minimizes the intensional character of scientific language and methods by considering that probability is extensionalizable. But this extensionalizing leads to untenable results in some cases and is not consistent with the fact that Quine himself admits confirmation which includes probability. Quine’s extensionalism does not account for this fact and then seems unrealistic, even if science ought to be extensional in so far as it is descriptive and mathematically expressible.

Comment: This text provide an in-depth overview and critique on Quine’s perspective on modality and it would be crucial in postgraduate courses of philosophy of science and logic. Previous knowledge on Quine, modality and quantum mechanics is needed.

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Leng, Mary, , . What’s there to know?
2007, In M. Leng, A. Paseau, and M. Potter (eds.), Mathematical Knowledge. OUP
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Defends an account of mathematical knowledge in which mathematical knowledge is a kind of modal knowledge. Leng argues that nominalists should take mathematical knowledge to consist in knowledge of the consistency of mathematical axiomatic systems, and knowledge of what necessarily follows from those axioms. She defends this view against objections that modal knowledge requires knowledge of abstract objects, and argues that we should understand possibility and necessity in a primative way.

Comment: This would be useful in an advanced undergraduate course on metaphysics, epistemology or philosophy of logic and mathematics. This is not an easy paper, but Leng does an excellent job of making clear some difficult ideas. The view defended is an important one in both philosophy of logic and philosophy of mathematics. Any reasonably comprehensive treatment of nominalism should include this paper.

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Ney, Alyssa, , . Metaphysics: An Introduction
2015, Routledge.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Tyron Goldschmidt

Publisher’s note: <em>Metaphysics: An Introduction</em> combines comprehensive coverage of the core elements of metaphysics with contemporary and lively debates within the subject. It provides a rigorous and yet accessible overview of a rich array of topics, connecting the abstract nature of metaphysics with the real world. Topics covered include: Basic logic for metaphysics, An introduction to ontology, Abstract objects, Material objects Critiques of metaphysics, Free Will, Time, Modality, Persistence, Causation, Social ontology: the metaphysics of race. This outstanding book not only equips the reader with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of metaphysics but provides a valuable guide to contemporary metaphysics and metaphysicians. Additional features such as exercises, annotated further reading, a glossary and a companion website www.routledge.com/cw/ney will help students find their way around this subject and assist teachers in the classroom

Comment: An excellent textbook to use for an introduction to metaphysics course. Provides a great overview of and introduction to topics such as modality, inexistence, causation, time, race, social ontology, and the special composition question. This textbook could be used as the key reading for the whole course.

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Sullivan, Meghan, , Peter Van Inwagen. Metaphysics
2016, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Introduction: It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the ‘science’ that studied ‘being as such’ or ‘the first causes of things’ or ‘things that do not change’. It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics – first causes or unchanging things – would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Second, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things – the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.

The first three sections of this entry examine a broad selection of problems considered to be metaphysical and discuss ways in which the purview of metaphysics has expanded over time. The central problems of metaphysics were significantly more unified in the Ancient and Medieval eras. Which raises a question – is there any common feature that unites the problems of contemporary metaphysics? The final two sections of the entry discuss some recent theories of the nature and methodology of metaphysics, including those that consider metaphysics as an impossible enterprise.

Comment: Essential article for introducing metaphysics to undergraduete students.The article offers a clear overview of the main problems of metaphysics as well as of the historical evolution from antient to contemporary metaphysics.

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Vetter, Barbara, , . Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality
2015, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book develops and defends dispositionalism about modality: the view that metaphysical modality is a matter of the dispositions that objects have. Dispositionalism is an attractive view for actualists about modality, and for anyone who embraces an anti-Humean metaphysics of powers. This book shows in detail how such a view is to be formulated, which challenges it faces, and how they may be met. The metaphysics of potentiality is examined in detail to show that the view meets the three main challenges for a metaphysics of modality: (1) Extensional correctness: providing the right truth-values for statements of possibility and necessity; (2) formal adequacy: providing the right logic for metaphysical modality; and (3) semantic utility: providing a semantics that links ordinary modal language to the metaphysics of modality.

Comment: The book develops the dispositionalist view in a way that takes account of contemporary developments in metaphysics, logic, and semantics. It can be used as a main reading in metaphysics and as further reading in many other fields. Recommendable in principle for postgraduate courses.

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