Modal Knowledge, in Theory
thesisposted on 2012-12-07, 00:00 authored by Robert W. Fischer
We have some justified beliefs about modal matters. I articulate an account of that justification. On my view, we are justified in believing a modal claim only if we are justified in believing a theory according to which that claim is true. Defending this requires (1) an account of theories on which they have modal content and (2) an account of how we can be justified in believing that theories are true. I use the semantic view of theories to satisfy the former requirement and inference to the best explanation (IBE) to satisfy the latter. Since IBE has been roundly criticized, I devote considerable attention to its defense. I also explore a number of potential defeaters to our having justified modal beliefs, including the modal analogue of Benacerraf’s Dilemma. Ultimately, though, I show that my leads to the view that the scope of our modal knowledge is modest, and I argue that modal modal epistemologies that are more optimistic are implausible on that basis.