Ideas of Robert C. Stalnaker, by Theme

[American, b.1940, Professor at Cornell University, then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
I don't think Lewis's cost-benefit reflective equilibrium approach offers enough guidance
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 3. Modal Logic Systems / a. Systems of modal logic
Non-S5 can talk of contingent or necessary necessities
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 7. Barcan Formula
To say there could have been people who don't exist, but deny those possible things, rejects Barcan [Rumfitt]
4. Formal Logic / F. Set Theory ST / 4. Axioms for Sets / b. Axiom of Extensionality I
In modal set theory, sets only exist in a possible world if that world contains all of its members
5. Theory of Logic / C. Ontology of Logic / 1. Ontology of Logic
Logical space is abstracted from the actual world
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
We regiment to get semantic structure, for evaluating arguments, and understanding complexities
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / e. or
In 'S was F or some other than S was F', the disjuncts need S, but the whole disjunction doesn't
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / c. Names as referential
To understand a name (unlike a description) picking the thing out is sufficient?
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
A nominalist view says existence is having spatio-temporal location
Some say what exists must do so, and nothing else could possible exist
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 1. Nature of Properties
Properties are modal, involving possible situations where they are exemplified
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 10. Properties as Predicates
I accept a hierarchy of properties of properties of properties
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 6. Dispositions / a. Dispositions
Dispositions have modal properties, of which properties things would have counterfactually
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Impossible objects
Predicates can't apply to what doesn't exist
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 7. Substratum
For the bare particular view, properties must be features, not just groups of objects
Possible worlds allow separating all the properties, without hitting a bare particular
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / a. Essence as necessary properties
An essential property is one had in all the possible worlds where a thing exists
'Socrates is essentially human' seems to say nothing could be Socrates if it was not human
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / b. Essence not necessities
Necessarily self-identical, or being what it is, or its world-indexed properties, aren't essential
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Bare particular anti-essentialism makes no sense within modal logic semantics
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
The bundle theory makes the identity of indiscernibles a necessity, since the thing is the properties
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 3. Types of Necessity
Strong necessity is always true; weak necessity is cannot be false
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 8. Conditionals / a. Conditionals
In nearby worlds where A is true, 'if A,B' is true or false if B is true or false
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 8. Conditionals / d. Non-truthfunction conditionals
Conditionals are true if minimal revision of the antecedent verifies the consequent [Read]
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 2. Necessity as Primitive
Necessity and possibility are fundamental, and there can be no reductive analysis of them
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 4. Necessity from Concepts
Conceptual possibilities are metaphysical possibilities we can conceive of
The necessity of a proposition concerns reality, not our words or concepts
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 5. Modality from Actuality
Modal concepts are central to the actual world, and shouldn't need extravagant metaphysics
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 3. A Posteriori Necessary
Critics say there are just an a priori necessary part, and an a posteriori contingent part
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / a. Possible worlds
If it might be true, it might be true in particular ways, and possible worlds describe such ways
Possible worlds are ontologically neutral, but a commitment to possibilities remains
Possible worlds allow discussion of modality without controversial modal auxiliaries
A 'centred' world is an ordered triple of world, individual and time
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / d. Possible worlds actualism
Given actualism, how can there be possible individuals, other than the actual ones?
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 2. Nature of Possible Worlds / a. Nature of possible worlds
A possible world is the ontological analogue of hypothetical beliefs
We can take 'ways things might have been' as irreducible elements in our ontology [Lycan]
Kripke's possible worlds are methodological, not metaphysical
Possible worlds are properties
Possible worlds don't reduce modality, they regiment it to reveal its structure
I think of worlds as cells (rather than points) in logical space
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
Why imagine that Babe Ruth might be a billiard ball; nothing useful could be said about the ball
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / b. Rigid designation
Rigid designation seems to presuppose that differing worlds contain the same individuals
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / c. Counterparts
Unlike Lewis, I defend an actualist version of counterpart theory
If possible worlds really differ, I can't be in more than one at a time
If counterparts exist strictly in one world only, this seems to be extreme invariant essentialism
Modal properties depend on the choice of a counterpart, which is unconstrained by metaphysics
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / d. Haecceitism
Anti-haecceitism says there is no more to an individual than meeting some qualitative conditions
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
Meanings aren't in the head, but that is because they are abstract
How can we know what we are thinking, if content depends on something we don't know?
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 1. Meaning
If you don't know what you say you can't mean it; what people say usually fits what they mean
19. Language / B. Reference / 3. Direct Reference / b. Causal reference
In the use of a name, many individuals are causally involved, but they aren't all the referent
One view says the causal story is built into the description that is the name's content
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 2. Semantics
'Descriptive' semantics gives a system for a language; 'foundational' semantics give underlying facts
We still lack an agreed semantics for quantifiers in natural language
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 6. Truth-Conditions Semantics
To understand an utterance, you must understand what the world would be like if it is true
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 8. Possible Worlds Semantics
Extensional semantics has individuals and sets; modal semantics has intensions, functions of world to extension
Possible world semantics may not reduce modality, but it can explain it
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 10. Two-Dimensional Semantics
Two-D says that a posteriori is primary and contingent, and the necessity is the secondary intension
In one view, the secondary intension is metasemantic, about how the thinker relates to the content
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
I take propositions to be truth conditions
A theory of propositions at least needs primitive properties of consistency and of truth
19. Language / D. Propositions / 3. Concrete Propositions
A 'Russellian proposition' is an ordered sequence of individual, properties and relations
Propositions presumably don't exist if the things they refer to don't exist
19. Language / F. Communication / 2. Assertion
An assertion aims to add to the content of a context [Magidor]
19. Language / F. Communication / 5. Pragmatics / b. Implicature
An assertion is an attempt to rule out certain possibilities, narrowing things down for good planning [Schroeter]