By Anders Berglund
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Extra resources for From Conceivability to Possibility: An Essay in Modal Epistemology
One of the most important contributions to the modern debate appeared before modal epistemology became fashionable. ” (1993). Yablo defends the thesis that conceivability is a fallible guide to possibility, and he further argues that dialectical processes may resolve situations where conceivability intuitions are unclear or conflicting. Note that the thesis that conceivability is a fallible guide to possibility is a weakening of the thesis that conceivability suffices for possibility, which Yablo holds to be implausibly strong.
Other philosophers, such as Hintikka (1999), disagree with Kripke, Gödel, and Van Cleve concerning the evidential value of intuitions. Rather, they want to describe intuitions as (heuristic) starting points for philosophical investigations, and they do not think that intuitive judgments are the kind of judgments on which philosophical positions should ultimately rely. Hintikka’s skepticism concerning the evidential value of intuitions is partly because, as he says, the concept of intuition has been “watered down” in contemporary philosophy.
In so far as philosophical arguments invoke states of affairs “remote from the concerns of ordinary life” (van Inwagen 1998: 76)— and they most often do—van Inwagen is highly skeptical about the use of modal premises in philosophical argumentation. Perhaps van Inwagen’s position could be called moderate dogmatism. It deserves to be noted that van Inwagen refers to his own position as “modal skepticism,” but he admits that the name may be ill chosen. van Inwagen’s decision to call his own position “modal skepticism” is perhaps due to his focus on the modal statements he believes that we cannot come to know the truth-values of (as opposed to a focus on the modal propositions he nevertheless believes that we can come to know the truth-values of).