Norms and modality

Authored by: Amie L. Thomasson

The Routledge Handbook of Modality

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138823310
eBook ISBN: 9781315742144
Adobe ISBN:


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Claims about necessity and possibility play a central role in metaphysical debates. Consider classic puzzles about material constitution: a statue may be made of a lump of clay, but it seems that the lump of clay could survive certain changes in shape that the statue could not survive. But how could they differ in these ‘modal properties’ when the statue and clay are otherwise identical? Or consider the ancient Ship of Theseus problem: if the planks of a ship are gradually replaced with new ones, and then the old planks are reassembled, which is the original ship: the one with the new planks, or the old? Can a ship survive changes in all of its parts? Can it survive disassembly and reassembly? Other puzzles arise about personal survival and identity, when we ask whether persons could survive the loss of memories, brain transplants, or teleportation. 1

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