PhD Thesis: Agentive Modality and the Structure of Modal Knowledge
This thesis develops a theory about the structure of modal judgment and
knowledge. Arguing in favor of pluralism about the source of modal knowledge,
it focuses on the questions of the varieties of modal judgement and their
relations, the function of modal judgement and the scope of modal knowledge. It
offers a hypothesis about the development of the framework of modal knowledge,
grounding it on the capacity to evaluate temporal judgements, from which the
capacity to evaluate alternatives comes from. It suggests that the most basic
framework of modal judgements consists in that of agentive modality, and in
particular, about what one can do, and how. It is argued
that the rest of the framework of modal judgement can be developed on this
basis, although this imposes certain restrictions about the scope of modal
knowledge. Additionally, the thesis provides analyses of various agentive modal
notions, such as imaginability, what is a way to do something, and discusses
how to understand counterfactuals with impossible antecedents.
PhD project: The epistemology of counterfactuals and modality
(2020) "Game Counterpossibles", Argumenta, 6(1), 117-133. [url]
Counterpossibles, counterfactuals conditional with impossible antecedents, are notoriously contested; while the standard view makes them trivially true, some authors argue that they can be non-trivially true. In this paper, I examine the use of counterfactuals in the context of games, and argue that there is a case to be made for their non-triviality in a restricted sense. In particular, I examine the case of retro problems in chess, where it can happen that one is tasked with evaluating counterfactuals about illegal positions. If we understand illegality as a type of restricted impossibility, those counterfactuals are non-trivial counterpossibles. I suggest that their non-triviality stems from their role in practices of rule coordination and revision, and suggest that this model could be generalized to counterpossibles in different domains. I then compare the approach to the accounts of Vetter 2016 and Locke 2019.
(2020) "Epistemic Projects, Indispensability and The Structure of Modal Thought", Res Philosophica, 97(4), 611-638. [url]
I argue that modal epistemology should pay more attention to questions about the structure and function of modal thought. We can treat these questions from synchronic and diachronic angles. From a synchronic perspective, I consider whether a general argument for the epistemic support of modal though can be made on the basis of modal thoughs’s indispensability for what Enoch and Schechter (2008) call rationally required epistemic projects. After formulating the argument, I defend it from various objections. I also examine the possibility of considering the indispensability of modal thought in terms of its components. Finally, I argue that we also need to approach these issues from a diachronic perspective, and I sketch how to approach this task.
(2019) "Mistakes as Revealing and as Manifestations of Competence", Synthese, Special Issue: "True Enough? Themes from Elgin". [url] [pdf]
The final chapter of Elgin’s (True enough, The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2017) defends the claim that some mistakes mark significant epistemic achievements. Here, I extend Elgin’s analysis of the informativeness of mistakes for epistemic policing. I also examine the type of theory of competence that Elgin’s view requires, and suggest some directions in which this can be taken.
(2018) "What is the Locus of Abilities?", Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, Special issue on "Wittgenstein: language, practical knowledge and embodiment" (guest editor: Annalisa Coliva), 12(2), 19-30. [url] [pdf]
Loughlin’s (2018) uses Wittgenstein’s remarks in Philsophical Investigations to motivate his ‘wide’ view of cognition. In opposition to other accounts of extended cognition, his view presents a negative solution to the location problem. Here, I argue that, if we consider Wittgenstein’s remarks on the notion of ability, the support for the wide view is not as straightforward. The criteria for using the concept of ability are highly context-dependent, and there is not a single account for them. This shows that at best, a moderate form of anti-individualism for cognitive capacities can be defended on Wittgensteinian grounds. Furthermore, the suggestion that ontological questions can be bypassed is questioned.
(2018) "On the Question of the Indispensability of Modal Thought", in Proceedings of the IX Conference of the Spanish Society of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, ISBN: 978-84-09-06054-2. [pdf]
An abreviated version of the central idea from 'Epistemic Projects, Indispensability, and the Structure of Modal Thought'.