And Now for Something Completely Different: Meinong’s Approach to Modality
In the twentieth century three approaches to modality dominated. One denied its legitimacy (Russell, Quine). A second made language the source of modality (Carnap). The third treats possible worlds as the source of truth for modal propositions (Kripke, Lewis et al.) Meinong’s account of modality is quite different from all of these. Like the last it has an ontological basis, but it eschews worlds in favour of a rich one-world ontology of objects and states of affairs, many of which notoriously fail to exist and some even more notoriously fail to be possible. We lay out the ontological basis of Meinong’s system and show how he accommodates standard modal notions. Two peculiarities of his system are investigated: his preference of possibility over necessity, and his treatment of degrees of possibility, which allows him to subsume probability theory in his account.
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