- Hardcover: 396 pages
- Publisher: Clarendon Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199278709
- ISBN-13: 978-0199278701
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,881,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers 1st Edition
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About the Author
Kit Fine is at Department of Philosophy, New York University.
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Top customer reviews
Let me be specific. There are different kinds of necessity:
*Nomic necessity (necessary by virtue of natural law)
*Logical necessity (necessary by virtue of, presumably, interconceptual relations)
*Mathematical necessity (necessary by virtue of such interconceptual relations as hold among concepts having specific relevance to the objects studied by mathematics, these being structures (or, more accurately, commonalities holding among pluralities of structures))
*Moral (deontic) necessity (necessary in the sense that one has an obligation to do it)
*Epistemic necessity (necessary in the sense that it is entailed by the data-set at one's disposal and/or by any conceivable/possible enlargement thereof)
*Metaphysical necessity (necessary in the sense that it holds in virtue of non-contingent facts about the structure of the universe).
*Circumstantial necessity (necessity that holds in virtue of circumstance-specific, but still potentially comprehensive realities)
Even though this collection of papers is titled "Modality and Tense", modality being the study of necessity, nonetheless:
*Kit Fine does not note, or otherwise show awareness of, the fact that whereas some necessitation-relations (e.g. entailment) hold between propositions, others (e.g. causation) hold between states of affairs (even though there is an essay in this volume concerning 'de re modality', that essay manages not say anything about the just-made distinction---or anything else, for that matter)
*Kit Fine does not identify the different kinds of necessity, at least not clearly or systematically or, indeed, at all, setting aside a few doctrinaire references to 'metaphysical' necessity (a positive analysis, or even definition, of which is glaringly absent from this volume)
*Kit Fine does not say what it is for one proposition to entail another (i.e. he doesn't say what it is for one proposition to be a necessary consequence of another; nor, a fortiori, does he say what it is a proposition to be necessary tout court, given that an intrinsically necessary proposition is one that follows from any given proposition).
*Kit Fine does not say what it is for one sentence (or sentence-token) to entail another.
*Kit Fine does not say whether entailment is a relation that holds between propositions, sentences (sentence-types), sentence-tokens, or entities of some other kind (e.g. classes of situations, models, possible worlds, actual worlds).
*Kit Fine does not at any point acknowledge that, in light of points made by Strawson (later refined by Kaplan, Barwise, and Perry), sentence-token-entailment is an entirely different relation from sentence-type entailment.
*Although Kit Fine manfully bashes David Lewis's comedic analysis of counterfactual truth (according to which, the meaning of 'p would have been the case if q had been the case' is 'given a world w such that q is the case in w but such that w is otherwise maximally like our world, p is also the case in w'), Kit Fine not only fails to put forth an alternative analysis of counterfactual truth, but fails to take note of such facts about counterfactual truth as would have to be accommodated by such an analysis, e.g. Kit Fine doesn't note, or even show any awareness of, the fact that whereas some counterfactuals (e.g. "if the surface of this table had four sides it would not be triangular") hold in virtue of logical relations, others (e.g "if Jim had drunk the poison, he would have died") hold in virtue of causal relations.
*Kit Fine says nothing about the different kinds of causal relations (efficient, program, probabilistic); nor, a fortiori, does he say anything about, or indeed show any awareness of, the difference between primitive nomic relations (such as hold in virtue of microphysical laws) and derived nomic relations (such as hold in virtue of remote, but nonetheless significant, consequences of microphysical law (cf. the fact that, because instances of microrandomness cancel one another out, there is macro-non-randomness)).
*Kit Fine does say a word or two about conceivability arguments (e.g. Descartes' argument that the truth of dualism is a consequence of the fact that one can coherently conceive of disembodied minds); but he doesn't say (a) whether they go through or (b) under what circumstances they go through or (c) which specific such arguments go through (or fail to do so). Not that it was incumbent on Kit Fine to discuss such arguments, but his failure to discuss them, or even show any awareness of their relevance to modality-related questions, isn't exactly evidence of this book's merit.
*Kit Fine does not say anything about the relationship between probability and entailment. (Is entailment maximal probabilification? If not, why not? Are there different kinds of probabilification? Different kinds of entailment? Do probabilities represent degrees of necessity? If not, why not? Can 'probably' be understood in terms of 'necessarily' and 'possibly'? If so, how? If not, why not?)
*Are there different kinds of determinism? If so, what are they?
*Do questions concerning determinism fall outside the scope of a book about modality? If so, why? (Determinism: How things are at t is a necessary consequence of how things are at t*, where t* is earlier than t.) It seems a bit odd that a book about necessity--and tense--should fail to say anything at all about determinism or its (lack of) relevance to questions concerning modality and tense.
*Although, as previously noted, Kit Fine bashes David Lewis's analysis of modality---which was deliberately provocative and whose very purpose, it almost seems, was to elicit, so as to show the innocuousness of, just the sort of pedestrianisms of of which Fine's critique of Lewis consists---he doesn't identify any problems with either Lewis's conception of what a possible world is or with any of the alternative conceptions (e.g. Carnap's conception ('a possible world is a state description'), some of the problems with which were expertly discussed by Lewis, incidentally).
In fact, Kit Fine does not answer any questions relating to modality.
Actually, he doesn't really talk about---anything.
He does indeed weigh in--without ever taking a stand, be it noted---on colloquy-specific matters, but never on any question that is of interest outside of what are, ultimately, personal exchanges.
He randomly bounces between surfaces of questions concerning of which he hasn't, by all appearances, the slightest understanding. He is, I will grant, up on 'the literature'---but only because 'the literature' is so defined as to include no one who isn't chic at this exact juncture.
Thus, Arthur Pap's brilliant work 'Semantics and Necessary Truth' is nowhere mentioned, even though every single question that Fine claims to be concerned with is answered creditably (not to say accurately) in that work. (The reason: Arthur Pap is no longer chic, mainly because he is a deceased person who, for whatever reason, wasn't turned into an icon).
I will modify or even recant this review if anyone identifies a single statement in Kit Fine's book that constitutes a meaningful attempt---or a non-meaningful attempt, for that matter---to answer a substantive (i.e. non-colloquy-specific) question about modality or, indeed, anything else.
In fact, I encourage reviewers to quote specific passages from Kit Fine's book. If there is material in there that is inconsistent with this review, I will either modify or recant it.
Another reviewer says that 'Kit Fine is...the greatest living metaphysician.' That wooden mantra is as vague, and also as unsupported, as it is strong. So I ask: Apart from Kit Fine's reputation---which is sustained by people who, with rare exceptions, have not read Kit Fine's work and, with no exceptions, depend for their livelihood on their being in the good graces of the tiny pool of people who give out philosophy professorships---is there any evidence, any actual (non-reputation-based) evidence, that Kit Fine has any insight into, or even more than a modest understanding of, anything of philosophical significance?
The distinct impression I get from this book is that, when you get to the center of this shrubbery maze, there isn't very much there.
These are indeed harsh words, but they are warranted, given that Kit Fine has obviously been deliberately overvalued by a philosophical establishment that is anxiously trying to hide the fact that in the last half-century it has become the grave digger of the intellectual revolution of which it had previously been the champion.