Philosophical Studies

, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 605-623

First online:

Modal skepticism and counterfactual knowledge

  • Juhani Yli-VakkuriAffiliated withWolfson College, Oxford University Email author 

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Timothy Williamson has recently proposed to undermine modal skepticism by appealing to the reducibility of modal to counterfactual logic (Reducibility). Central to Williamson’s strategy is the claim that use of the same non-deductive mode of inference (counterfactual development, or CD) whereby we typically arrive at knowledge of counterfactuals suffices for arriving at knowledge of metaphysical necessity via Reducibility. Granting Reducibility, I ask whether the use of CD plays any essential role in a Reducibility-based reply to two kinds of modal skepticism. I argue that its use is entirely dispensable, and that Reducibility makes available replies to modal skeptics which show certain propositions to be metaphysically necessary by deductive arguments from premises the modal skeptic accepts can be known.


Metaphysical modality Modal skepticism Counterfactuals Modal epistemology Philosophical methodology