There is More to Negation than Modality
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There is a relatively recent trend in treating negation as a modal operator. One such reason is that doing so provides a uniform semantics for the negations of a wide variety of logics and arguably speaks to a longstanding challenge of Quine put to non-classical logics. One might be tempted to draw the conclusion that negation is a modal operator, a claim Francesco Berto (Mind, 124(495), 761–793, 2015) defends at length in a recent paper. According to one such modal account, the negation of a sentence is true at a world x just in case all the worlds at which the sentence is true are incompatible with x. Incompatibility is taken to be the key notion in the account, and what minimal properties a negation has comes down to which minimal conditions incompatibility satisfies. Our aims in this paper are twofold. First, we wish to point out problems for the modal account that make us question its tenability on a fundamental level. Second, in its place we propose an alternative, non-modal, account of negation as a contradictory-forming operator that we argue is superior to, and more natural than, the modal account.
KeywordsNegation Compatibility Modality Contradictory
We would like to thank Brendan Balcerak Jackson, Francesco Berto, Thomas Müller, Heinrich Wansing, and an anonymous referee for helpful discussion. We would also like to thank the participants of the Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP) Colloquium.
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