, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 89–112 | Cite as

How the Modalities Come into the World

  • Wolfgang Spohn
Original Research


The modalities come into the world by being projections or objectivizations of our epistemic constitution. Thus this paper is a statement of Humean projectivism. In fact, it goes beyond Simon Blackburn’s version. It is also designed as a comprehensive counter-program to David Lewis’ program of Humean supervenience. In detail, the paper explains: (1) Already the basic fact that the world is a world of states of affairs is due to the nature of our epistemic states. (2) Objects (and properties and relations), which figure in states of affairs and which embody metaphysical modality, are constitutable by their essential properties and in fact constituted by us according to our ontological policies. (3) What the facts are, to which the correspondence notion of truth refers, is determined by applying an epistemic or pragmatic notion of truth to the world. (4) Causation is a specific objectivization of our conditional beliefs. (5) Nomicity is a ‘habit of belief’ (Ramsey), a specific way of generalizing epistemic attitudes. This covers the basic metaphysical and natural modalities. The paper attempts to convey that talking of projection or objectivization is not just imagery, but a constructively realizable program.



I dedicate this paper, just as the lecture from which this paper originated, to my two brothers: to my eldest brother Willfried, who was an eminent scholar of historical sociology, the sociological counterpart of social history, and to my elder brother Herbert, who is a most distinguished mathematical physicist. I also want to express my gratitude to two anonymous referees for suggesting essential clarifications and to Michael De for checking my English.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachbereich PhilosophieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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