The Intentional Character of Propositions and the Demise of Possibility
In this paper, I will argue that Plantinga’s use of certain concepts in his TwoConcepts of Modality is confused and leads him down a path that ultimately undermineshis project of modality. I begin with an examination of his defined use of the term‘proposition’ and how this confusion leads to further mistakes. From this confusednotion, his further attempts to elucidate ‘possibility’ and ‘necessity’ take him farther down the path of puzzlement. Then taking these concepts into possible worlds to explainthe properties of propositions is a mistake. I will appeal to Kripke’s idea of possibleworlds as a better alternative than Plantinga’s (as well as Lewis’). In conclusion, I willlook at a few alternatives to understanding the concept of ‘possibility’.Propositions are the metaphysician’s friend. In the realm of analytic philosophy, propositions share a sacred space somewhere between universals and axioms of logic.Propositions are the building material or a major portion of what one uses in theconstruction of metaphysical structures. A definition of “proposition” could be defined,“…in modern logic as “what is asserted” when a sentence (an indicative, or declarative,sentence) is used to say something true or false,…”
As stated by Alvin Plantinga, propositions are, “The things that are both true or false and capable of being believed or disbelieved.”
What “the things” are is open for debate, but as I understand Plantinga’s position, propositions are either true or false; likewise, propositions can be believed or disbelieved. David Lewis addresses the trouble with, “the things” propositions are, in thefollowing: “The conception we associate with the word ‘proposition’ may be something
Colwyn Williamson, “Proposition” in
The Oxford Guide to Philosophy
, edited by Ted Honderich,(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 763.
Alvin Plantinga, “Two Concepts of Modality: Modal Realism and Modal Reductionism,”
Vol. 1, Metaphysics (1987), 189-231, 190.
© Jeffrey W Roop 2010. All Rights Reserved.