•  661
    Knowledge of objective modality
    Philosophical Studies 176 (5): 1155-1175. 2019.
    The epistemology of modality has focused on metaphysical modality and, more recently, counterfactual conditionals. Knowledge of kinds of modality that are not metaphysical has so far gone largely unexplored. Yet other theoretically interesting kinds of modality, such as nomic, practical, and ‘easy’ possibility, are no less puzzling epistemologically. Could Clinton easily have won the 2016 presidential election—was it an easy possibility? Given that she didn’t in fact win the election, how, if at…Read more
  •  764
    Perceptual Knowledge of Nonactual Possibilities
    Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1): 363-375. 2015.
    It is widely assumed that sense perception cannot deliver knowledge of nonactual (metaphysical) possibilities. We are not supposed to be able to know that a proposition p is necessary or that p is possible (if p is false) by sense perception. This paper aims to establish that the role of sense perception is not so limited. It argues that we can know lots of modal facts by perception. While the most straightforward examples concern possibility and contingency, others concern necessity and impossi…Read more
  •  635
    Modal Humeanism and Arguments from Possibility
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3): 391-401. 2013.
    Sider (2011, 2013) proposes a reductive analysis of metaphysical modality—‘(modal) Humeanism’—and goes on to argue that it has interesting epistemological and methodological implications. In particular, Humeanism is supposed to undermine a class of ‘arguments from possibility’, which includes Sider's (1993) own argument against mereological nihilism and Chalmers's (1996) argument against physicalism. I argue that Sider's arguments do not go through, and moreover that we should instead expect Hum…Read more
  •  78
    Assertions about metaphysical modality play central roles in philosophical theorizing. For example, when philosophers propose hypothetical counterexamples, they often are making a claim to the effect that some state of affairs is possible. Getting the epistemology of modality right is thus important. Debates have been preoccupied with assessing whether imaginability—or conceivability, insofar as it’s different—is a guide to possibility, or whether it is rather intuitions of possibility—and modal…Read more
  •  645
    Moderate Modal Skepticism
    In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology, Oxford University Press. pp. 302-321. 2018.
    This paper examines "moderate modal skepticism", a form of skepticism about metaphysical modality defended by Peter van Inwagen in order to blunt the force of certain modal arguments in the philosophy of religion. Van Inwagen’s argument for moderate modal skepticism assumes Yablo's (1993) influential world-based epistemology of possibility. We raise two problems for this epistemology of possibility, which undermine van Inwagen's argument. We then consider how one might motivate moderate modal sk…Read more
  •  300
    The idea that the epistemology of modality is in some sense a priori is a popular one, but it has turned out to be difficult to precisify in a way that does not expose it to decisive counterexamples. The most common precisifications follow Kripke’s suggestion that cases of necessary a posteriori truth that can be known a priori to be necessary if true ‘may give a clue to a general characterization of a posteriori knowledge of necessary truths’. The idea is that whether it is contingent whether p…Read more