Dhaka, Bangladesh
An introduction to modality

Possibility and necessity

An introduction to modality

We frequently say things like, 'This seems possible,' 'That can't be done,' 'This must happen,' 'She might be able to . . ,' 'This is necessary for . .' and so on.[1] Claims like these are modal claims. They involve the modal concepts of actuality, possibility, and necessity. Modality concerns the mode or way in which a claim is true or false, and how something exists or does not exist. This essay explains basic modal concepts, illustrates some different kinds of possibility and necessity, and briefly explains how we try to identify whether a modal claim is true or false. 1. Modal Concepts Modal concepts apply to claims and beings, at least.[2] Here are some basic definitions concerning claims, beliefs or sentences: " a claim is possibly true if it could be true; it's possibly false if it could be false; " a claim is necessarily true if it must be true and cannot be false; it's necessarily false if it must be false and cannot be true;[3] " a claim is contingently true if it is actually true, but could have been false; true, but not necessarily true. " Concerning beings, people and things: " a being is a possible being if it (he, she) could exist: a being is impossible if it couldn't exist; " a necessary being must exist: a necessarily non-existent being cannot exist; " contingent beings, like us, actually exist, but could have failed to exist: they are neither necessary nor impossible beings. (To be continued)

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