A Philosophical Conception of Propositional Modal Logic


Edward N. Zalta


Philosophical Topics, 21/2, Fall 1993, 263--281


The author revises the formulation of propositional modal logic by interposing a domain of structured propositions between the modal language and the models. Interpretations of the language (i.e., ways of mapping the language into the domain of propositions) are distinguished from models of the domain of propositions (i.e., ways of assigning truth values to propositions at each world), and this contrasts with the traditional formulation. Truth and logical consequence are defined, in the first instance, as properties of, and relations among, propositions.

These definitions have certain interesting consequences. One is that they resolve a question that cannot be answered by the traditional analysis, in which Kripke models directly interpret modal language. The question is, is the reason a modal sentence has a different truth value at other possible worlds due to the fact that the sentence has a different meaning at that world or due to a change in the world? The philosophical conception elaborates the second answer. Another interesting consequence is that modal language, properly speaking, is not intensional, at least according to the classic tests for, and definitions of, intensionality.

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