Project

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Necessary Being. The Ontological Argument and the Metaphysics of Modality

Applicant Schärli Mario
Number 188051
Funding scheme Doc.Mobility
Research institution Department of Philosophy Columbia University
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.09.2019 - 31.08.2020
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Keywords (8)

Hegel; Descartes; Necessary Existence; Metaphysical Necessity; Metaphysics of Modality; Integration Challenge; Kant; Ontological Argument

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt "Necessary Being. The Ontological Argument and the Metaphysics of Modality" widmet sich der Metaphysik der Modalität. Das primäre Interesse des Projekts gilt der Frage, ob es Dinge gibt, die nicht hätten existieren können.
Lay summary
Für unser alltägliches Umspringen mit der Welt wie für das wissenschaftliche Verständnis derselben sind Modalbegriffe unerlässlich. Wir gehen davon aus, dass uns mehrere Möglichkeiten offen stehen, wenn wir handeln. Wir halten unsere Handlungen für etwas, das genauso gut anders hätte geschehen können: für Kontingenzen. Oder aber wir gehen davon aus, dass ein bestimmter Naturvorgang nicht anders passieren kann oder eine bestimmte Gleichung nur diese und keine andere Lösung haben kann. Es handelt sich dabei um Gegenbenheiten, die nicht anders sein können: um Notwendigkeiten. Im Rahmen dieses Projekts wird die Frage gestellt, ob die Existenz von Dingen kontingent oder notwendig ist und, wenn ja, für welche Arten von Dingen was gilt. Die behandelte Kernfrage lautet sodann: Kann es notwendig existierende Dinge geben, und wenn ja, um welche handelt es sich dabei?
Um dieses Ziel zu erreichen, bedient sich das Projekt klassischer Autoren, deren Reflexionen es für gegenwärtige Fragestellungen fruchtbar macht: Descartes, Kant und Hegel. Diese Positionen werden im Rahmen des Projekts einerseits auf den Stand gegenwärtiger Logik und Metaphysik gebracht, andererseits kritisch reflektiert. In Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Autoren wird eine neuartige Position erarbeiten, die sich necessary contingentism nennt. Deren Kernthese lautet: Alles existiert kontingenterweise, und dies ist notwendigerweise der Fall. Für diese Position sprechen einerseits metaphysische, andererseits epistemologische Gesichtspunkte.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.07.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Ewige Antizipation. Zukunft in objektivem und absolutem Geist
SchärliMario, Ewige Antizipation. Zukunft in objektivem und absolutem Geist, in Hegel-Jahrbuch, 2019, 359.
Review of Oppy, Ontological Arguments
SchärliMario, Review of Oppy, Ontological Arguments, in dialectica, -.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Columbia University Grad Workshop Talk given at a conference Thinking is Judging. Frege, Kimhi, and Kant 06.12.2019 New York, United States of America Schärli Mario;


Abstract

In describing the world we inhabit, we mundanely and scientifically make modal claims and employ modal notions. We take it that history could have gone otherwise or that people could have not been born. If we were right, such facts would only contingently obtain. But then, we take it that mathematical truths and everything subject to the laws of nature couldn’t have gone otherwise. If we were right, these facts would obtain necessarily. Regardless of whether we’re right about specific modal claims, the question inevitably arises: by virtue of what do certain facts obtain necessarily while others don’t? - The systematic investigation of these questions pertains to the metaphysics of modality. Within this field, this project aims to provide an answer to such questions by offering a philosophical account of what makes something’s existence necessary. The project thus focuses on the modality of existence.To achieve this aim, the project brings insights into and from the history of philosophy to bear on contemporary debates in the metaphysics of modality, while enriching the systematical assessment of big historical figures by sensitivity to current issues in modal logic and metaphysics. The project’s goal is to articulate an integrated view, encompassing both a metaphysical account of what necessary existence consists in, and an epistemological account of how necessary existence can be known. The philosophies of Descartes, Kant, and Hegel are examined and their pertinence to contemporary metaphysical discussions are exhibited in this project. Its results are going to enrich contemporary metaphysical debates, not least by articulating a novel account of necessary existence - necessary contingentism - drawing heavily on Hegel’s metaphysics, and defending it against rival proposals. Central to necessary contingentism is the claim that what is possible depends on what is actual: something’s possibility is grounded a set of actual entities and relations of relative necessity holding between them. Accordingly, possibilities become actual upon processes being triggered in virtue of these relations. Thusly, necessary contingentism avoids postulating non-actual entities to explain metaphysical possibility and necessity. Necessary contingentism therefore enables subjects to stand in causal relations to all possible and necessary states of affairs. As most of our evidence-gathering practices, such as perception or empirical observation, rely on such causal relations, this account bears significant epistemic advantages over extant theories.Methodologically, the project follows well-established standards of philosophical argumentation: it relies on clear definitions and the logical analysis of arguments to ensure highest standards of coherence and validity. Particularly, the logics and semantics of modality provide an invaluable formal tool of analysis for this project. In interpreting classical texts, the project relies on historical research and critical editions, while at the same time pursuing systematic aims.
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