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Modality in Structural – Naturalist Ontologies

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Department of Philosophy at Lingnan University is hosting a two-day Conference entitled “Modality in Structural/Naturalist Ontologies”, on the 21st and 22nd of March 2019. The conference will assemble leading scholars from North America, Europe, and China to discuss the relation between scientific modality and naturalistic metaphysics with a particular attention to the current structural realism debate.


A major school of thought that has significant bearings on scientific realism debate is known as structuralism, which broadly speaking takes structures as prior to or more significant than objects and their intrinsic qualities. Since the early years of modern structuralism debate, modality has occupied a central place in the literature. It has been argued that the structure at scrutiny here is the objective modal structure of the world.

Some suggested that such an understanding of modal structure is the most convenient locus for a plausible version of naturalized metaphysics. On this very relation between modality and naturalistic involvement, some others have proposed that the strength of a naturalized metaphysics is determined by how modality is assessed: the stronger natural necessities are, the more naturalistic the metaphysics is.

However, such an understanding is at odds with some current naturalistic projects such as Super-Humeanism since modality does not appear at the very fundamental level of reality. Despite the differences between these several structural and naturalist ontologies, modality has become a very salient topic in the current research.


The participants in this conference will attempt to address methodological and specific questions in the cutting-edge research on the relation between objective modality and naturalized metaphysics. Some of these questions include: What is the exact relation between modality and naturalistic involvement?

If a metaphysical position excludes natural necessities at the most fundamental level of reality, is there any possibility for this position to be naturalistic? Is there any place for structural modalities in laws of nature debate? How is modality is assessed in several interpretations of modern physics, and do these different assessments say anything about which of these interpretations is the best one for a plausible version of naturalized metaphysics?


Conference Organizer:
Haktan Akcin, PhD Research Fellow, Lingnan University, Hong Kong SAR, China