How can we know that something is possible? In how many different senses can something be possible? How do notions of possibility relate to idea of potentiality, powers and dispositions? How do notions of possibility relate to or even transform conceptions of actuality or reality itself? In what ways can concepts of possibility be used to grasp the specificity of human existence? Are concepts of possibility compatible with freedom and an open future? The conference will provide a forum for discussion of responses to these questions in the history of philosophy, from ancient Greece onwards, in order to elucidate the nature and scope of modal thinking in the present day.
In the last decades the ontology and epistemology of modality – of possibility, actuality and necessity – have come to prominence within the forms of metaphysical inquiry pursued in contemporary analytic philosophy. Similarly, key positions within the different traditions of French and German philosophy in the 20th century have been constructed according to particular approaches to the ideas of possibility and actuality. The aim of this major international conference is to facilitate discussion between these different approaches to modal questions, and to do so by elucidating them against the background of the history of philosophy.
For further information about the society and its activities, please consult the British Society for the History of Philosophy webpage.