2.80 Modality

Category: Metaphysics

Keywords: modal, worlds, counterpart, modality, lewis, dispositional, dispositions, actuality, disposition, essentialism, disposed, counterfactuals, break, actual, kripke

Number of Articles: 370
Percentage of Total: 1.1%
Rank: 39th

Weighted Number of Articles: 370.5
Percentage of Total: 1.2%
Rank: 31st

Mean Publication Year: 1993.1
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1989.4
Median Publication Year: 1996
Modal Publication Year: 2012

Topic with Most Overlap: Composition and Constitution (0.0464)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Composition and Constitution (0.0451)
Topic with Least Overlap: Liberal Democracy (0.00018)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Feminism (0.00078)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the modalitytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 2012 when 3.3% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1891 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.80 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.184: Modality.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Modalitytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 1.1%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.6%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 1.1%. Analysis - 2.2%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.1%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.0%. Philosophy of Science - 0.5%. Noûs - 2.8%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.6%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.7%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 2012 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 3.0% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1891 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.185: Modality articles in each journal.

Table 2.195: Characteristic articles of the modality topic.
Table 2.196: Highly cited articles in the modality topic.


The top graph makes it look like this is a story of more or less continuous growth from the early 1960s onwards. But under the surface the story is a little more complicated. The topic includes articles about the nature of modality, and in particular the nature of possible worlds, but also articles about the nature of dispositions.

There are a lot of ways to carve up metaphysics into topics. This one makes some sense, but is also a bit puzzling. Both work on modality and work on dispositions are more connected to work on counterfactual conditionals than they are to each other. The end result is convenient for my project; I get two debates that are both in metaphysics, and reasonably close to each other, in the one topic. It’s just funny to see them both separated from counterfactuals in this way.

David Lewis is as important to the journals from 1965 onward as any other philosopher, but he doesn’t have any one topic that is really centered around his work. This is as close as it gets. Twenty-one of the articles here are either by Lewis, or reference him in their title. (There are other articles with “Lewis” in the title, but they are about C. I. Lewis, not David Lewis.) My biggest regret of this project was that I couldn’t include the Australasian Journal of Philosophy because it wasn’t in the JSTOR database. That would have given a much better sense of how Lewis’s papers related to the general themes of the era.