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I have been reading some introductory metaphysics (Van Inwagen's book of the same name) and I encounter arguments using modal logic. I am unsure how to interpret these - the arguments (chapter 6 and 7) look OK - but are they? What would be a good place to start to learn formal modal logic so that I can evaluate modal logic based arguments.

I am looking for lecture notes or books - intro level.

Thanks

  • When you say they "look OK - but are they?" is there some particular concern you have? – James Kingsbery Mar 15 '15 at 1:11
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Actually, I am currently working through the same book that you are. Personally, my favorite resource for the sort of thing you are trying to do is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; this page will give you a brief overview of the principles of modal logic, written in reasonably simple language by a philosopher who knows what he's talking about. The article itself will get you started, and the citations in the bibliography can direct you to all sorts of papers and books on the topic if you would like to look into anything more closely.

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I was in exactly your position. Same book only 2nd edition. I found helpful Cocchiarella and Freund's, Modal Logic: An Introduction to its Syntax and Semantics. It's written well and for beginners. I highly recommend it.

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The standard references (especially for philosophers) are:

  1. G.E.Hughes, M.J. Cresswell - A New Introduction to Modal Logic
  2. Melvin Fitting; Richard L Mendelsohn - First-order modal logic (first chapters cover basic propositional modal logic);
  3. Rod Girle - Modal Logics and Philosophy;
  4. James W. Garson - Modal Logic for Philosophers;
  5. Blackburn P., de Rijke M., Venema Y. - Modal Logic;
  6. Edward N. Zalta - Basic Concepts In Modal Logic (see here https://mally.stanford.edu/notes.pdf);
  7. Brian F. Chellas - Modal Logic: An Introduction.

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