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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 114, Issue 12, December 2017

Daniel Dohrn
Pages 678-686
DOI: 10.5840/jphil20171141245

Nobody Bodily Knows Possibility

Against modal rationalism, Manolo Martínez argues that elementary bodily mechanisms allow cognizers to know possibility. He presents an exemplary behavioral mechanism adapted to maximizing expected outcome in a random game. The bodily mechanism purportedly tracks probabilities and related possibilities. However, it is doubtful that cognizers like us can know metaphysical modalities purely by virtue of bodily mechanisms without using rational capacities. Firstly, Martínez’s mechanism is limited. But knowledge of probabilities arguably has to cover a variety of probabilistic outcomes. One may need an ability to calculate probabilities. Bodily mechanisms can realize such an ability, but this will presumably amount to instantiating rational capacities. Secondly, the purported connection between the items tracked by the bodily mechanism and genuine metaphysical possibilities is tenuous. There are points at which it may fail. Further, we would need to know by rational metaphysical considerations that the connection holds in order to bodily know possibilities.