S5 (modal Logic) - Applications

Applications

S5 is useful because it avoids superfluous iteration of qualifiers of different kinds. For example, under S5, if X is necessarily, possibly, necessarily, possibly true, then X is possibly true. Unbolded qualifiers before the final "possibly" are pruned in S5. While this is useful for keeping propositions reasonably short, it also might appear counter-intuitive in that, under S5, if something is possibly necessary, then it is necessary.

Alvin Plantinga has argued that this feature of S5 is not, in fact, counter-intuitive. To justify, he reasons that if X is possibly necessary, it is necessary in at least one possible world; hence it is necessary in all possible worlds and thus is true in all possible worlds. Such reasoning underpins 'modal' formulations of the ontological argument.

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