The Contingency Problem for Neo-Conventionalism
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Traditional conventionalism about modality claims that a proposition is necessarily true iff it is true by convention. In the wake of the widespread repudiation of truth-byconvention, traditional conventionalism has fallen out of favour. However, a family of theories of modality have arisen that, whilst abandoning truth-by-convention, retain the spirit of traditional conventionalism. These ‘neo-conventionalist’ theories surpass their forebears and don’t fall victim to the criticisms inherited through truth-by-convention. However, not all criticisms levelled at traditional conventionalism target truth-by-convention. Any conventional theory of modality must face the contingency problem. This claims that the contingency of our linguistic conventions jeopardises the necessity of the necessities they determine. I present the contingency problem as relevant to both the traditional conventionalist and the neo-conventionalist. I examine a response from Einheuser that builds upon a response from Wright. I show that the Einheuser response does more to accommodate the conventionalist’s modal beliefs, but that it does not fully satisfy some further conditions that ought to be laid upon such a response. I then suggest how the response can be revised so as to satisfy these conditions. The resulting model of conventionalism is compatible with the validity of S4, and suitably in the spirit of conventionalism.