**Alethic Logic**

Modalities of necessity and possibility are called *alethic* modalities. They are also sometimes called *special* modalities, from the Latin *species*. Modal logic was first developed to deal with these concepts, and only afterward was extended to others. For this reason, or perhaps for their familiarity and simplicity, necessity and possibility are often casually treated as *the* subject matter of modal logic. Moreover it is easier to make sense of relativizing necessity, e.g. to legal, physical, nomological, epistemic, and so on, than it is to make sense of relativizing other notions.

In classical modal logic, a proposition is said to be

**possible**if and only if it is*not necessarily false*(regardless of whether it is actually true or actually false);**necessary**if and only if it is*not possibly false*; and**contingent**if and only if it is*not necessarily false*and*not necessarily true*(i.e. possible but not necessarily true).

In classical modal logic, therefore, either the notion of possibility or necessity may be taken to be basic, where these other notions are defined in terms of it in the manner of De Morgan duality. Intuitionistic modal logic treats possibility and necessity as not perfectly symmetric.

For those with difficulty with the concept of something being possible but not true, the meaning of these terms may be made more comprehensible by thinking of multiple "possible worlds" (in the sense of Leibniz) or "alternate universes"; something "necessary" is true in all possible worlds, something "possible" is true in at least one possible world. These "possible world semantics" are formalized with Kripke semantics.

Read more about this topic: Modal Logic

### Famous quotes containing the word logic:

“We want in every man a long *logic*; we cannot pardon the absence of it, but it must not be spoken. *Logic* is the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition; but its virtue is as silent method; the moment it would appear as propositions and have a separate value, it is worthless.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)