Dr Sonia Roca Royes

Senior Lecturer

Philosophy University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Dr Sonia Roca Royes

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About me

About me

I joined Stirling in September 2007 as an RCUK Academic Fellowship, shortly after having completed my PhD in Barcelona. After 5 years, in 2012, the position turned into a Lectureship and I am now, since August 2015, a Senior Lecturer. 


Towards a non-uniform epistemology of modality

AHRC Leadership Research Fellowship for the project “Towards a non-uniform epistemology of modality”, University of Stirling. (Total value of award: £65,932. Contribution from UK Research Councils: £52, 745.)

Event / Presentation

Conceiving and Knowledge of Essence

The Logic of Conceivability Concference

Modal Scepticism and the limits of Induction

Modal Modelling in Science: Modal Epistemology Meets Philosophy of Science

Concepts and the Epistemology of Essential Truths

VI Issues on the (Im)Possible, Keynote Speaker

Current Issues in the Epistemology Of Modality

ECAP 9 Conference, Panel Speaker

The epistemology of de re modality

XI SIFA Conference, SIFA Young Lecture

Mind Independence and Modal Empiricism.
University of Genoa

Latin Meeting for Analytic Philosophy

External Examiners and Validations

Agentive Modality & The Structure of Modal Knowledge, Felipe Morales-Carbonell
KU Leuven

PhD External Examiner

Edinburgh Learning and Teaching Review
University of Edinburgh

External Learning and Teaching Reviewer for Edinburgh UG Philosophy Programme.

Modal Empiricism Made Difficult, Ylwa Sjölin Wirling
University of Gothenburg

PhD External Examiner

Conceivability and the Epistemology of Modality, Asger Bo Skjerning Steffensen
Aarhus University

PhD External Examiner

Modal Thought And Modal Knowledge, Paul Adrian Ramshaw
University of Leeds

PhD External Examiner


I work primarily on modality, both its metaphysics and its epistemology. I've been working on it since I became a graduate student and I don’t see an end to this. Rather, the more I know (or come to believe), the more I feel I need to fine-grain.

My modality journey started as a metaphysical exploration. The usual: possible worlds, their exact role in modal truth-making and essentialism were core in this exploration. A couple of convictions have accompanied me ever since shortly diving into the metaphysics of modality: modal mind-independence, and a view on possible worlds as mere heuristics. After a brief period working on its metaphysics (and feeling uneasy about the grounds for most metaphysical arguments on the matter) the focus of my research shifted towards its epistemology, and I’ve been heavily focused on it for years. Here, I favour a non-uniform position: the canonical method for modal discovery will differ depending on the portion of the modal realm we're inquiring into. As is to be expected (I believe) both my metaphysical and epistemological explorations started with a phase of negative research, in which I spent some time understanding and scrutinising the views of salient philosophers in the field, like Chalmers, Hale, Peacocke, Williamson and Yablo, among others.

My positive views were cooking up in the background as I was improving my understanding of the views I wanted to distance myself from. Following a slowly but surely methodological attitude, I started, non-ambitiously, by aiming to explain our modal knowledge of some ordinary possibility facts, such as that I could break my arm. The account I favour here is inductive, non-rationalist and, above all, de re first. Despite its non-ambitiousness, the account provides some of the explanations that, as per what I had argued in past research, the rationalists ought but failed to provide. The first piece of this positive research—'Similarity and Possibility: an epistemology of de re possibility for concrete entities’—is published in Modal Epistemology after Rationalism, edited by Bob Fischer and Felipe Leon. This volume, to my mind, marks the non-rationalist turn in the epistemology of modality. The piece 'Rethinking the epistemology of modality for abstracta' works in tandem with the similarity one, and allows me to increase the overall ambitiousness of the project. This one appeared in Being Necessary: Themes of Ontology and Modality from the work of Bob Hale, edited by Ivette Fred-Rivera and Jessica Leech. In it, I explore the kind of epistemology of modality available to explain our modal knowledge of abstract entities. These two pieces are the very bones of my epistemology of modality. My epistemological research after them is largely focused on fleshing out these bare bones and further developments. (Both these pieces have been developed with support from an AHRC Leadership Fellowship for the project: Towards a non-uniform epistemology of modality.)

Simultaneously to these further developments on my epistemological views on modality, I’m returning to the metaphysics of modality, and this return enjoys what I consider to be a much better epistemic footing. Indeed, my current metaphysical investigation are heavily informed by my acquired view on the epistemology of modality and the limits of our knowability of modal matters. I have expressed some of these informed views in my Modality element. Currently, I’m working on defending a hybrid view on modal truth that shall at once make justice to some of the community’s seemingly incompatible instincts on the matter while reinforcing the grounds for a non-uniform epistemology of modality. This metaphysical project is driving me towards the metaphysics of objects, and this is mainly what I’m battling with at the moment.

In addition to modality, there are several other areas that also manage to captivate my philosophical thinking. They include Ontology and Epistemology in general, Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic, Formal Logic, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Science, and Moral Philosophy. To be honest, though, I maximally enjoy those when I can see useful connections to what most worries me in modality; but I guess this is how it works for most of us.

I did both my B.A. (2003) and my Ph.D. (2007) in Logos, under supervision of Manuel García-Carpintero (a great experience). During the time I was writing my dissertation, I spent three fall terms as a visiting research student in Arché (St. Andrews) attracted by the Modality Project that Bob Hale was leading at that time, with whom I work during those terms (another great experience).

Outputs (21)



Roca Royes S (2023) Modality. 1 ed. Elements in Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009004596

Book Chapter

Roca Royes S (2023) Conceivability: Still Not Enough. [A response to Prelević]. In: Vaidya A & Prelević D (eds.) Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology. 1 ed. Routledge Studies in Epistemology. New York: Routledge, pp. 218-230. https://www.routledge.com/Epistemology-of-Modality-and-Philosophical-Methodology/Vaidya-Prelevic/p/book/9780367431679

Book Chapter

Roca Royes S (2020) The Integration Challenge. In: Routledge Handbook of Modality. 1st ed. Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy. New York: Routledge, pp. 157-166. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Modality/Bueno-Shalkowski/p/book/9781138823310

Book Chapter

Roca Royes S (2020) The Epistemology of Modality. In: Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics. 1st ed. Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy. New York: Routledge, pp. 364-375. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Metametaphysics/Bliss-Miller/p/book/9781138082250

Book Chapter

Roca Royes S (2018) Rethinking the Epistemology of Modality for Abstracta. In: Fred-Rivera I & Leech J (eds.) Being Necessary: Themes of Ontology and Modality from the Work of Bob Hale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 245 - 266.

Book Chapter

Roca Royes S (2017) A priori knowledge and persistent (dis)agreement. In: Dodd D & Zardini E (eds.) The A Priori: Its Significance, Sources, and Extent. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/?cc=gb&lang=en&

Book Chapter

Roca-Royes S (2016) Rethinking origin essentialism (for artefacts). In: Jago M (ed.) Reality Making. Mind Association Occasional Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 152-176. http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755722.001.0001/acprof-9780198755722

Book Chapter

Roca-Royes S (2016) Introducción a la modalidad. In: Prades J (ed.) Cuestiones de metafísica. Filosofía y ensayo. Madrid: Tecnos, pp. 151-190. http://www.tecnos.es/ficha.php?id=4208018

Conference Proceeding

Roca-Royes S (2007) Mind-Independence and Modal Empiricism. In: Penco C, Vignolo M, Ottonelli V & Amoretti C (eds.) Proceedings of the 4th Latin Meeting in Analytic Philosophy (LMAP-2007), Genoa, Italy, September 20-22, 2007. CEUR-WS Proceedings, 278. Latin Meeting in Analytic Philosophy, Genoa, 20.09.2007-22.09.2007. CEUR Workshop Proceedings, pp. 117-135. http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-278/



I design my undergraduate and taught postgraduate modules to be self-contained: I work carefully to develop course content that builds cumulatively over the semester. I make distinctive use of Power Point presentations that contain both written and visual/animated content. I have found that this is very helpful for delivering complex ideas. Special effort is put into enabling students to grasp the concepts with which they are to perform philosophical analysis. The effectiveness of my delivery method is repeatedly highlighted by students in module evaluation questionnaires.