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alethic modality

in logic, the classification of logical propositions according to their asserting or denying the possibility, impossibility, contingency, or necessity of their content. Modal logic, which studies the logical features of such concepts, originated with Aristotle, was extensively studied by logicians in antiquity and the European Middle Ages, and, for the most part, was neglected after the Renaissance until revived in modern mathematical logic. The basic statement on this subject, presupposed in most contemporary discussions, is by C.I. Lewis and Cooper Harold Langford in Symbolic Logic (1932), which develops a modal system of "strict implication" for interpreting the logical force of "if . . . then."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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