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Possible Worlds

Edited by Dan Marshall (Lingnan University)
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Summary Possible worlds are complete ways things could be. The metaphysics of possible worlds became a central concern of philosophers in the second half of the twentieth century with the advent of modal logic and possible worlds semantics. Important debates about possible worlds include whether there are any possible worlds, whether possible worlds are abstract or concrete, and whether possible worlds are constructed out other types of entities, such as sets, properties or propositions.
Key works Prominent theories of possible worlds include: the modal realism of Lewis 1986; ersatz theories such as Carnap 1947 , Jeffrey 1983, Hintikka 1969, Plantinga 1992, Stalnaker 1976, Melia 2001, and Sider 2002; and fictionalist theories such as Rosen 1990, and Armstrong 1989.
Introductions Two papers that provide a good introduction to possible worlds are Menzel 2008 and Sider 2003. Two excellent book length introductions to possible worlds are Melia 2003 and Divers 2002, the latter being more advanced than the former.
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  1. Robert Merrihew Adams (1981). Actualism and Thisness. Synthese 49 (1):3-41.
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  2. Hartley Burr Alexander (1935). Worlds in Which We Participate. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 16 (2):103.
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  3. Michael J. Almeida (2012). Freedom, God, and Worlds. Oxford University Press.
    A Moderate Anselmian Plea -- Metaphysical Atheological Arguments and the Free Will Defense -- Three Important Objections -- Unrestricted Actualization, Freedom and Morally Perfect Worlds -- The Logical Problem of Evil Redux -- Four Important Objections -- Four More Objections -- Redeeming Worlds -- Conclusions.
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  4. Robert Appelbaum (2008). “New Worlds”. Clio 38 (1):61-74.
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  5. A. Armitage (1969). The Celestial Worlds Discover'd. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 4 (4):406-407.
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  6. Robert Audi (1978). Avoidability and Possible Worlds. Philosophical Studies 33 (4):413 - 421.
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  7. C. L. B. (1964). Worlds Apart. Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):624-624.
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  8. C. L. B. (1964). Worlds Apart. Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):624-624.
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  9. G. R. B. (1963). Worlds to Know: A Philosophy of Cosmic Perspectives. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 17 (1):152-152.
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  10. Roberta Ballarin (2011). The Perils of Primitivism: Takashi Yagisawa's Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise. Analytic Philosophy 52 (4):273-282.
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  11. Damir Barbarić (2006). In the Intermezzo of the Worlds: On Vanja Sutlić's Work. Prolegomena 5 (1):89-97.
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  12. Stringfellow Barr (1963). The Three Worlds of Man. Columbia, University of Missouri Press.
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  13. J. C. Begg (1958). Essays on Thoughts and Worlds. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 36:237.
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  14. E. Bencivenga (1983). Dropping a few worlds. Logique Et Analyse 26 (2):241.
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  15. Henry Bennet-Clark (2010). Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds. BioScience 60 (8):654-655.
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  16. J. Bigelow (1987). LEWIS, D.: "The Plurality of Worlds". [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65:208.
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  17. John Bigelow (1991). Worlds Enough for Time. Noûs 25 (1):1-19.
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  18. John C. Bigelow (1976). If-Then Meets the Possible Worlds. Philosophia 6 (2):215-235.
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  19. Andrew Blais (2001). On the Plurality of Actual Worlds. Mind 110 (437):174-177.
    In this dissertation, I articulate and defend the claim that there are many actual worlds, and so there are many truths. My point of departure is an argument presented and criticized by Donald Davidson: reality is relative to conceptual scheme, there are many conceptual schemes, therefore, there are many realities or worlds. Although it might seem that the weak premise is , Davidson's strategy is to attack . I maintain that in doing this, he isolates the scheme idea from the (...)
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  20. Chris Bloor (2002). Body Worlds. Philosophy Now 36:46-47.
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  21. Steffen Borge (2000). A Call for a Possible World Argument in Ethics. Teorema 19 (1):105-117.
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  22. Raymond D. Bradley (1982). Possible Worlds. Philosophical Quarterly 32 (129):382.
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  23. David Brewster (1874). More Worlds Than One.
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  24. Susan Brill (1993). "When Worlds Collide. Semiotics:77-89.
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  25. Selmer Bringsjord (1985). Are There Set Theoretic Possible Worlds? Analysis 45 (1):64 -.
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  26. Don Brothwell (1993). On Biological Exchanges Between the Two Worlds. Proceedings of the British Academy 81:233-246.
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  27. C. Brown & Y. Nagasawa (2005). The Best of All Possible Worlds. Synthese 143 (3):309-320.
    The Argument from Inferiority holds that our world cannot be the creation of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being; for if it were, it would be the best of all possible worlds, which evidently it is not. We argue that this argument rests on an implausible principle concerning which worlds it is permissible for an omnipotent being to create: roughly, the principle that such a being ought not to create a non-best world. More specifically, we argue that this principle is plausible (...)
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  28. Curtis Brown (1990). How to Believe the Impossible. Philosophical Studies 58 (3):271-285.
    Can we believe things that could not possibly be true? The world seems full of examples. Mathematicians have "proven" theorems which in fact turn out to be false. People have believed that Hesperus is not Phosphorus, that they themselves are essentially incorporeal, that heat is not molecular motion--all propositions which have been claimed to be not just false, but necessarily false. Some have even seemed to pride themselves on believing the impossible; Hegel thought contradictions could be true, and Kierkegaard seems (...)
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  29. James Robert Brown (1987). David Lewis, "on the Plurality of Worlds". [REVIEW] Dialogue 26 (2):399.
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  30. Donald Brownstein (1985). Troubles with Plantinga's Actualism. Theoria 51 (3):174-189.
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  31. Johannes Bulhof (1999). What If? Modality and History. History and Theory 38 (2):145–168.
    Philosophers and historians have long been suspicious of modal and counterfactual claims. I argue, however, that historians often legitimately use modal and counterfactual claims for a variety of purposes. They help identify causes, and hence help explain events in history. They are used to defend judgments about people, and to highlight the importance of particular events. I defend these uses of modal claims against two arguments often used to criticize modal reasoning, using the philosophy of science to ground the truth (...)
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  32. L. B. C. (1964). Worlds Apart: A Dialogue of the 1960's. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):624-624.
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  33. R. Cameron (2010). Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise. Analysis 70 (4):783-792.
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  34. Ross Cameron (2009). God Exists at Every (Modal Realist) World: Response to Sheehy. Religious Studies 45 (1):95-100.
    Paul Sheehy has argued that the modal realist cannot satisfactorily allow for the necessity of God's existence. In this short paper I show that she can, and that Sheehy only sees a problem because he has failed to appreciate all the resources available to the modal realist. God may be an abstract existent outside spacetime or He may not be: but either way, there is no problem for the modal realist to admit that He exists at every concrete possible world.
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  35. Ross P. Cameron (2004). Possible Worlds. International Philosophical Quarterly 44 (1):116-118.
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  36. T. D. Campbell (1997). Arthur, J.-Worlds That Bind. Philosophical Books 38:212-213.
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  37. Curtis Carter, Invented Worlds: India Through the Camera Lens of Waswo X. Waswo.
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  38. C. Chihara (1993). Modality Without Worlds. In J. Czermak (ed.), Philosophy of Mathematics. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
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  39. Roderick M. Chisholm (1990). Monads, Nonexistent Individuals and Possible Worlds Reply to Rosenkrantz. Philosophical Studies 58 (1/2):173 - 175.
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  40. E. Chrzanowska-Kluczewska (2009). Possible Worlds–Text Worlds–Discourse Worlds in a Dialogic Context. In Elżbieta Chrzanowska-Kluczewska & Agnieszka Gołda-Derejczyk (eds.), The Contextuality of Language and Culture. Wydawnictwo Wseh. 157--171.
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  41. Patricia S. Churchland & Paul M. Churchland, Neural Worlds and Real Worlds.
    States of the brain represent states of the world. A puzzle arises when one learns that at least some of the mind/brain’s internal representations, such as a sensation of heat or a sensation of red, do not genuinely resemble the external realities they allegedly represent: the mean kinetic energy of the molecules of the substance felt (temperature) and the mean electromagnetic reflectance profile of the seen object (color). The historical response has been to declare a distinction between objectively real properties, (...)
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  42. Nicola Ciprotti (2014). On Modal Meinongianism. In Marian David & Mauro Antonelli (eds.), Logical, Ontological, and Historical Contributions on the Philosophy of Alexius Meinong. De Gruyter. 1-36.
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  43. Nicola Ciprotti (2006). 5. Maximal Worlds Vs. Boundary Worlds. In Paolo Valore (ed.), Topics on General and Formal Ontology. Polimetrica International Scientific Publisher. 290.
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  44. Michael Clark (1987). On the Plurality of Worlds. Philosophical Books 28 (2):93-96.
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  45. Veda Cobb-Stevens (1983). Works and Worlds of Art. International Philosophical Quarterly 23 (2):215-218.
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  46. Brian Coffey (1951). Worlds in Collision. Modern Schoolman 28 (2):162-164.
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  47. Brian Coffey (1950). VELIKOVSKY, IMMANUEL. "Worlds in Collision". [REVIEW] Modern Schoolman 28:162.
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  48. Geraldine Coggins (2003). World and Object: Metaphysical Nihilism and Three Accounts of Worlds. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):353–360.
    The study of metaphysical possibility involves two central questions: (i) What are possible worlds? (ii) Is there an empty possible world? In looking at the first question we consider the different accounts of possible worlds-Lewisian realism, ersatzism, etc. In looking at the second question we consider the discussions of metaphysical nihilism, the modal ontological arguments, etc. In this paper I am drawing these two questions together in order to show how the position we hold on one of these issues affects (...)
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  49. Eros Corazza (1989). Actualisme et possibilisme: l'évaluation dans les mondes possibles. Logique Et Analyse 32 (25):81.
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  50. M. J. Cresswell (2003). The Worlds of Possibility. International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):194-195.
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