Impossible Worlds

Abstract
It is a venerable slogan due to David Hume, and inherited by the empiricist tradition, that the impossible cannot be believed, or even conceived. In Positivismus und Realismus, Moritz Schlick claimed that, while the merely practically impossible is still conceivable, the logically impossible, such as an explicit inconsistency, is simply unthinkable. An opposite philosophical tradition, however, maintains that inconsistencies and logical impossibilities are thinkable, and sometimes believable, too. In the Science of Logic, Hegel already complained against “one of the fundamental prejudices of logic as hitherto understood”, namely that “the contradictory cannot be imagined or thought” (Hegel 1931: 430). Our representational capabilities are not limited to the possible, for we appear to be able to imagine and describe also impossibilities — perhaps without being aware that they are impossible. Such impossibilities and inconsistencies are what this entry is about...
Keywords Impossible Worlds  Modal logic  Possible Worlds  Paradoxes
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