What in the world are the ways things might have been? [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 133 (3):443 - 453 (2007)
Robert Stalnaker is an actualist who holds that merely possible worlds are uninstantiated properties that might have been instantiated. Stalnaker also holds that there are no metaphysically impossible worlds: uninstantiated properties that couldn't have been instantiated. These views motivate Stalnaker's "two dimensional" account of the necessary a posteriori on which there is no single proposition that is both necessary and a posteriori. For a (metaphysically) necessary proposition is true in all (metaphysically) possible worlds. If there were necessary a posteriori propositions, that would mean that there were propositions true in all possible worlds but which could only be known to be true by acquiring empirical evidence. Consider such a purported proposition P. The role of empirical evidence for establishing P's truth would have to be to rule out worlds in which P is false. If there were no such worlds to be ruled out, we would not require evidence for P. But by hypothesis, P is necessary and so true in all metaphysically possible worlds. And on Stalnaker's view, the metaphysically possible worlds are all the worlds there are. So there can be no proposition that is true in all possible worlds, but that we require evidence to know. In this way, the motivation for Stalnaker's two dimensional account of the necessary a posteriori rests on his denying that there are metaphysically impossible Worlds. I argue that given his view of what possible worlds are, Stalnaker has no principled reason for denying that there are metaphysically impossible worlds. If I am right, this undercuts Stalnaker's motivation for his two dimensional account of the necessary a posteriori.
|Keywords||Possible worlds Impossible worlds Modality Actualism Properties Necessary a priori Necessary a posteriori Epistemic possibility|
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References found in this work BETA
Robert Stalnaker (1999). Context and Content: Essays on Intentionality in Speech and Thought. Oxford University Press.
Scott Soames (2005). Reference and Description: The Case Against Two-Dimensionalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Robert Stalnaker (2003). Ways a World Might Be: Metaphysical and Anti-Metaphysical Essays. Oxford University Press.
D. M. Armstrong (1978). Universals and Scientific Realism. Cambridge University Press.
Scott Soames (2003). Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century Vol. 2: The Age of Meaning. Princeton University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Wesley H. Holliday (2015). Epistemic Closure and Epistemic Logic I: Relevant Alternatives and Subjunctivism. Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (1):1-62.
Barak Krakauer (2013). What Are Impossible Worlds? Philosophical Studies 165 (3):989-1007.
Jason Stanley (2010). "Assertion" and Intentionality. Philosophical Studies 151 (1):87-113.
Jonathan Ichikawa & Benjamin Jarvis (2012). Rational Imagination and Modal Knowledge. Noûs 46 (1):127 - 158.
David Sanson (2016). Worlds Enough for Junk. Res Philosophica 93 (1):1-18.
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