A problem for actualism about possible worlds

Philosophical Review 92 (1):49-66 (1983)
Actualists who believe in possible worlds typically regard them as "abstract" objects of some special sort. For example, Alvin Plantinga takes worlds to be maximal possible states-of-affairs, all of which "exist", as actualism requires, but only one of which "obtains". Views like Plantinga's run into difficulty in the interpretation of statements of "iterated" modality, statements about what is "possible" for individuals that "could" exist but that do not actually exist. These statements seem to require the existence of "singular" states-Of-affairs that have nonactual individuals as constituents, a requirement that is incompatible with actualism. One can try to avoid the troublesome singular states-of-affairs by introducing "unexemplified individual essences" and maintaining that these are the true constituents of the required states-of-affairs, rather than the nonactual possibles themselves. However, serious arguments are raised against this employment of individual essences.
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DOI 10.2307/2184521
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Jeffrey Sanford Russell (2015). Possible Worlds and the Objective World. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2):389-422.
Karen Bennett (2006). Proxy “Actualism”. Philosophical Studies 129 (2):263 - 294.

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