Chemical possibility and modal semantics

Abstract
This paper is a study of a distinctively chemical notion of possibility. This is the notion of possibility that occurs in chemical discourses when chemists speak of the possibility or impossibility of achieving a given result through chemical means. This notion pertains to the possibility of processes, not of compounds, so it differs from the kind of chemical possibility mentioned in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations or the kinds discussed in the literature on Putnam's Twin Earth argument. I argue that this process-oriented notion of possibility cannot be reduced in a simple way to physical possibility, and that standard possible worlds semantics does not allow a natural analysis of this notion. I suggest an extension of possible worlds semantics that may overcome this limitation. I finish by pointing out some open questions about chemical possibility.
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PhilPapers Archive Mark Sharlow, Chemical possibility and modal semantics
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