David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
Summary The object of this study is to analyse certain aspects of the debate between David Brewster and William Whewell concerning the probability of extra-terrestrial life, in order to illustrate the nature, constitution and condition of natural theology in the decades immediately preceding the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin's Origin of species. The argument is directed against a stylised picture of natural theology which has been drawn from a backward projection of the Darwinian antithesis between natural selection and certain (...) forms of the design argument. Contrary to the popular image of natural theology as an essentially static, autonomous and monolithic set of presuppositions about the existence of design in nature, the paper underlines the existence of a fundamental divergence of strategies within natural theology, a divergence that, in the case of Brewster and Whewell, can be correlated with the religious cultures to which they most closely belonged. The fact that, in the plurality of worlds debate, their respective positions became mutually exclusive suggests that the fragmented and disordered state of natural theology, only too apparent before the Darwinian impact, was occasioned as much by the ulterior problem of rationalising the excessive space of the astronomers and the excessive time of the geologists as it was by any principle of the uniformity of nature in the biological sphere. The argument is substantiated with particular reference to the breakdown in communication as Brewster and Whewell developed conflicting strategies to expose the ?development hypothesis? that had appeared in Vestiges. Their altercation also reveals a certain conflict of status concerning the conclusions of astronomy and geology which, in turn, suggests that tensions between the physical and life sciences were not peculiar to the period following the publication of Darwin's theory. (shrink)
According to David Lewis, a realist about possible worlds must hold that actuality is relative: the worlds are ontologically all on a par; the actual and the merely possible differ, not absolutely, but in how they relate to us. Call this 'Lewisian realism'. The alternative, 'Leibnizian realism', holds that actuality is an absolute property that marks a distinction in ontological status. Lewis presents two arguments against Leibnizian realism. First, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot account for the (...) contingency of actuality. Second, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot explain why skepticism about one's own actuality is absurd. In this paper, I mount a defense of Leibnizian realism. (shrink)
A powerful challenge to some highly influential theories, this book offers a thorough critical exposition of modal realism, the philosophical doctrine that many possible worlds exist of which our own universe is just one. Chihara challenges this claim and offers a new argument for modality without worlds.
David Lewis adopts a counterpart theory of individuals to account for how it is that Humphrey has the modal property of ‘could have won the election.’ Once counterpart theory is taken on board, however, I think that the motivation for having a plurality of worlds is untenable. I will claim that counterpart theory with respect to individuals invites counterpart theory with respect to properties1, which in turn invites an analysis of modality that involves only one possible world, viz., (...) the actual world. (shrink)
The best arguments for possible worlds as states of affairs furnish us with equally good arguments for impossible worlds of the same sort. I argue for a theory of impossible worlds on which the impossible worlds correspond to maximal inconsistent classes of propositions. Three objections are rejected. In the final part of the paper, I present a menu of impossible worlds and explore some of their interesting formal properties.
Modal realism -- Time, space, world -- Existence -- Actuality -- Modal realism and modal tense -- Transworld individuals and their identity -- Existensionalism -- Impossibility -- Proposition and relief -- Fictional worlds -- Epistemology.
We all live in one and the same world – this is one of the strongest convictions not only in everyday life but also in science. Most philosophers also share this belief and give many reasons for it. It’s usefulness has been proved in politics and economics. Why? If the world is one, the law will be one, norms etc. will be one – with some cultural difference of course – and the conquerer is always right in bringing to the (...) conquered his religion, his language, his commodities etc. But nevertheless there are reasons against this view. If being and world are not made up by "existing things" but the world is a noetic structure before all the existing things, then there are different worlds, not only different cultures. For the globalisation this impact is very great. So I contrast the metaphysics of one world with its behavior in globalisation with the insight, that we live in different worlds and the following consequences. I apologize for bringing together two concepts, that are rarely considered together, metyphysics and globalization, but the fact is, that they are very closely connected. (shrink)
The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an informationtheoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borei numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that individuate) (...) different possible worlds. Section 3 adopts the Hamming distance between Borei numbers as a metric to calculate the distance between possible worlds. In Sects. 4 and 5, radical and moderate informational scepticism are analysed using Borei numbers and Hamming distances, and shown to be either harmless (extreme form) or actually fruitful (moderate form). Section 6 further clarifies the approach by replying to some potential objections. In the conclusion, the Peircean nature of the overall approach is briefly discussed. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the relationship between the idea of possible worlds and the notion of the beauty of God. I argue that there is a clear contradiction between the idea that God is utterly and completely beautiful on the one hand and the notion that He contains within himself all possible worlds on the other. Since some of the possible worlds residing in the mind of the deity are ugly, their presence seems to compromise God's (...) complete and utter beauty. (shrink)
Different conceptions on reality in physics and philosophy in the 20th century have been analyzed in the article. These approaches caused the necessity to study the multitude of the worlds. The author proved that multiworld interpretation of quantum mechanics and multitude of the worlds in the Goodman's conception are opposite tendencies. Everett and his followers consider the quantum world as some universal reality whereas Goodman and his supporters do not believe in universal reality.
Based on empirical data from a qualitative study, this paper explores the complexity of ‘real world’ management in Hong Kong’s public sector, as contrasted with various paradigmatic claims under ‘new public management’ (NPM). A plurality of sub-worlds within the broad public sector is identified, which makes the management roles and responsibilities much less ‘homogenised’ than depicted in NPM exhortations. The instrumental rationality underpinning NPM is identified as too restrictive in understanding the way in which public managers reach decisions. (...) When the daily challenges of reconciling values and practices arising from the complexities of politics, policies and service delivery are considered it is necessary to incorporate ideas related to procedural and expressive rationality to fully appreciate the nature of management in public organisations. (shrink)
The “histone code” conjecture of gene regulation is our point of departure for analyzing the interplay between the (quasi)digital script in nucleic acids and proteins on the one hand and the body on the other, between the recorded and organic memory. We argue that the cell’s ability to encode its states into strings of “characters” dramatically enhances the capacity of encoding its experience (organic memory). Finally, we present our concept of interaction between the natural (bodily) world, and the transcendental realm (...) of the digital codes. (shrink)
This paper responds to an argument of Hilary Putnam to the effect that the plurality of modern sciences shows us that any natural kind has a plurality of essences. In the past, he has argued that no system of representations, mental or linguistic, could have an intrinsic relationship to the world. Though he has granted that the Thomistic notion of form and its application to the identity of concepts may avoid these earlier objections, he has maintained that the (...) advance of the sciences has shown us that there are too many substantial forms in any particular kind of thing to provide the unity of conceptual identity required by the Thomist’s account. Given the resemblance of Putnam’s position to the “pluralists” against whom Aquinas argued in the Summa Theologiae a consideration of Aquinas arguments is undertaken. Following this, the paper examines a particular case of recent scientific practice, in order to suggest whose position, Putnam’s or the Thomist’s, more adequately captures the practice of the natural sciences of today, and their bearing upon the metaphysical question of the nature of essence in natural kinds. The paper concludes that the Thomist position on the unity of form or essence, with qualifications made about distinct conceptual approaches to some object of investigation, and the use of analogy in sorting through these distinct approaches, is better capable of accounting for the actual goals and practices of scientific understanding as we see it practiced today than is Putnam’s transcendental nominalism and neopragmatism. (shrink)
In his early lecture note Versuch einiger Betrachtungen über den Optimismus (1759) a young supporter of metaphysical optimism called Immanuel Kant tested the Leibnizian optimism by posing some counter-arguments against it only to falsify them. His counter-arguments were very inventive and they feature often in modern scholarship on Leibniz. In this paper I will present Kant’s main arguments and evaluate them. I will argue that Kant’s understanding on Leibnizian optimism is little misguided and for this reason his own positive counter-argument (...) despite its ingeniousness is problematic. His second solution to the problem is comparable to the doctrine of metaphysical optimism, but fails also for the same reason as the first one. -/- . (shrink)
Everett (1957a, b, 1973) relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics has often been taken to involve a metaphysical commitment to the existence of many splitting worlds each containing physical copies of observers and the objects they observe. While there was earlier talk of splitting worlds in connection with Everett, this is largely due to DeWitt’s (Phys Today 23:30–35, 1970) popular presentation of the theory. While the thought of splitting worlds or parallel universes has captured the popular imagination, Everett (...) himself favored the language of elements, branches, or relative states in describing his theory. The result is that there is no mention of splitting worlds or parallel universes in any of Everett’s published work. Everett, however, did write of splitting observers and was willing to adopt the language of many worlds in conversation with people who were themselves using such language. While there is evidence that Everett was not entirely comfortable with talk of many worlds, it does not seem to have mattered much to him what language one used to describe pure wave mechanics. This was in part a result of Everett’s empirical understanding of the cognitive status of his theory. (shrink)
In the paper there is presented the semantic interpretation of idealism/ realism controversy which is one of the most essential issues in Ingarden’s phenomenological project of ontology. The procedure of semantic paraphrase which is contemporary developed by Wolen´ ski, is the main interpretative tool. In the central part of the paper, there is formulated the formal theory of the semantic framework underlying idealism/realism discourse. Finally, there are formulated some notes showing that intentional conception of negation may be used for defending (...) various idealistic positions. (shrink)
An objection is presented to Lewisâs analysis of counterfactual conditionals in terms of relative closeness of possible worlds. The objection depends on no special assumptions about the âcloser-thanâ relation. The argument also casts doubt on Lewisâs claim that Antecedent Strengthening fails for counterfactuals.
It has long been disputed whether Kant's transcendental idealism requires two worlds ? one of appearances and one of things in themselves ? or only one. The one-world view must be wrong if it claims that individual spatio-temporal things can be identified with particular things in themselves, and if it fails to take seriously the doctrine of double affection; versions that insist on one world, without making claims about the identity of individual things, cannot say in what way the (...) world as we know it and the world of things in themselves can be ?the same?. The two-world view must be wrong if it denies Kant's empirical realism, or offers a phenomenalist interpretation of it. On moral grounds Kant ?identifies? each human person with a particular thing in itself, but the relationship here cannot be strict identity; instead its closeness may warrant regarding the two distinct entities as part of a composite whole. Perhaps up to the first edition of the Critique, Kant thought that empirical knowledge required a particular kind of close correspondence between appearances and things in themselves, one that would make it appropriate to speak of composite wholes here also. By the time of the second edition, he saw that there could be no good grounds for thinking that. In this respect something a bit like the one-world theory might make more sense for the first edition than for the second; but in both cases there is room to speak of two worlds as well. Talk of the number of worlds is metaphorical, and both metaphors have their dangers. (shrink)
: Since the late 1970s, American appraisals of Chinese medical ethics and Chinese responses to American bioethics range from frank criticism to warm appreciation, from refutation to acceptance. Yet in the United States as well as in China, American bioethics and Chinese medical ethics have been seen, respectively, as individualistic and communitarian. In this widely-accepted general comparison, the great variation in the two medical moralities, especially the diversity of Chinese experiences, has been unfortunately minimized, if not totally ignored. Neither American (...) bioethics nor Chinese medical ethics is a field with only one dominant way of thinking. Medical moralities in America and China--traditional and modern--have always been plural and diverse. For example, American and Chinese cultures and medical moralities both exhibit individualistic and communitarian traditions. For this reason, bioethics in general and cross-cultural bioethics in particular must be fundamentally interpretive. Interpretive cross-cultural bioethics appreciates the plurality of medical morality within any culture. It can serve as a vital means of social and cultural criticism through engaged interpretations. (shrink)
Naturalism implies unity of method--an application of the methods of science to the methodology of science itself and to value theory. Epistemological naturalists have tried to find a privileged discipline to be the methodological model of philosophy of science and epistemology. However, since science itself is not unitary, the use of one science as a model amounts to a reduction and distorts the philosophy of science just as badly as traditional philosophy of science distorted science, despite the fact that the (...) central theme of naturalized philosophy of science is that methodology should be true to science as practiced. I argue that naturalized philosophy of science must apply a plurality of methods to epistemological issues. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the theory of plurality of realities introduced by Leon Chwistek. A critical analysis of this theory and an extensional interpretation of Chwistek’s axiomatic descriptions of four realities lead to an epistemological interpretation of this theory. The word “plurality” in the title is a result of different waysof understanding the same original set of sense-data. This interpretation is contrasted with Kazimierz Pasenkiewicz’s ontological version of this theory. In the final parts of the paper the most (...) important consequences of this theory are discussed. First, the ethical relativism postulated by Chwistek is criticized. Second, an attempt to illustrate the plurality of realities with an example of different styles of painting is discussed. Third, a critical rationalism in the form of a kind of practical attitude toward social reality, which results from the theory of plurality of realities, is outlined. (shrink)
On the one hand, Hume accepts the view ? which he attributes primarily to Stoicism ? that there exists a determinate best and happiest life for human beings, a way of life led by a figure whom Hume calls ?the true philosopher?. On the other hand, Hume accepts that view ? which he attributes to Scepticism ? that there exists a vast plurality of good and happy lives, each potentially equally choiceworthy. In this paper, I reconcile Hume's apparently conflicting (...) commitments: I argue that Hume's ?Sceptical? pluralism about the character of the happiest life need not conflict with his ?Stoic? advocacy of the supreme happiness of the true philosopher, given Hume's flexible understanding of how one might live as a true philosopher. (shrink)
I argue that the many worlds explanation of quantum computation is not licensed by, and in fact is conceptually inferior to, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics from which it is derived. I argue that the many worlds explanation of quantum computation is incompatible with the recently developed cluster state model of quantum computation. Based on these considerations I conclude that we should reject the many worlds explanation of quantum computation.
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 the position we should hold on the other. (shrink)
In this paper, an argument of Alvin Plantinga's for the existence of abstract possible worlds is shown to be unsound. The argument is based on a principle Plantinga calls "Quasicompactness", due to its structural similarity to the notion of compactness in first-order logic. The principle is shown to be false.
A structural similarity between deflationism and a certain semantically excessive interpretation of the results of cognitive science is developed. Both views incorporate "two-worlds" accounts of the nature of representation. But two-worlds accounts are committed to what I call quasi-technically “the worst possible theory of truth”. This renders the semantically excessive interpretation committed to the worst possible theory of truth; but it renders deflationism internally inconsistent or incoherent.