About this topic
Summary Modal realism is the view that there are many possible worlds and and that they are concrete entities of the same kind as the world we live in.
Key works The most prominent version of modal realism is that of Lewis 1986. Other important varieties of modal realism include those of Bricker 2008 and McDaniel 2004.
Introductions For a good introduction to modal realism, see Sider 2003 and chapter 5 of Melia 2003.
Related categories

295 found
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  1. The Logic of Plurality. [REVIEW]B. W. A. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):549-549.
  2. Theories of Actuality.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1974 - Noûs 8 (3):211-231.
  3. Specterless Spirits/Spiritless Specters: Magical Realism's Two Faces.Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́ - 2007 - The European Legacy 12 (4):469-480.
  4. Theistic Modal Realism?Michael Almeida - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 3:1-15.
  5. The Fortunes of Modal Realism.Eugen Andreansky - 2009 - Filozofia 64 (6):535-544.
    There are several difficulties in understanding the concept of modal realism in our philosophical context. The author shows various types of modal realism as a theory. The analyses of the main theories of modal worlds and modal individuals show the problems of identity and identification as the fundamental questions. One of the key problems is the place of individuals in modals worlds.
  6. “Another World Is Possible”: Conference On David Lewis.Adriano Angelucci - 2011 - Humana Mente 19.
  7. The Plurality of Worlds. [REVIEW]D. B. - 1928 - Modern Schoolman 4 (8):138-139.
  8. The Inaugural Address: Kantian Modality: Tom Baldwin.Tom Baldwin - 2002 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 76 (1):1–24.
    Kant's claim that modality is a 'category' provides an approach to modality to be contrasted with Lewis's reductive analysis. Lewis's position is unsatisfactory, since it depends on an inherently modal conception of a world. This suggests that modality is 'primitive'; and the Kantian position is a prima facie plausible position of this kind, which is filled out by considering the relationship between modality and inference. This provides a context for comparing the Kantian position with Wright's non-cognitivist 'conventionalism'. Wright's position is (...)
  9. Modal Realism, Counterpart Theory, and Unactualized Possibilities.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (1):209–217.
    It is a commonsense thesis that unactualized possibilities are not parts of actuality. To keep his modal realism in line with this thesis, David Lewis employed his indexical account of the term “actual.” I argue that the addition of counterpart theory to Lewis’s modal realism undermines his strategy for respecting the commonsense thesis. The case made here also reveals a problem for Lewis’s attempt to avoid haecceitism.
  10. Lewis' Modal Realism and Absence Causation.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):117-124.
    A major criticism of David Lewis’ counterfactual theory of causation is that it allows too many things to count as causes, especially since Lewis allows, in addition to events, absences to be causes as well. Peter Menzies has advanced this concern under the title “the problem of profligate causation.” In this paper, I argue that the problem of profligate causation provides resources for exposing a tension between Lewis’ acceptance of absence causation and his modal realism. The result is a different (...)
  11. Our Reliability is in Principle Explainable.Dan Baras - 2017 - Episteme 14 (2):197-211.
    Non-skeptical robust realists about normativity, mathematics, or any other domain of non- causal truths are committed to a correlation between their beliefs and non- causal, mind-independent facts. Hartry Field and others have argued that if realists cannot explain this striking correlation, that is a strong reason to reject their theory. Some consider this argument, known as the Benacerraf–Field argument, as the strongest challenge to robust realism about mathematics, normativity, and even logic. In this article I offer two closely related accounts (...)
  12. Book Review. Possible Worlds. John Divers. [REVIEW]Karen Bennett - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):282-85.
  13. Alethic Modalities, Temporal Modalities, and Representation.Jiri Benovsky - 2015 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (1):19-36.
    In this article, I am interested in four versions of what is often referred to as "the Humphrey objection". This objection was initially raised by Kripke against Lewis's modal counterpart theory, so this is where I will start the discussion. As we will see, there is a perfectly good answer to the objection. I will then examine other places where a similar objection can be raised: it can arise in the case of temporal counterpart theory (in fact, it can arise (...)
  14. Two Concepts of Possible Worlds – or Only One?Jiri Benovsky - 2008 - Theoria 74 (4):318-330.
    In his "Two concepts of possible worlds", Peter Van Inwagen explores two kinds of views about the nature of possible worlds : abstractionism and concretism. The latter is the view defended by David Lewis who claims that possible worlds are concrete spatio-temporal universes, very much like our own, causally and spatio-temporally disconnected from each other. The former is the view of the majority who claims that possible worlds are some kind of abstract objects – such as propositions, properties, states of (...)
  15. Branching Versus Divergent Possible Worlds.Jiri Benovsky - 2005 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):12-20.
    David Lewis' modal counterpart theory falls prey to the famous Saul Kripke's objection, and this is mostly due to his 'static' ontology (divergence) of possible worlds. This paper examines a genuinely realist but different, branching ontology of possible worlds and a new definition of the counterpart relation, which attempts to provide us with a better account of de re modality, and to meet satisfactorily Kripke's claim, while being also ontologically more 'parsimonious'.
  16. The Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality.Nora Berenstain - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3361-3377.
    This paper argues that scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between the mathematical entities that are indispensible to scientific explanation and the modal structure of the empirical phenomena those entities explain. The argument presupposes that scientific realism commits us to the indispensability argument. The viewpresented here is that the indispensability of mathematics commits us not only to the existence of mathematical structures and entities but to a metaphysical determination relation between those entities and the modal structure of (...)
  17. On the Evolution of Recombination in Haploids and Diploids.Aviv Bergman, Sarah P. Otto & Marcus W. Feldman - forthcoming - Complexity.
  18. On the Evolution of Recombination in Haploids and Diploids: I. Deterministic Models.Aviv Bergman, Sarah P. Otto & Marcus W. Feldman - 1995 - Complexity 1 (1):57-67.
  19. Lewis' Reduction of Modality.Sandy Berkovski - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):95-114.
    I start by reconsidering two familiar arguments against modal realism. The argument from epistemology relates to the issue whether we can infer the existence of concrete objects by a priori means. The argument from pragmatics purports to refute the analogy between the indispensability of possible worlds and the indispensability of unobserved entities in physical science and of numbers in mathematics. Then I present two novel objections. One focusses on the obscurity of the notion of isolation required by modal realism. The (...)
  20. Impossible Worlds and Propositions: Against the Parity Thesis.Francesco Berto - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):471-486.
    Accounts of propositions as sets of possible worlds have been criticized for conflating distinct impossible propositions. In response to this problem, some have proposed to introduce impossible worlds to represent distinct impossibilities, endorsing the thesis that impossible worlds must be of the same kind; this has been called the parity thesis. I show that this thesis faces problems, and propose a hybrid account which rejects it: possible worlds are taken as concrete Lewisian worlds, and impossibilities are represented as set-theoretic constructions (...)
  21. LEWIS, D.: "The Plurality of Worlds". [REVIEW]J. Bigelow - 1987 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65:208.
  22. Worlds Enough for Time.John Bigelow - 1991 - Noûs 25 (1):1-19.
  23. If-Then Meets the Possible Worlds.John C. Bigelow - 1976 - Philosophia 6 (2):215-235.
  24. Recombination for Combinatorialists.Andrea Borghini - 2016 - In Francesco Federico Calemi (ed.), Metaphysics and Scientific Realism: Essays in Honour of David Malet Armstrong. De Gruyter. pp. 177-192.
  25. Virtù e vizi del concretismo.Andrea Borghini - 2006 - Annali Del Dipartimento di Filosofia 12:181-193.
    Concretism is the ontological thesis according to which possibilia are concrete entities. The paper first outlines concretism, arguing that its sole founding thesis is that individuals across possible worlds are individuated by similitude. Among other things, this means that there is no need to postulate that there is no overlap among worlds. The main virtues and vices of concretism are then reviewed, and a novel vice is put forward: a failure in the reduction of modality due to the modal character (...)
  26. Un mondo di possibilità. Realismo modale senza mondi possibili.Andrea Borghini - 2004 - Rivista di Estetica 26 (2):87-100.
    While preparing my suitcase for Padua, I took care to put my favorite cds in a secured spot since they could have broken along the way. Which (non-mental) fact, if any, could possibly justify my action – i.e. what, if anything, makes it the case that my cds could have broken? The paper explores the nature of possibility. The three theories most widely endorsed thus far – fictionism, actualism, and modal realism – are introduced, with a particular attention to their (...)
  27. Oggetti Possibili E Oggetti Esistenti: La Teoria di David K. Lewis.Andrea Borghini - 2002 - Kykeyon 2:67-77.
    Quasi al termine della seconda guerra mondiale, alcuni ufficiali tedeschi diedero l’ordine di abbattere le storiche torri di San Gimignano; tutto pareva ormai deciso, quando un gruppo di civili riuscì con successo a ritardare l’esecuzione fino all’arrivo delle truppe alleate. Grazie a quei civili, le torri di San Gimignano sono ancora ben visibili a tutti, meta ogni anno di numerosi turisti; ma che cosa dire della possibilità che oggi esistessero soltanto le loro macerie? Esse rientrano in quella classe di cose (...)
  28. Introduzione: perché i mondi possibili?Andrea Borghini & Nicola Ciprotti - 2007 - Annali Del Dipartimento di Filosofia di Firenze 12:173-180.
    Il problema di fondo da cui la discussione sui mondi possibili scaturisce è quello di fornire una teoria circa l’interpretazione delle espressioni modali. È quindi da un’analisi di queste espressioni che partiremo per la nostra discussione sui mondi possibili. Nel linguaggio naturale il discorso modale è segnalato da una molteplicità di espressioni come avverbi, modi verbali ed operatori enunciativi: 'potere', 'dovere', 'avere la capacità', 'avere l’opportunità', 'possibilmente', 'doverosamente', et coetera. In seguito ad una semplificazione non priva di conseguenze, si è (...)
  29. Natural Properties and Atomicity in Modal Realism.Andrea Borghini & Giorgio Lando - 2015 - Metaphysica 16 (1):103-122.
    The paper pinpoints certain unrecognized difficulties that surface for recombination and duplication in modal realism when we ask whether the following inter-world fixity claims hold true: 1) A property is perfectly natural in a world iff it is perfectly natural in every world where it is instantiated; 2) Something is mereologically atomic in a world iff all of its duplicates in every world are atomic. In connection to 1), the hypothesis of idlers prompts four variants of Lewis’s doctrine of perfectly (...)
  30. Natural Properties, Supervenience, and Mereology.Andrea Borghini & Giorgio Lando - 2011 - Humana Mente 4 (19).
    The interpretation of Lewis‘s doctrine of natural properties is difficult and controversial, especially when it comes to the bearers of natural properties. According to the prevailing reading – the minimalist view – perfectly natural properties pertain to the micro-physical realm and are instantiated by entities without proper parts or point-like. This paper argues that there are reasons internal to a broadly Lewisian kind of metaphysics to think that the minimalist view is fundamentally flawed and that a liberal view, according to (...)
  31. Natural Properties, Supervenience, and Mereology.Andrea Borghini & Giorgio Lando - 2011 - Humana Mente 19:79-104.
    The interpretation of Lewis‘s doctrine of natural properties is difficult and controversial, especially when it comes to the bearers of natural properties. According to the prevailing reading – the minimalist view – perfectly natural properties pertain to the micro-physical realm and are instantiated by entities without proper parts or point-like. This paper argues that there are reasons internal to a broadly Lewisian kind of metaphysics to think that the minimalist view is fundamentally flawed and that a liberal view, according to (...)
  32. From Empiricism to Expressivism.Robert B. Brandom - 2015 - Harvard University Press.
  33. Divers Aspects de la Notion D'Humanité.Émile Bréhier - 1917 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 24 (4):477 - 488.
  34. Is There an Analytic Limit of Genuine Modal Realism?Manuel Bremer - 2003 - Mind 112 (445):79-82.
  35. Truthmaking: With and Without Counterpart Theory.Phillip Bricker - 2015 - In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Blackwell.
  36. Concrete Possible Worlds.Phillip Bricker - 2008 - In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 111--134.
  37. Absolute Actuality and the Plurality of Worlds.Phillip Bricker - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):41–76.
    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 (...)
  38. David Lewis: On the Plurality of Worlds.Phillip Bricker - 2006 - In John Shand (ed.), Central Works of Philosophy, Vol. 5: The Twentieth Century: Quine and After. Acumen Publishing.
    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.
  39. Island Universes and the Analysis of Modality.Phillip Bricker - 2001 - In G. Preyer & F. Siebelt (eds.), Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis. Rowman & Littlefield.
    It follows from Humean principles of plenitude, I argue, that island universes are possible: physical reality might have 'absolutely isolated' parts. This makes trouble for Lewis's modal realism; but the realist has a way out. First, accept absolute actuality, which is defensible, I argue, on independent grounds. Second, revise the standard analysis of modality: modal operators are 'plural', not 'individual', quantifiers over possible worlds. This solves the problem of island universes and confers three additional benefits: an 'unqualified' principle of compossibility (...)
  40. Isolation and Unification: The Realist Analysis of Possible Worlds.Phillip Bricker - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 84 (2-3):225 - 238.
    If realism about possible worlds is to succeed in eliminating primitive modality, it must provide an 'analysis' of possible world: nonmodal criteria for demarcating one world from another. This David Lewis has done. Lewis holds, roughly, that worlds are maximal unified regions of logical space. So far, so good. But what Lewis means by 'unification' is too narrow, I think, in two different ways. First, for Lewis, all worlds are (almost) 'globally' unified: at any world, (almost) every part is directly (...)
  41. Plenitude of Possible Structures.Phillip Bricker - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (11):607-619.
    Which mathematical structures are possible, that is, instantiated by the concrete inhabitants of some possible world? Are there worlds with four-dimensional space? With infinite-dimensional space? Whence comes our knowledge of the possibility of structures? In this paper, I develop and defend a principle of plenitude according to which any mathematically natural generalization of possible structure is itself possible. I motivate the principle pragmatically by way of the role that logical possibility plays in our inquiry into the world.
  42. Worlds and Propositions: The Structure and Ontology of Logical Space.Phillip Bricker - 1983 - Dissertation, Princeton University
    In sections 1 through 5, I develop in detail what I call the standard theory of worlds and propositions, and I discuss a number of purported objections. The theory consists of five theses. The first two theses, presented in section 1, assert that the propositions form a Boolean algebra with respect to implication, and that the algebra is complete, respectively. In section 2, I introduce the notion of logical space: it is a field of sets that represents the propositional structure (...)
  43. David Lewis, "on the Plurality of Worlds". [REVIEW]James Robert Brown - 1987 - Dialogue 26 (2):399.
  44. Modal Realism and Modal Epistemology: A Huge Gap.Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski - 2004 - In Erik Weber Tim De Mey (ed.), Modal Epistemology. Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie Vor Wetenschappen En Kunsten. pp. 93--106.
  45. Critical Notice.Ross Cameron - unknown
    In this book, Yagisawa defends a type of realism about merely possible worlds and individuals.1 The view defended is much closer to David Lewis’s genuine modal realism than it is to any kind of actualist or ersatzist modal realism, and I think the best way of understanding Yagisawa’s view will be to see where it differs from Lewis’s. To that end, let’s briefly remind ourselves of Lewis’s theory.
  46. Lewisian Realism: Epistemology, Methodology, and Circularity.Ross Cameron - 2007 - Synthese 156 (1):143-159.
  47. Why Lewis's Analysis of Modality Succeeds in its Reductive Ambitions.Ross P. Cameron - 2012 - Philosophers' Imprint 12.
    Some argue that Lewisian realism fails as a reduction of modality because in order to meet some criterion of success the account needs to invoke primitive modality. I defend Lewisian realism against this charge; in the process, I hope to shed some light on the conditions of success for a reduction. In §1 I detail the resources the Lewisian modal realist needs. In §2 I argue against Lycan and Shalkowski’s charge that Lewis needs a modal notion of ‘world’ to ensure (...)
  48. The Grounds of Necessity.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (4):348-358.
    Some truths are necessary, others could have been false. Why? What is the source of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent? What's so special about the necessary truths that account for their necessity? In this article, we look at some of the most promising accounts of the grounds of necessity: David Lewis' reduction of necessity to truth at all possible worlds; Kit Fine's reduction of necessity to essence; and accounts of necessity that take the distinction between the necessary (...)
  49. God Exists at Every World: Response to Sheehy.Ross P. Cameron - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (1):95-100.
    Paul Sheehy has argued that the modal realist cannot satisfactorily allow for the necessity of God's existence. In this short paper I show that she can, and that Sheehy only sees a problem because he has failed to appreciate all the resources available to the modal realist. God may be an abstract existent outside spacetime or He may not be: but either way, there is no problem for the modal realist to admit that He exists at every concrete possible world.
  50. Lewisian Realism: Methodology, Epistemology, and Circularity.Ross P. Cameron - 2007 - Synthese 156 (1):143-159.
    In this paper I argue that warrant for Lewis’ Modal Realism is unobtainable. I consider two familiar objections to Lewisian realism – the modal irrelevance objection and the epistemological objection – and argue that Lewis’ response to each is unsatisfactory because they presuppose claims that only the Lewisian realist will accept. Since, I argue, warrant for Lewisian realism can only be obtained if we have a response to each objection that does not presuppose the truth of Lewisian realism, this circularity (...)
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