Possible Worlds

Edited by Dan Marshall (Lingnan University)
About this topic
Summary Possible worlds are complete ways things could be. The metaphysics of possible worlds became a central concern of philosophers in the second half of the twentieth century with the advent of modal logic and possible worlds semantics. Important debates about possible worlds include whether there are any possible worlds, whether possible worlds are abstract or concrete, and whether possible worlds are constructed out other types of entities, such as sets, properties or propositions.
Key works Prominent theories of possible worlds include: the modal realism of Lewis 1986; ersatz theories such as Carnap 1947 , Jeffrey 1965, Hintikka 1969, Plantinga 1974, Stalnaker 1976, Melia 2001, and Sider 2002; and fictionalist theories such as Rosen 1990, and Armstrong 1989.
Introductions Two papers that provide a good introduction to possible worlds are Menzel 2008 and Sider 2003. Two excellent book length introductions to possible worlds are Melia 2003 and Divers 2002, the latter being more advanced than the former.
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  1. Quiddytyzm i quidditas w metafizyce analitycznej.Karol Lenart - 2020 - Filozofia Nauki 28 (1):61-84.
    The paper is a survey of contemporary quidditism, understood as two interrelated metaphysicalpositions — recombinatorial quidditism, which is an account of the nature of possibilities, andindividuation quidditism, which is concerned with the problem of how to individuate properties.I have three aims: to examine the commitments and consequences of both views, to investigatethe relationships between them, and to sketch the logic of the dispute between structuralism andquidditism. I explain how these views relate to Ramseyan humility, according to which we cannotknow the (...)
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  2. Tichý's Possible Worlds.Jiri Raclavsky - 2014 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 21 (4): 471-491.
    Pavel Tichy originally published his interesting conception of possible worlds in 1968. Even though he modified it over the following twenty five years, its core remained unchanged. None of his thirty journal papers or books containing the notion of possible worlds was a study in metaphysics, Tichy (and most of his followers) always introduced the notion in the context of other investigations where he applied his Transparent intensional logic either to the semantic analysis of natural language or explications of other (...)
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  3. Modal Quantification Without Worlds.Billy Dunaway - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8.
    This paper is about avoiding commitment to an ontology of possible worlds with two primitives: a hyperintensional connective like ‘in virtue of’, and primitive quantification into predicate position. I argue that these tools (which some believe can be independently motivated) render dispensable the ontology of possible worlds needed by traditional anaylses of modality. They also shed new light on the notion of truth-at-a-world.
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  4. The World Is a Necessary Being.Chad Vance - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):377-390.
    A standard conception of metaphysical modality accepts that Some de re modal claims are true, These should be understood in terms of a possible worlds semantics, and There is trans-world identity. For instance, it seems true that Humphrey could have won the election. In possible worlds speak, we say that there exists a possible world where Humphrey wins the election. Furthermore, had that possibility been actualized instead of this one, Humphrey—our Humphrey, the very same man—would still have existed. Here, I (...)
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  5. Quine's Monism and Modal Eliminativism in the Realm of Superveniences.Atilla Akalın - 2019 - International Journal of Social Humanities Sciences Research (JSHRS) 6 (34):795-800.
    This study asserts that W.V.O. Quine’s eliminative philosophical gaze into mereological composition affects inevitably his interpretations of composition theories of ontology. To investigate Quine’s property monism from the account of modal eliminativism, I applied to his solution for the paradoxes of de re modalities’ . Because of its vital role to figure out how dispositions are encountered by Quine, it was significantly noted that the realm of de re modalities doesn’t include contingent and impossible inferences about things. Therefore, for him, (...)
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  6. The Possible World Defense: Why Our Current Legal Thinking About Entrapment is Philosophically Suspect.Luke William Hunt - 2019 - American Philosophical Association Blog.
    Essay on philosophical problems with police sting operations and the legal doctrine of entrapment.
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  7. Agents’ Abilities.Romy Jaster - 2020 - Berlin, New York: De Gruyter.
    In the book, I provide an account of what it is for an agent to have an ability. According to the Success View, abilities are all about success across possible situations. In developing and applying the view, the book elucidates the relation between abilities on the one hand and possibility, counterfactuals, and dispositions on the other; it sheds light on the distinction between general and specific abilities; it offers an understanding of degrees of abilities; it explains which role intentions and (...)
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  8. Phenomenological Actualism. A Husserlian Metaphysics of Modality?Michael Wallner - 2014 - In Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl & Harald A. Wiltsche (eds.), Analytical and Continental Philosophy: Methods and Perspectives. Papers of the 37th International Wittgenstein Symposium. pp. 283-285.
    Considering the importance of possible-world semantics for modal logic and for current debates in the philosophy of modality, a phenomenologist may want to ask whether it makes sense to speak of “possible worlds” in phenomenology. The answer will depend on how "possible worlds" are to be interpreted. As that latter question is the subject of the debate about possibilism and actualism in contemporary modal metaphysics, my aim in this paper is to get a better grip on the former question by (...)
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  9. Modal Insurance: Probabilities, Risk, and Degrees of Luck.Evan Malone - forthcoming - Southwest Philosophical Studies.
    Many widely divergent accounts of luck have been offered or employed in discussing an equally wide range of philosophical topics. We should, then, expect to find some unified philosophical conception of luck of which moral luck, epistemic luck, and luck egalitarianism are species. One of the attempts to provide such an account is that offered by Duncan Pritchard, which he refers to as the modal account. This view commits us to calling an event lucky when it obtains in this world, (...)
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  10. Clauses as Semantic Predicates: Difficulties for Possible-Worlds Semantics.Friederike Moltmann - 2018 - Festschrift for Angelika Kratzer.
    The standard view of clauses embedded under attitude verbs or modal predicates is that they act as terms standing for propositions, a view that faces a range of philosophical and linguistic difficulties. Recently an alternative has been explored according to which embedded clauses act semantically as predicates of content-bearing objects. This paper argues that this approach faces serious problems when it is based on possible worlds-semantics. It outlines a development of the approach in terms of truthmaker theory instead.
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  11. Theories in the Light of Contingency and Change: Possible Future Worlds and Well-Grounded Hope as a Supplement to Truth.Frank Ulrich - unknown
    Based on a critical account of the dominant concept of theory, the paper presents an alterna-tive, wider notion of theory. It is motivated by the need to cope with a contingent research subject and the assumption that IS should provide an orientation for managing the digital transfor-mation. Unlike neo-positivistic notions of theory, the proposed conception is not restricted to de-scriptions of the factual, but may be aimed at de-signing possible future worlds. Conceiving of possible future worlds requires overcoming the barriers (...)
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  12. The Presence of Other Worlds: The Findings of Emmanuel Swedenborg. [REVIEW]Bernhard Mollenhauer - 1978 - International Philosophical Quarterly 18 (1):111-112.
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  13. Text Worlds.Jeroen Vandaele & Geert Brône - 2009 - In Jeroen Vandaele & Geert Brône (eds.), Cognitive Poetics: Goals, Gains and Gaps. Mouton de Gruyter.
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  14. Would Have Become: Empty or Modal Will.Rodney Huddleston - 1979 - .
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  15. Worlds, Triangles and Bolts: Reply to Nulty.Julien Beillard - 2016 - Metaphysica 17 (2).
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  16. Perceived Worlds, Inferred Worlds, the World.Lawrence Sklar - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (11):693.
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  17. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus.William D. Phillips, Jr., Carla Rahn Phillips.Richard W. Unger - 1993 - Speculum 68 (1):242-244.
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  18. Other Worlds.David Crystal - 1987 - New Blackfriars 68 (806):285-287.
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  19. Other Worlds.Fergus Kerr - 2006 - New Blackfriars 87 (1009):209-210.
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  20. II—John Divers: Coincidence and Form.John Divers - 2008 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 82 (1):119-137.
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  21. Astronomy and Physics The Celestial Worlds Discover'd. By Christian Huygens. London: F. Cass. 1968. Pp. + Vi + 160, with 5 Figs. 45s. [REVIEW]A. Armitage - 1969 - British Journal for the History of Science 4 (4):406-407.
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  22. Relacja między nauką o logicznych możliwościach a zasadą zachowania energii. Rola badań Huygensa i Leibniza dla nowożytnej refleksji nad wolnością woli.Anna Szyrwińska - 2015 - IDEA – Studia Nad Strukturą I Rozwojem Pojęć Filozoficznych:191-202.
    The article investigates the relationship between Leibniz’s and Huygens’ theory of possibility and the principle of conservation of energy. It assumes that their criticisms of Cartesian views concerning those questions as well as their own achievements contributed to the formation of a new metaphysical basis for modern discussions on the freedom of the will. There are especially two problems whose role is crucial in this context, namely the question of God’s knowledge of future conditionals (contingentia futura) and the mind-body distinction.
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  23. Response to Ohad Nachtomy’s “Individuals, Worlds, and Relations: A Discussion of Catherine Wilson’s ‘Plenitude and Compossibility in Leibniz’”.Catherine Wilson - 2001 - The Leibniz Review 11:125-129.
    Ohad Nachtomy restates the main points of “Plenitude and Compossibility” with admirable fidelity and economy. His proposed revisions, based on the distinction between incomplete and complete substances and on the mind-relativity of relations, are intriguing additions to his earlier paper in Studia Leibnitiana and deserve careful consideration. Some brief remarks on the context of the problem, will, I hope, help to set the stage for the assessment of our various views.
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  24. The Best of All Possible Worlds.P. Gottfried - 1996 - Télos 1996 (109):189-192.
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  25. Jute in the World, Worlds of Jute.Gordon T. Stewart - 2014 - International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy 8 (2/3):92.
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  26. Mögliche Welten Bei David Lewis Und Bei Kripke.Michael-Thomas Liske - 1994 - In Ulla Wessels & Georg Meggle (eds.), Analyomen / Analyomen: Proceedings of the 1st Conference "Perspectives in Analytical Philosophy". De Gruyter. pp. 464-473.
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  27. Necessity, Worlds, and God.Scott A. Shalkowski - 2015 - In Miroslaw Szatkowski (ed.), God, Truth, and Other Enigmas. De Gruyter. pp. 217-240.
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  28. The Unity of Worlds and of Nature.Baden Powell - 1856
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  29. The Fictional Worlds of John Cowper Powys.Joseph Boulter - 1999
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  30. More Worlds Than One.David Brewster - 1874
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  31. A Week's Conversation on the Plurality of Worlds, Tr. By Mrs. A. Behn, J. Glanvil, J. Hughes and W. Gardner. Tol Which is Added, Mr. Addison's Defence on the Newtonian Philosophy. [REVIEW]Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, Joseph Addison & Aphra Behn - 1801
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  32. G. Hawthorn, "Plausible Worlds". [REVIEW]J. L. Gorman - 1993 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies:150.
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  33. “New Worlds”.Robert Appelbaum - 2008 - Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History 38 (1):61-74.
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  34. Dropping a few worlds.E. Bencivenga - 1983 - Logique Et Analyse 26 (2):241.
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  35. Actualisme et possibilisme: l'évaluation dans les mondes possibles.Eros Corazza - 1989 - Logique Et Analyse 32 (25):81.
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  36. Worlds Without Content: Against Formalism. [REVIEW]Katerina Deligiorgi - 1993 - Radical Philosophy 63.
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  37. Essays on Thoughts and Worlds. [REVIEW]J. C. Begg - 1958 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 36:237.
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  38. Constructivism, Constructions, and the Plurality of Worlds.T. Sedová - 2008 - Filozofia 63:155-160.
    The paper is a continuation of the author’s preceeding article Constructivism as a Philosophy and a Sociology of Science . It sheds light on Goodman’s irrealism as well as on the place of the constructions in producing the plurality of worlds. It gives the definition of the strong constructivism, which rejects the idea of representation, while one-sidedly stressing the external social determinants of knowledge . In particular, some properties of the constructs are shown as related to the information and its (...)
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  39. The Phenomenological Conception of the Possible Worlds and the Creative Function of Man.Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka - 1983 - Analecta Husserliana 14:353.
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  40. Dead Worlds.The Editor The Editor - 1946 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1):5.
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  41. Worlds in Which We Participate.Hartley Burr Alexander - 1935 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 16 (2):103.
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  42. Between Words and Worlds. A Festschrift for Pavel Materna.Marián Zouhar - 2001 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 8 (3):347-350.
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  43. Juan Caramuel and the Possible Worlds Theory.Petr Dvooak - 2002 - Acta Comeniana 14:87-98.
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  44. Sal Restivo Et Al's Math Worlds. [REVIEW]Paul Ernest - 1994 - Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal 7.
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  45. The Logic of Plurality. [REVIEW]B. W. A. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):549-549.
    Among the quantificational notions neglected by classical logic are "many," "few," and "nearly all." Despite the apparent vagueness associated with these terms in ordinary discourse, in specific contexts we can and do draw strict inferences from statements in which they occur. In this pioneering work, Altham has attempted to uncover something of the formal logic that justifies such inferences. He begins by showing the mutual interdefinability of the three terms. If negation and any one of them are taken as primitive, (...)
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  46. Truth and Reality in Actuality. [REVIEW]J. F. J. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (2):364-365.
    The author maintains that "man’s chief purpose in life consists in wanting to know the truth and to experience the real." But in the tradition of Kant and recent continental philosophy, he claims that one can know the real only as constituted by the mind, not as it is in itself. Rauche goes on to conclude, that all truths are perspectival and that the Truth can never be known—though it remains our highest aspiration. The perspectival character of truth is the (...)
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  47. Worlds to Know: A Philosophy of Cosmic Perspectives. [REVIEW]G. R. B. - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (1):152-152.
    A spirited critique of what Tsanoff believes to be two misguided themes in much of Western thought: cosmologies which take substances and things, rather than processes and actions, as basic, and the tendency to reduce the multiple dimensions of reality to one particular perspective. The contention is advanced that in assuming substances to be primary, philosophers have brought upon themselves the vexing problems involved in a world view that distinguishes sharply between minds and bodies. Tsanoff suggests that the problem of (...)
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  48. The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno. [REVIEW]G. L. - 1970 - Review of Metaphysics 24 (2):343-344.
    Paterson sees Bruno as a philosopher of rational thought and the open society, martyred by the forces of social constraint. She outlines his cosmology and shows how his theory of knowledge and his ethics derive from it. For Bruno, the fabric of the universe is a dynamic, spirited, divine power which continually generates the infinite multiplicity of things and draws them back into itself. Man's intellect mirrors the universal motion of creation and corruption, drawing ideas from sensibility as the divine (...)
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  49. Worlds Apart: A Dialogue of the 1960's. [REVIEW]L. B. C. - 1964 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):624-624.
    An urbanely written dialogue which convincingly demonstrates the "compartmentalized" character of a number of modern cosmologies. The implications and inconsistencies of biological and physical views of nature, space and time take up the first part of the book; the second turns to an examination of a Steineresque mysticism, a puzzling emphasis since the objections raised to it in the text itself are never satisfactorily answered. Barfield's major polemic point, the need for more communication among intellectual disciplines as they examine their (...)
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  50. A Theory of Possibility. [REVIEW]J. R. A. - 1977 - Review of Metaphysics 31 (2):329-330.
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