Philosophical Studies 52 (3):331 - 355 (1987)

Phillip Bricker
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The most commonly heard proposals for reducing possible worlds to language succumb to a simple cardinality argument: it can be shown that there are more possible worlds than there are linguistic entities provided by the proposal. In this paper, I show how the standard proposals can be generalized in a natural way so as to make better use of the resources available to them, and thereby circumvent the cardinality argument. Once it is seen just what the limitations are on these more general proposals, it can be clearly seen where the real difficulty lies with any attempt to reduce possible worlds to language. Roughly, the difficulty is this: no actual language could have the descriptive resources needed to represent all the ways things might have been. I conclude by arguing that this same difficulty spells doom for any nominalist or conceptualist proposal for reducing possible worlds.
Keywords Possible Worlds  Modality  Actualism  Modal Ersatzism
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DOI 10.1007/BF00354052
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]University of Chicago Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Reductive Theories of Modality.Theodore Sider - 2003 - In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 180-208.
The Ersatz Pluriverse.Theodore Sider - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (6):279-315.
Impossible Worlds.Mark Jago - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):713-728.
Possible Worlds.Christopher Menzel - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Impossible Worlds and Partial Belief.Edward Elliott - 2019 - Synthese 196 (8):3433-3458.

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