An Extended Lewis-Stalnaker Semantics and The New Problem of Counterpossibles

Philosophical Papers 33 (1):35-66 (2004)
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Abstract

Closest-possible-world analyses of counterfactuals suffer from what has been called the ‘problem of counterpossibles’: some counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents seem plainly false, but the proposed analyses imply that they are all (vacuously) true. One alleged solution to this problem is the addition of impossible worlds. In this paper, I argue that the closest possible or impossible world analyses that have recently been suggested suffer from the ‘new problem of counterpossibles’: the proposed analyses imply that some plainly true counterpossibles (viz., ‘counterlogicals’) are false. After motivating and presenting the ‘new problem’, I give reasons to think that the most plausible objection to my argument is not compelling.

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Jeffrey Goodman
James Madison University

Citations of this work

Metaphysical Causation.Alastair Wilson - 2018 - Noûs 52 (4):723-751.
Counterlogicals as Counterconventionals.Alexander W. Kocurek & Ethan J. Jerzak - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (4):673-704.
Counterpossibles.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (11):e12787.
Grounding Entails Counterpossible Non‐Triviality.Alastair Wilson - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):716-728.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Impossible Worlds: A Modest Approach.Daniel Nolan - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):535-572.
Theories of actuality.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1974 - Noûs 8 (3):211-231.

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