Are Impossible Worlds Trivial?

In Vit Puncochar & Petr Svarny (eds.), The Logica Yearbook 2012. College Publications (2013)
Authors
Mark Jago
Nottingham University
Abstract
Theories of content are at the centre of philosophical semantics. The most successful general theory of content takes contents to be sets of possible worlds. But such contents are very coarse-grained, for they cannot distinguish between logically equivalent contents. They draw intensional but not hyperintensional distinctions. This is often remedied by including impossible as well as possible worlds in the theory of content. Yet it is often claimed that impossible worlds are metaphysically obscure; and it is sometimes claimed that their use results in a trivial theory of content. In this paper, I set out the need for impossible worlds in a theory of content; I briefly sketch a metaphysical account of their nature; I argue that worlds in general must be very fine-grained entities; and, finally, I argue that the resulting conception of impossible worlds is not a trivial one.
Keywords Impossible worlds  Content  Hyperintensionality  Semantics
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