SATS 17 (2):145-158 (2016)

Mattias Skipper
National University of Singapore
One well-known objection to the traditional Lewis-Stalnaker semantics of counterfactuals is that it delivers counterintuitive semantic verdicts for many counterpossibles (counterfactuals with necessarily false antecedents). To remedy this problem, several authors have proposed extending the set of possible worlds by impossible worlds at which necessary falsehoods may be true. Linguistic ersatz theorists often construe impossible worlds as maximal, inconsistent sets of sentences in some sufficiently expressive language. However, in a recent paper, Bjerring (2014) argues that the “extended” Lewis-Stalnaker semantics delivers the wrong truth-values for many counterpossibles if impossible worlds are required to be maximal. To make room for non-maximal or partial impossible worlds, Bjerring considers two alternative world-ontologies: either (i) we construe impossible worlds as arbitrary (maximal or partial) inconsistent sets of sentences, or (ii) we construe them as (maximal or partial) inconsistent sets of sentences that are closed and consistent with respect to some non-classical logic. Bjerring raises an objection against (i), and suggests that we opt for (ii). In this paper, I argue, first, that Bjerring’s objection against (i) conflates two different conceptions of what it means for a logic to be true at a world. Second, I argue that (ii) imposes too strong constraints on what counts as an impossible world. I conclude that linguistic ersatzists should construe impossible worlds as arbitrary (maximal or partial) inconsistent sets of sentences.
Keywords Counterfactuals  Counterpossibles  Impossible worlds  Possible worlds  Lewis-Stalnaker semantics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1515/sats-2015-0016
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Impossible Worlds.Daniel Nolan - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (4):360-372.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Omission Impossible.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2575-2589.
Alternative Frameworks and Counterpossibles.Maciej Sendłak - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (1):24-41.
Counterpossibles.Barak Krakauer - 2012 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts
Counterpossibles and Similarity.David Vander Laan - 2004 - In Frank Jackson & Graham Priest (eds.), Lewisian Themes: The Philosophy of David K. Lewis. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. pp. 258-275.
Counteressential Conditionals.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):73-81.
Remarks on Counterpossibles.Berit Brogaard & Joe Salerno - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):639-660.
Impossible Worlds.David Vander Laan - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
Counterpossibles (Not Only) for Dispositionalists.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2681-2700.
Who's Afraid of Impossible Worlds?Edwin D. Mares - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):516-526.
Impossible Worlds.Mark Jago - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):713-728.
The Ontology of Impossible Worlds.David A. Vander Laan - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):597-620.
Are Impossible Worlds Trivial?Mark Jago - 2013 - In Vit Puncochar & Petr Svarny (eds.), The Logica Yearbook 2012. College Publications.
What Are Impossible Worlds?Barak Krakauer - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):989-1007.


Added to PP index

Total views
175 ( #62,881 of 2,463,161 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #53,478 of 2,463,161 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes