On Possibility and Possible Worlds

Dissertation, University of California, Davis (1991)

Prima facie, modal statements are important, but it is less than obvious what their truth conditions are; my dissertation is an exploration of the relation between possible worlds and truth conditions for modal statements. What is it in virtue of which a modal statement is true or false? Some respond via an appeal to possible worlds: possibly ${\cal A}$ iff ${\cal A}$ in at least one possible world; necessarily ${\cal A}$ iff ${\cal A}$ in every possible world. I argue that there are two crucially important objections that any worlds approach to modality must face: one having to do with whether there are any worlds, and another regarding the work worlds are supposed to do. A "worlds" account meeting these objections is developed. ;i. David Lewis, who advocates a position according to which possible worlds are "concrete" objects, admits that his view is often met with an "incredulous stare." But accounts of worlds according to which they are abstract objects that are "complete," in that they represent "everything" about different ways the world could be are also problematic. As others have argued, the assumption that abstract objects are complete in this sense leads to contradiction--with the natural conclusions that there are no such objects; I accept this result, and develop my account in terms of partial worlds. ;ii. Suppose someone, pointing at a stack of books, were to assert that any ${\cal A}$ is possible iff ${\cal A}$ appears in some book in that stack. Insofar as there is no appropriate connection between the books in the stack and the world, and modal facts seem to be determined by the world, this may seem a rather bizarre thesis. What privileges these books as ones that are relevant to modality? Arguably, unless the way other worlds are is interestingly constrained by actuality, such worlds will appear as irrelevant to modal truth. My account is developed so as to demonstrate a sense in which worlds are relevant to modal truth. Along the way, other problems, including some connected with variable domains, and individuals that do not actually exist, are addressed
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,419
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Are Impossible Worlds?Barak Krakauer - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):989-1007.
Possible Worlds for Modal Primitivists.Louis deRosset - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (1):109-131.
On Possible Worlds with Modal Parts.Neil Kennedy - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (6):1129-1152.
The Worlds of David Lewis.Tom Richards - 1975 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):105 – 118.
The Limits of Modality.Sam Cowling - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):473-495.
Philosophical Issues in Modal Logic.Byung-Hong Son - 1989 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature