Counterfactual attitudes like imagining, dreaming, and wishing create a problem for the standard formal semantic theory of de re attitude ascriptions. I show how the problem can be avoided if we represent an agent's attitudinal possibilities using "multi-centered worlds", possibleworlds with multiple distinguished individuals, each of which represents an individual with whom the agent is acquainted. I then present a compositional semantics for de re ascriptions according to which singular terms are "assignment-sensitive" expressions and attitude verbs (...) are "assignment shifters". (shrink)
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on (...) the day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possibleworlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possibleworlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
This paper argues for a possibleworlds theory of the content of pictures, with three complications: depictive content is centred, two-dimensional and structured. The paper argues that this theory supports a strong analogy between depictive and other kinds of representation and the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance.
David Lewis holds that a single possible world can provide more than one way things could be. But what are possibleworlds good for if they come apart from ways things could be? We can make sense of this if we go in for a metaphysical understanding of what the world is. The world does not include everything that is the case—only the genuine facts. Understood this way, Lewis's “cheap haecceitism” amounts to a kind of metaphysical anti-haecceitism: (...) it says there aren't any genuine facts about individuals over and above their qualitative roles. (shrink)
In this chapter, I survey what I call Lewisian approaches to modality: approaches that analyze modality in terms of concrete possibleworlds and their parts. I take the following four theses to be characteristic of Lewisian approaches to modality. (1) There is no primitive modality. (2) There exists a plurality of concrete possibleworlds. (3) Actuality is an indexical concept. (4) Modality de re is to be analyzed in terms of counterparts, not transworld identity. After an (...) introductory section in which I motivate analyzing modality in terms of possibleworlds, I devote one section to each of these four theses. For each thesis, I take Lewis’s interpretation and defense as my starting point. I then consider and endorse alternative ways of accepting the thesis, some of which disagree substantially with Lewis’s interpretation or defense. There is more than one way to be a Lewisian about modality. (shrink)
This article includes a basic overview of possible world semantics and a relatively comprehensive overview of three central philosophical conceptions of possibleworlds: Concretism (represented chiefly by Lewis), Abstractionism (represented chiefly by Plantinga), and Combinatorialism (represented chiefly by Armstrong).
If □ is conceived as an operator, i.e., an expression that gives applied to a formula another formula, the expressive power of the language is severely restricted when compared to a language where □ is conceived as a predicate, i.e., an expression that yields a formula if it is applied to a term. This consideration favours the predicate approach. The predicate view, however, is threatened mainly by two problems: Some obvious predicate systems are inconsistent, and possible-worlds semantics for (...) predicates of sentences has not been developed very far. By introducing possible-worlds semantics for the language of arithmetic plus the unary predicate □, we tackle both problems. Given a frame (W, R) consisting of a set W of worlds and a binary relation R on W, we investigate whether we can interpret □ at every world in such a way that □ $\ulcorner A \ulcorner$ holds at a world ᵆ ∊ W if and only if A holds at every world $\upsilon$ ∊ W such that ᵆR $\upsilon$ . The arithmetical vocabulary is interpreted by the standard model at every world. Several 'paradoxes' (like Montague's Theorem, Gödel's Second Incompleteness Theorem, McGee's Theorem on the ω-inconsistency of certain truth theories, etc.) show that many frames, e.g., reflexive frames, do not allow for such an interpretation. We present sufficient and necessary conditions for the existence of a suitable interpretation of □ at any world. Sound and complete semi-formal systems, corresponding to the modal systems K and K4, for the class of all possible-worlds models for predicates and all transitive possible-worlds models are presented. We apply our account also to nonstandard models of arithmetic and other languages than the language of arithmetic. (shrink)
This paper contains an argument to the effect that possibleworlds semantics renders semantic knowledge impossible, no matter what ontological interpretation is given to possibleworlds. The essential contention made is that possibleworlds semantic knowledge is unsafe and this is shown by a parallel with the preface paradox.
The standard view about counterfactuals is that a counterfactual (A > C) is true if and only if the A-worlds most similar to the actual world @ are C-worlds. I argue that the worlds conception of counterfactuals is wrong. I assume that counterfactuals have non-trivial truth-values under physical determinism. I show that the possible-worlds approach cannot explain many embeddings of the form (P > (Q > R)), which intuitively are perfectly assertable, and which must be (...) true if the contingent falsity of (Q > R) is to be explained. If (P > (Q > R)) has a backtracking reading then the contingent facts that (Q > R) needs to be true in the closest P-worlds are absent. If (P > (Q > R)) has a forwardtracking reading, then the laws required by (Q > R) to be true in the closest P-worlds will be absent, because they are violated in those worlds. Solutions like lossy laws or denial of embedding won't work. The only approach to counterfactuals that explains the embedding is a pragmatic metalinguistic approach in which the whole idea that counterfactuals are about a modal reality, be it abstract or concrete, is given up. (shrink)
This chapter provides an introduction to possibleworlds semantics in both logic and the philosophy of language, including a discussion of some of the advantages and challenges for possibleworlds semantics.
If realism about possibleworlds is to succeed in eliminating primitive modality, it must provide an 'analysis' of possible world: nonmodal criteria for demarcating one world from another. This David Lewis has done. Lewis holds, roughly, that worlds are maximal unified regions of logical space. So far, so good. But what Lewis means by 'unification' is too narrow, I think, in two different ways. First, for Lewis, all worlds are (almost) 'globally' unified: at any world, (...) (almost) every part is directly linked to (almost) every other part. I hold instead that some worlds are 'locally' unified: at some worlds, parts are directly linked only to "neighboring" parts. Second, for Lewis, each world is (analogically) 'spatio-temporally' unified; every world is 'spatio-temporally' isolated from every other. I hold instead: a world may be unified by nonspatio-temporal relations; every world is 'absolutely' isolated from every other. If I am right, Lewis's conception of logical space is impoverished: perfectly respectable worlds are missing. (shrink)
Among the most remarkable developments in metaphysics since the 1950’s is the explosion of philosophical interest in possibleworlds. This paper proposes an explanation of what possibleworlds are, and argues that this proposal, the interpreted models conception, should be attractive to anyone who thinks that modal facts are primitive, and so not to be explained in terms of some non-modal notion of “possible world.” I articulate three constraints on any acceptable primitivist explanation of the (...) nature of possibleworlds, and show that the interpreted models conception meets the three constraints. (shrink)
I defend Lewisian modal realism against objections arising from the possibility of 'Island Universes' and other similar cases. The problem comes from Lewis' claim that possibleworlds are spatio-temporally isolated. I suggest a modification of Lewisian modal realism in order to avoid this family of objections. This modification may sound quite radical since it amounts to abandoning the very notion of a possible world, but as radical as it may sound it in fact remains well in the (...) spirit of Lewis' original view. (shrink)
The standard view of clauses embedded under attitude verbs or modal predicates is that they act as terms standing for propositions, a view that faces a range of philosophical and linguistic difficulties. Recently an alternative has been explored according to which embedded clauses act semantically as predicates of content-bearing objects. This paper argues that this approach faces serious problems when it is based on possibleworlds-semantics. It outlines a development of the approach in terms of truthmaker theory instead.
The main objective of the paper is to give initial answers to three important questions. Why did Leibniz visit Spinoza? Why did his preparation for this meeting include a modification of the ontological proof of God? What is the philosophical result of the meeting and what do possibleworlds have to do with it? In order to provide answers, three closely related manuscripts by Leibniz from November 1676 have been compared and the slow conceptual change of his philosophical (...) apparatus has been analyzed. The last of these manuscripts was presented and read in front of Spinoza. Around that time Leibniz abandoned the idea of plurality of worlds (cf. Tschirnhaus) and instead proposed the idea of possibleworlds, thus introducing possibility into the (onto/theo)logical structure itself in order to avoid the “precipice” of Spinoza’s necessity. What is interesting, however, is how exactly this conceptual change occurred at the end of 1676 and what its philosophical and methodological implications are. (shrink)
In the logic of theory change, the standard model is AGM, proposed by Alchourrón et al. (J Symb Log 50:510–530, 1985 ). This paper focuses on the extension of AGM that accounts for contractions of a theory by a set of sentences instead of only by a single sentence. Hansson (Theoria 55:114–132, 1989 ), Fuhrmann and Hansson (J Logic Lang Inf 3:39–74, 1994 ) generalized Partial Meet Contraction to the case of contractions by (possibly non-singleton) sets of sentences. In this (...) paper we present the possibleworlds semantics for partial meet multiple contractions. (shrink)
How do ordinary objects persist through time and across possibleworlds ? How do they manage to have their temporal and modal properties ? These are the questions adressed in this book which is a "guided tour of theories of persistence". The book is divided in two parts. In the first, the two traditional accounts of persistence through time (endurantism and perdurantism) are combined with presentism and eternalism to yield four different views, and their variants. The resulting views (...) are then examined in turn, in order to see which combinations are appealing and which are not. It is argued that the 'worm view' variant of eternalist perdurantism is superior to the other alternatives. In the second part of the book, the same strategy is applied to the combinations of views about persistence across possibleworlds (trans-world identity, counterpart theory, modal perdurants) and views about the nature of worlds, mainly modal realism and abstractionism. Not only all the traditional and well-known views, but also some more original ones, are examined and their pros and cons are carefully weighted. Here again, it is argued that perdurance seems to be the best strategy available. (shrink)
Dualism about possibleworlds says that merely possibleworlds aren’t concrete objects, but the actual world is concrete. This view seems to be the natural one for ersatzers about merely possibleworlds to take; yet one is hard-pressed to find any defenders of it in contemporary modal metaphysics. The main reason is that Dualism struggles with the issue of how merely possibleworlds could have been actual. I explain that there are two (...) different Dualist strategies that can be taken to address the problem. Furthermore, one or other of these strategies should be plausible to anyone who accepts both Existentialism—which tells us that the existence of singular propositions depends on what they directly refer to—and Serious Actualism—which tells us that things must exist in order to instantiate properties. Though it has long been ignored, Dualism is a live option. (shrink)
A century ago, Charles S. Peirce proposed a logical approach to modalities that came close to possible-worlds semantics. This paper investigates his views on modalities through his diagrammatic logic of Existential Graphs (EGs). The contribution of the gamma part of EGs to the study of modalities is examined. Some ramifications of Peirce’s remarks are presented and placed into a contemporary perspective. An appendix is included that provides a transcription with commentary of Peirce’s unpublished manuscript on modality from 1901.
In his "Two concepts of possibleworlds", Peter Van Inwagen explores two kinds of views about the nature of possibleworlds : abstractionism and concretism. The latter is the view defended by David Lewis who claims that possibleworlds are concrete spatio-temporal universes, very much like our own, causally and spatio-temporally disconnected from each other. The former is the view of the majority who claims that possibleworlds are some kind of abstract (...) objects – such as propositions, properties, states of affairs, or sets of numbers. In this paper, I will develop this view in an 'extreme abstractionist' way, appealing to a 'modal bundle theory', and I will try to show that it is preferable to the standard abstractionist ones. Finally, I will compare this kind of abstractionism to concretism, only to find that the difference between the two is minimal. (shrink)
The most commonly heard proposals for reducing possibleworlds to language succumb to a simple cardinality argument: it can be shown that there are more possibleworlds 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 possibleworlds 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 possibleworlds. (shrink)
The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an informationtheoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borei numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that individuate) (...) different possibleworlds. Section 3 adopts the Hamming distance between Borei numbers as a metric to calculate the distance between possibleworlds. In Sects. 4 and 5, radical and moderate informational scepticism are analysed using Borei numbers and Hamming distances, and shown to be either harmless (extreme form) or actually fruitful (moderate form). Section 6 further clarifies the approach by replying to some potential objections. In the conclusion, the Peircean nature of the overall approach is briefly discussed. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the relationship between the idea of possibleworlds and the notion of the beauty of God. I argue that there is a clear contradiction between the idea that God is utterly and completely beautiful on the one hand and the notion that He contains within himself all possibleworlds on the other. Since some of the possibleworlds residing in the mind of the deity are ugly, their presence seems (...) to compromise God's complete and utter beauty. (shrink)
In his paper "Are There Set Theoretic PossibleWorlds?", Selmer Bringsjord argued that the set theoretic definition of possibleworlds proffered by, among others, Robert Adams and Alvin Plantinga is incoherent. It is the purpose of this note to evaluate that argument. The upshot: these set theoretic accounts can be preserved, but only by abandoning the power set axiom.
The role of possibleworlds in philosophy is hard to overestimate. Nevertheless, their nature and existence is very controversial. This is particularly serious, since their standard applications depend on there being sufficiently many of them. The paper develops an account of possibleworlds on which it is particularly easy to believe in their existence: an account of possibleworlds as pleonastic entities. Pleonastic entities are entities whose existence can be validly inferred from statements that (...) neither refer to nor quantify over them as a matter of conceptual necessity. Definitions are proposed that ensure that this is the case for possibleworlds. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Stalnaker’s recent attempt to outline a realist interpretation of possibleworlds semantics that lacks substantive metaphysical commitments. The limitations of his approach are used to draw some more general lessons about the non-representational artefacts of formal representations. Three key conclusions are drawn. Stalnaker’s account of possibleworlds semantics’ non-representational artefacts does not cohere with his modal metaphysics. Invariance-based analyses of non-representational artefacts cannot capture a certain kind of artefact. Stalnaker must treat instrumentally those (...) aspects of possibleworlds formalism governing the interaction between quantification and modality, under any analysis whatsoever of non-representational artefacts. (shrink)
McCall (1984) offered a semantics of counterfactual conditionals based on “real possibleworlds” that avoids using the vague notion of similarity between possibleworlds. I will propose an interpretation of McCall’s counterfactuals in a formal framework based on Baltag-Moss-Solecki events and protocols. Moreover, I will argue that using this interpretation one can avoid an objection raised by Otte (1987).
My main purpose in this article is to present an argument for the idea that necessity qua truth in all possibleworlds, without other qualifications, leads us to contradiction. If we do not want to accept the contradiction, we will face a dilemma: or accepting that everything we take as contingent is in fact necessary, or accepting that we cannot translate some sentences – at least the indexed to worlds sentences – to the possibleworlds (...) vocabulary. We have an intuition – and we develop an argument for it – that if “P”, evaluated in w*, is a contingent truth, so it cannot be the case that “P in w*” is a necessary truth. Generally, the argument tries to show that “P”, evaluated in w*, and “P in w*” are made true by the same contingent fact. If we suppose that “P in w*” is necessary, we would have to suppose that the fact that makes it true is also necessary, which would be contradictory with the fact that makes “P” true in w*, if we accept that what makes “P” in w* and “P in w*” true is the same fact. I attain such an aim by presenting an argument that is divided in two parts, one to imply the contradiction and the other to show that there is no relevant difference between the indicated sentences, by showing how the dilemma arises, and by answering some possible objections. This is an important objective because the possibleworlds vocabulary is the default vocabulary to treat the modalities of necessity and possibility. And if it is flawed, it is important that we identify the flaw and fix it – which is exactly what we intend to do at the end of this article, by suggesting some qualification at the necessity notion, that the necessity is the native truth in all possibleworlds. And this would save the possibleworlds vocabulary from the presented objection. (shrink)
Accounts of modality in terms of fictional possibleworlds face an objection based on the idea that when modal claims are analysed in terms of fictions, the connection between analysans and analysandum seems artificial. Strong modal fictionalism, the theory according to which modal claims are analysed in terms of a fiction, has been defended by, among others, Seahwa Kim, who has recently claimed that the philosophical objection that the connection between modality and fictions is artificial can be met. (...) I propose a new way of spelling out the intuition of artificiality and show that strong modal fictionalism should be rejected. (shrink)
I outline a neo-Fregean strategy in the debate on the existence of possibleworlds. The criterion of identity and the criterion of application are formulated. Special attention is paid to the fact that speakers do not possess proper names for worlds. A broadly Quinean solution is proposed in response to this difficulty.
Philosophers have long analyzed the truth-condition of counterfactual conditionals in terms of the possible-worlds semantics advanced by Lewis  and Stalnaker . In this paper, I argue that, from the perspective of philosophical semantics, the causal modeling semantics proposed by Pearl  and others (e.g., Briggs ) is more plausible than the Lewis-Stalnaker possible-worlds semantics. I offer two reasons. First, the possible-worlds semantics has suffered from a specific type of counterexamples. While the causal modeling (...) semantics can handle such examples with ease, the only way for the possible-worlds semantics to do so seems to cost it its distinctive status as a philosophical semantics. Second, the causal modeling semantics, but not the possible-worlds semantics, has the resources enough for accounting for both forward-tracking and backtracking counterfactual conditionals. (shrink)
In this paper, an argument of Alvin Plantinga's for the existence of abstract possibleworlds is shown to be unsound. The argument is based on a principle Plantinga calls "Quasicompactness", due to its structural similarity to the notion of compactness in first-order logic. The principle is shown to be false.
Are transcendental phenomenology and possibleworlds semantics, two seemingly disparate, perhaps even incompatible philosophical traditions, actually complementary? Have two well-known representatives of each tradition, J.N. Mohanty and J. Hintikka, misinterpreted the other's philosophical "program" in such a way that they did not recognize the complementarity? Charles Harvey 1 has recently argued that the answer to both questions is "yes." Here I intend to argue that the answer to the first is unclear, whereas the answer to the second is (...) "no." Mohanty (at least) rightly cites fundamental differences between transcendental phenomenology and possibleworlds semantics. (shrink)
David Lewis' modal counterpart theory falls prey to the famous Saul Kripke's objection, and this is mostly due to his 'static' ontology (divergence) of possibleworlds. This paper examines a genuinely realist but different, branching ontology of possibleworlds and a new definition of the counterpart relation, which attempts to provide us with a better account of de re modality, and to meet satisfactorily Kripke's claim, while being also ontologically more 'parsimonious'.
The question as to whether some objects are possibleworlds that have an initial segment in common, i.e. so that their fusion is a temporal tree whose branches are possibleworlds, arises both for those who hold that our universe has the structure of a temporal tree and for those who hold that what there is includes concrete universes of every possible variety. The notion of “possible world” employed in the question is seen to (...) be the notion of an object of a kind such that objects of that kind play a certain theoretical role. Lewis’s discussion of the question is thereby clarified but is nevertheless inadequate; his negative answer is correct but even from his combinatorialist viewpoint the rationale he provides for this answer is misguided. I explain why the combinatorialist advocate of concrete plenitude should hold that no object is a tree of possibleworlds. Then I explain that for a different reason the nomic essentialist advocate of concrete plenitude should hold this much too. (shrink)
As part of an ongoing study of causal models in the history of science, a counterfactual scenario in the history of modern astronomy is explored with the aid of computer simulations. After the definition of “linking advance”, a possible world involving technological antecedence is described, branching out in 1510, in which the telescope is invented 70 years before its actual construction, at the time in which Fracastoro actually built the first prototelescope. By using the principle of the closest (...) class='Hi'>possible world, we estimate that in this scenario the discovery of the elliptical orbit of Mars would by anticipated by only 28 years. The second part of the paper involves an estimate of the probability of the previous scenario, guided by the principle that the actual world is the mean and using computer simulations to create possibleworlds in which the time spans between advances is varied according to a gamma distribution function. Taking into account the importance of the use of the diaphragm for the invention of the telescope, the probability that the telescope were built by 1538 for a branching time at 1510 is found to be smaller than 1%. The work shows that one of the important features of computational simulations in philosophy of science is to serve as a consistency check for the intuitions and speculations of the philosopher. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that there is an analogy between time and modality: What is true of time, mutatis mutandis, should be true of modality, and vice versa. However, I think that the importance of this analogy has not been truly appreciated in the literature. In this paper, I try to offer a plausible account of the relationship between time and modality based on what is known as presentist ersatzism. If the attempt succeeds, it will be shown that ersatzists about (...) time are better able to explain what possibleworlds are. (shrink)
We show that, given standard assumptions about classical dynamical systems, Lewis' conception of possibleworlds is incompatible with classical physics in that it would imply that all dynamical systems were integrable.
Of late, evidentiality has received great attention in formal semantics. In this paper I develop ‘evidentiality-informed’ truth conditions for modal operators such as must and may . With language data drawn from Luoping Nase (a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the P.R. of China and belonging to the Yi Nationality), I illustrate that epistemic modals clash with clauses articulating first-hand information. I then demonstrate that existing models such as Kratzer’s graded possible-worlds semantics fail to provide accurate truth conditions for (...) modals tagging clauses with first-hand information. As a remedy I propose a fuzzy version of possible-worlds semantics with various grades of belief and knowledge. In addition to preserving the expressive power of graded possible-worlds semantics, the fuzzy model will be shown to supply appropriate truth conditions for epistemic modals appended to evidential clauses (i.e. clauses expressing first-hand information). (shrink)
The issue of reduction of propositions to sets of possibleworlds is addressed. It is shown that, under some natural assumptions, there always exist recursive propositions, i.e. decidable sets of possibleworlds, which are not assigned to any sentence of a language. Some consequences of this result are discussed.
The paper is a brief survey of the most important semantic constructions founded on the concept of possible world. It is impossible to capture in one short paper the whole variety of the problems connected with manifold applications of possibleworlds. Hence, after a brief explanation of some philosophical matters I take a look at possibleworlds from rather technical standpoint of logic and focus on the applications in formal semantics. In particular, I would like (...) to focus on the fruitful marriage of possible world semantics and algebra and its evolution leading to very general construction of Wójcicki called referential semantics and some of its refinements. The presentation is informal and sketchy; the main purpose is to put in one place a short, and readable I hope, description of the most important constructions and to point out the main sources of these solutions. (shrink)
“The Craft of Formal Logic” is Arthur Prior’s unpublished textbook, written in 1950–51, in which he developed a theory of modality as quantification over possibleworlds-like objects. This theory predates most of the prominent pioneering texts in possibleworlds semantics and anticipates the significance of its basic concept in modal logic. Prior explicitly defines modal operators as quantifiers of ‘entities’ with modal character. Although he talks about these ‘entities’ only informally, and hesitates how to name them, (...) using alternately the phrases ‘possible states of affairs’, ‘chances’, ‘cases’ or ‘peculiar objects’, he is nevertheless very clear that they should be the fundamental concept of any theory of modality as a form of quantity. Without the assumption that modal operators quantify over such modal objects, the modal system will be incapable of distinguishing an actually true proposition from a necessarily true one. Due to the fact that Prior never made any direct reference to this theory in his subsequently published papers, it remained largely unknown. The comparison of “The Craft” with some of his papers on tense logic suggests that this early theory of modality underlies his later work on temporality. (shrink)
This paper is about possibleworlds semantics for propositional attitude sentences. In particular I shall focus on belief reports in English such as "Lusina believes that tofu is nutritious." It is well-known that possibleworlds semantics for such reports suffers from the so-called _problem of equivalence_ . In this paper I shall examine some attempts to deal with this problem and argue that they are unsatisfactory.
Formalized physical theories are not, as a rule, stated in intensional languages. Yet in talking about them we often treat them as if they were. We say for instance: 'Consider what would happen if instead of p's being true q were. In such a case r would be likely.' If we say this sort of thing, p, q and r appear to stand for the meanings of sentences of the theory, but meanings in some intensional sense. Now it is very (...) easy to extend the syntax of the formal theory by adding all sorts of intensional operators, e.g. a modal operator; and it is possible to extend the semantics by adding a set of possibleworlds and evaluating the modal formulae in the usual way. But this procedure is open to the criticism that we are extending the theory by adding something which is not already there. In particular the criticism will be that the possibleworlds required by the semantics seem to have no connection with the intended interpretations of the original physical theory. The aim of this paper is to shew how a set of possibleworlds is already implicit in the intended interpretations of a formally presented physical theory and that these interpretations induce, in a comparatively direct way, an intensional semantics which corresponds to the original one. (shrink)
This thesis is an argument for the view that there are problems for Modal Reductionism, the thesis that modality can satisfactorily be defined in non-modal terms. -/- I proceed via a case study of David Lewis’s theory of concrete possibleworlds. This theory is commonly regarded as the best and most influential candidate reductive theory of modality. Based on a detailed examination of its ontology, analysis and justification, I conclude that it does badly with respect to the following (...) four minimal conditions on a satisfactory reductive theory of modality: that it be (a) genuinely reductive, (b) materially adequate, (c) conceptually adequate and (d) that its justification provides good reason to think it true. -/- These problems for Lewis’s theory are not, I suggest, due to his idiosyncratic conception of possibleworlds as concrete entities. Rather, because Lewis’s theory can be seen to represent an important class of structurally similar reductive theories of modality, the problems for Lewis’s theory generalise to problems for these other theories. This suggests that Modal Reductionism is unpromising. In the light of this, the alternative approach to understanding modality, Modal Primitivism, appears more attractive. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 19 The theory of possibleworlds has been minimally employed in the field of theory and philosophy of history, even though it has found a place as a tool in other areas of philosophy. Discussion has mostly focused on arguments concerning counterfactual history’s status as either useful or harmful. The theory of possibleworlds can, however be used also to analyze historical writing. The concept of textual possibleworlds offers an (...) interesting framework to work with for analyzing a historical text’s characteristics and features. However, one of the challenges is that the literary theory’s notion of possibleworlds is that they are metaphorical in nature. This in itself is not problematic but while discussing about history, which arguably deals with the real world, the terminology can become muddled. The latest attempt to combine the literary and philosophical notions of possibleworlds and apply it to historiography came from Lubomír Doležel in his _Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage_. I offer some criticism to his usage of possibleworlds to separate history and fiction, and argue that when historiography is under discussion a more philosophical notion of possibleworlds should be prioritized over the metaphorical interpretation of possibleworlds. (shrink)