Actual facts abound and actual propositions are true because there is a world, the actual world, that the propositions correctly describe. Possibilities abound as well. The actual world reveals what there is, but it is far from clear that it also reveals what there might be. Philosophers have been aware of this limitation and have introduced the notion of a possible world. Finally, impossibilities abound because it turned out that possibilities do not exhaust the modal space as a whole. Beside (...) the actual facts, and facts about the possible, there are facts about what is impossible. In order to explain this, philosophers have introduced the notion of an impossible world. -/- This article is about impossible worlds. First, there is a presentation of the motivations for postulating impossible worlds as a tool for analysing impossible phenomena. This apparatus seems to deliver great advances in modal logic and semantics, but at the same time it gives rise to metaphysical issues concerning the nature of impossible worlds. Discourse about impossible worlds is explained in Sections 2 and 3. Section 4 provides an overview of the theories in discussion in the academic literature, and Section 5 summarises the drawbacks of those theories. Section 6 takes a closer look at the logical structure of impossible worlds, and Section 7 discusses the connection between impossible worlds and hyperintensionality. (shrink)
I argue that modal realism is unable to account for fictional discourse. My starting point is an overview of modal realism. I then present a dilemma for modal realism regarding fictional characters. Finally, I provide responses to both horns of the dilemma, one motivating modal dimensionalism, the other motivating a disjunctive analysis of modality.
Modal dimensionalism is realism about spaces, times and worlds—metaphysical indices that make objects spatial, temporal and modal, respectively, and that play the role of alethic relativizers, i.e. items to which matters of truth are relativized. This paper examines several arguments against MD and shows that MD offers a feasible way to understand modal discourse.
The paper deals with such a modification of genuine modal realism as to accommodate impossible worlds into its ontology. First of all, the theory of modal realism is presented. Next, several motivations for the acceptance of impossible worlds are adduced. Further, Lewis’s argument against impossible worlds is presented. It is argued that the argument can be weakened by rejection of one of its premises. Finally, two objections against the proposal are countered. Although my strategy accounts for the Opinion concerning the (...) impossible, it allegedly violates another Opinion which conceives the reality classical. It seems, however, that there is no no-question-begging reason to think that reality is classical. How can we know, after all, which logic describes reality? Without a definite answer to the question, the incredibility objection then simply collapses into a statement of a possibilist dogma. (shrink)
The paper outlines and immediately discusses the so-called ‘soft’ impossibility, i.e., non-logical impossibility generated by modal realism. It will be shown that although in a particular case genuine modal realism, straightforwardly applied, deems impossible a proposition that other philosophers have claimed to be (intuitively) possible, there is a variety of methodologically acceptable moves available in order to avoid the problem. The impossibility at issue is the existence of island universes. Given the Lewisian analysis there are three points at which we (...) might try to square genuine modal realism with such a controversial and problematic claim of (im)possibility, namely: a) the contraction of our pre-theoretical opinions about possibility, b) the revision of some Lewisian definitions and/or c) the extension of our ontological commitments. I shall look at each of these approaches applied to the problematic case. (shrink)
According to modal realism formulated by David Lewis, there exist concrete possible worlds. As he argues the hypothesis is serviceable and that is a sufficient reason to think it is true. On the other side, Lewis does not consider the pragmatic reasons to be conclusive. He admits that the theoretical benefits of modal realism can be illusory or that the acceptance of controversial ontology for the sake of theoretical benefits might be misguided in the first place. In the first part (...) of the paper, I consider the worry and conclude that although the worry is justified, there can be an epistemological justification for his theory. Next, I outline the so-called indispensability argument for the legitimacy of mathematical Platonism. Finally, I argue that the argument, if accepted, can be applied to metaphysics in general, to the arguing for the existence of concrete (im)possibilia in particular. (shrink)
The paper deals with such a modification of genuine modal realism as to accommodate impossible worlds into its ontology. First of all, the theory of modal realism is presented. Next, several motivations for the acceptance of impossible worlds are adduced. Furthermore, Lewis’s argument against impossible worlds is denied. Then, it is argued that the same methodology as in the case of possible worlds can be used when impossibilia are at issue. Finally, the theory of extended modal realism is formulated.
In this paper, I defend modal dimensionalism against the objection that it is ontologically and ideologically heavy. First, I briefly outline the theory and the objection against it. The objection relies on the widely accepted view that ontological and ideological parsimony are operational criteria when comparing metaphysical theories. Second, I outline the conventional distinction between ontology and ideology in the metaphysical tradition. Third, I challenge a particular kind of parsimony: reduction by identification. Fourth, even if reduction by identification is accepted, (...) I show that theories that pursue this often minimize differences, and that such minimization paves the way to epistemic underdetermination. Finally, I demonstrate that some theories in modal metaphysics also suffer from difference minimization and should thus not be measured on the ontology/ideology scale. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to discuss the ersatz theory of Lewis’s impossible worlds, point out its undeniable benefits and demonstrate its costs. Firstly, I present two approaches to Lewis’s impossible worlds taken as constructions out of possibilia. Secondly, I evaluate the proposals using the Lewisian criteria of success concerning the well defined conception of analysis. Although appealing, I do not find the proposals fully persuasive. Thirdly, I discuss the objection from an ad hoc distinction between possible and impossible (...) worlds. I conclude that the objection does not present a special problem for the Lewisian theory. Finally, I motivate a theory of extended modal realism, to wit, modal realism enriched with concrete impossibilia. (shrink)
Theories of possible worlds abound. Since the introduction of modal logic, the term of a possible world, and the very nature of an entity denoted by the term, have stood on the top of metaphysical inquiries. A possible world, roughly speaking, is a complete way things could have been. On the face of it, whatever is possible takes place in some possible world, and whatever is not possible, does not. The aim of the present book is to argue that even (...) impossible things happen. By taking David Lewis’s Modal Realism (henceforth as “MR”) seriously, I claim that besides infinitely many concrete ways things could have been, there exist ways things could not have been. I call them concrete impossible worlds. In Chapter I, I outline Lewis’s well-defined conception of philosophical analysis. I present its structure, aims, methodology and criteria for success. Besides the virtues of the Lewisian conception, I point out several limitations the theory has and offer very simple solution: the admission of concrete impossible worlds. In Chapter II, I present a version of an epistemological objection against MR and a positive account in favour of Modal Fictionalism (henceforth as “MF”). I then present the puzzle in this matter and attempt to generalise my point. 9 Introduction Chapter III demonstrates how flexible Lewis’s theory is. I consider a putative impossibility of there being island universes – spatiotemporally disjoint spacetimes – and show what a proponent of modal realism can do in order to account for it. I present three possible moves: a revision of our pre-theoretical opinions, a modification of our definitions and, finally, an ex- tension of our metaphysical commitments. I consider two ersatz theories of impossible worlds in Chapter IV. In particular, I scrutinize Franz Berto’s and Edwin Mares’s (hybrid) theories of MR. Although I admit that the theories radically extend the scope of applications of MR without extending its metaphysical commitments, the approaches do have some limits. Finally, in Chapter V, I present Extended Modal Realism (henceforth EMR), a theory according to which the best way to go in order to account for impossible phenomena is to ex- tend our metaphysical base by genuine impossibilia. I try to (at least) weaken, if not meet, the crucial objections to the proposal. Namely, I challenge the proclaimed universality of classical logic and, subsequently, motivate certain kind of paraconsistent approach to modal reality. Although the consequences are very hard to swallow, I argue that it is because of the fact that we are unsure of our pre-theoretical opinions concerning the impossible. (shrink)
Possible-worlds semantics proved itself as a strong tool in analysing the statements of actuality, possibility, contingency and necessity. But impossible phenomena go beyond the expressive power of the apparatus. The proponents of possible-worlds apparatus thus owe us at least three stories. The first one is the story about ontological nature of possible worlds, the second one is the story about the theoretical role such entities play and the third one is the story about the impossible. Modal Realism (MR) provides us (...) with a positive story regarding the first and the second, but denies impossible worlds. Extended Modal Realism (EMR) adds a positive story about the third point too. This book is an attempt to paraphrase extended modal realism in different metaphysical frameworks. In Chapter I, I outline the theory of modal realism, its systematic account of modality and its ontological commitments. I also motivate an impossible-worlds discourse as well as a systematic appeal of extending the picture beyond the possible. I then propose several definitions of the concept of ‘impossible world’ (or impossible possible world). Finally, I discuss a particular metaphysics behind the concept - extended modal realism. Chapter II considers the epistemological worry associated with (MR) and (EMR) and concludes that although the worry is justified, there can be epistemological justification of the theory. Next, I outline the so-called indispensability argument for the legitimacy of mathematical Platonism. Finally, I argue that the argument, if accepted, can be applied to metaphysics in general, to the existence of concrete possibilia (and impossibilia) in particular. Chapter III focuses on the analysis of (EMR). To be more precise, I present a so-called advanced modalizing problem which seems to be infecting every genuinely realistic theory of modality. In this chapter, I propose a way of treating extraordinary modal claims by means of plurality of logical spaces. The next three chapters provide different ways of understanding (EMR). Namely, Chapter IV develops and defends Extended Modal Dimensionalism (EMD). (EMD) is realism about spaces, times and worlds—metaphysical indices that make objects spatial, temporal and modal, respectively. Metaphysical indices play the role of alethic relativisers, i.e. items to which matters of truth are relativized. The chapter examines several arguments against modal dimensionalism and shows that it offers a feasible way to understand (EMR). Chapter V offers a structural approach to possible and impossible worlds: Extended Modal Structuralism (EMS). In particular, I consider whether it makes sense to think of logical models in isolation from the concrete world but without their being divorced from all spatiotemporal totalities. The metaphysics of structure developed in this chapter assumes that structural properties of possible and impossible worlds are primitive and objective. However, I provide some characterisations of their logical and metaphysical behaviour, as well as guidelines for talking about them. Finally, Chapter VI proposes yet another metaphysical framework of hybrid modal realism. I present theories of (MR), (EMR) and modal fictionalism respectively, their advantages and drawbacks. Finally, I propose a so-called hybrid view. Roughly, the view is that one might be a modal realist when it comes to possibilia, but turn into fictionalism regarding impossibilia. The approach is dubbed Extended Modal Fictionalism (EMF) a version of fictionalism according to which claims made within a certain discourse are better to be understood as a sort of ‘fiction’, rather than as a literal truth. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an analysis of modality by means of the existence of concrete impossible worlds. In particular, I pursue a strategy according to which logical impossibility is analyzed as logical inaccessibility. I then consider whether it makes sense to think of logical models in isolation from the concrete world but without their being divorced from all spatiotemporal totalities. The metaphysics of structure developed in this paper assumes that structural properties of possible and impossible worlds (...) are primitive and objective. However, I provide some characterizations of their logical and metaphysical behavior, as well as guidelines for talking about them. (shrink)
The paper defends the so-called extended modal realism, a theory according to which there are concrete impossible worlds. Firstly, modal realism is presented. Next, the way of how its ontology enriched by impossible worlds should look like in order to save its main theoretical virtues is pursued. Finally, I argue for a claim that metaphysical impossibility equals to dissimilarity between worlds instantiating distinct metaphysical structures.