A powerful challenge to some highly influential theories, this book offers a thorough critical exposition of modalrealism, the philosophical doctrine that many possible worlds exist of which our own universe is just one. Chihara challenges this claim and offers a new argument for modality without worlds.
In this paper, I formulate, elucidate, and defend a version of modalrealism with overlap, the view that objects are literally present at more than one possible world. The version that I defend has several interesting features: it is committed to an ontological distinction between regions of spacetime and material objects; it is committed to compositional pluralism, which is the doctrine that there is more than one fundamental part-whole relation; and it is the modal analogue of endurantism, (...) which is the doctrine that objects persist through time by being wholly present at each moment they are located. (shrink)
Kriegel described the problem of intentional inexistence as one of the ‘perennial problems of philosophy’, 307–340, 2007: 307). In the same paper, Kriegel alluded to a modal realist solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. However, Kriegel does not state by name who defends the kind of modal realist solution he has in mind. Kriegel also points out that even what he believes to be the strongest version of modalrealism does not pass the ‘principle of (...) representation’ and thus modalrealism is not an adequate solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. In this paper, I respond to Kriegel by defending a modal realist solution that he did not consider in 2007, called ‘extended modalrealism’. EMR is a version of modalrealism where possible worlds are not completely isolated as they are under the Lewisian model. Rather, under EMR worlds are, in a way, spatiotemporally related. The fact EMR worlds are related allows EMR to sufficiently pass the principle of representation and thus can be deemed a legitimate solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. I conclude that either EMR can pass the principle of representation in some cases or, and I think the more sensible option, we give up on the principle of representation altogether. (shrink)
We argue that genuine modalrealism can be extended, rather than modified, so as to allow for the possibility of nothing concrete, a possibility we term ‘metaphysical nihilism’. The issue should be important to the genuine modal realist because, not only is metaphysical nihilism itself intuitively plausible, but also it is supported by an argument with pre-theoretically credible premises, namely, the subtraction argument. Given the soundness of the subtraction argument, we show that there are two ways that (...) the genuine modal realist can accommodate metaphysical nihilism: (i) by allowing for worlds containing only spatiotemporal points and (ii) by allowing for a world containing nothing but the null individual. On methodological grounds, we argue that the genuine modal realist should reject the former way but embrace the latter way. (shrink)
In his metaphysical summa of 1986, The Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis famously defends a doctrine he calls ‘modalrealism’, the idea that to account for the fact that some things are possible and some things are necessary we must postulate an infinity possible worlds, concrete entities like our own universe, but cut off from us in space and time. Possible worlds are required to account for the facts of modality without assuming that modality is primitive – that (...) there are irreducibly modal facts. We argue that on one reading, Lewis’s theory licenses us to assume maverick possible worlds which spread through logical space gobbling up all the rest. Because they exclude alternatives, these worlds result in contradictions, since different spread worlds are incompatible with one another. Plainly Lewis’s theory must be amended to exclude these excluders. But, we maintain, this cannot be done without bringing in modal primitives. And once we admit modal primitives, bang goes the rationale for Lewis’s modalrealism. (shrink)
It is a commonsense thesis that unactualized possibilities are not parts of actuality. To keep his modalrealism in line with this thesis, David Lewis employed his indexical account of the term “actual.” I argue that the addition of counterpart theory to Lewis’s modalrealism undermines his strategy for respecting the commonsense thesis. The case made here also reveals a problem for Lewis’s attempt to avoid haecceitism.
The main aim in the forthcoming discussion is to contrast theistic modalrealism and theistic actualist realism. Actualist realism is the dominant view among theists and presents the most serious challenge to theistic modalrealism. I discuss various prominent forms of theistic actualist realism. I offer reasons for rejecting the view of metaphysical reality that actualist realism affords. I discuss theistic modalrealism and show that the traditional conception of God (...) is perfectly consistent with the metaphysics of genuine modalrealism. Indeed theistic modalrealism is more suited to traditional theism than is any version of actualist realism. (shrink)
In Sections 1–7, I provide a detailed description of some of the advantages of theistic modalrealism. The aim is to show specifically how theistic modalrealism solves many of the intractable problems of philosophical theology. A detailed description of all of the advantages would require a much longer treatment. The aim is to give a good sense of the theoretical benefits that theistic modalrealism affords traditional theists. I offer some concluding remarks in (...) Section 8. (shrink)
This book defends a radical new theory of contingency as a physical phenomenon. Drawing on the many-worlds approach to quantum theory and cutting-edge metaphysics and philosophy of science, it argues that quantum theories are best understood as telling us about the space of genuine possibilities, rather than as telling us solely about actuality. When quantum physics is taken seriously in the way first proposed by Hugh Everett III, it provides the resources for a new systematic metaphysical framework encompassing possibility, necessity, (...) actuality, chance, counterfactuals, and a host of related modal notions. -/- Rationalist metaphysicians argue that the metaphysics of modality is strictly prior to any scientific investigation; metaphysics establishes which worlds are possible, and physics merely checks which of these worlds is actual. Naturalistic metaphysicians respond that science may discover new possibilities and new impossibilities. This book's quantum theory of contingency takes naturalistic metaphysics one step further, allowing that science may discover what it is to be possible. As electromagnetism revealed the nature of light, as acoustics revealed the nature of sound, as statistical mechanics revealed the nature of heat, so quantum physics reveals the nature of contingency. (shrink)
The paper argues that Lewis’ Genuine ModalRealism, in taking the plurality of worlds to be necessarily the way it is, implies the existence of necessary connections of the sort that contradicts the Humean thesis that Lewis endorses. By endorsing, pace Divers, a non-redundancy interpretation of advanced modalizing, we gain the means to exactly state what these connections amount to.
Charles Chihara gives a thorough critical exposition of modalrealism, the philosophical doctrine that there exist many possible worlds of which the actual world--the universe in which we live--is just one. The striking success of possible-worlds semantics in modal logic has made this ontological doctrine attractive. Modal realists maintain that philosophers must accept the existence of possible worlds if they wish to have the benefit of using possible-worlds semantics to assess modal arguments and explain (...) class='Hi'>modal principles. Chihara challenges this claim, and argues instead for modality without worlds; he offers a new account of the role of interpretations or structures of the formal languages of logic. (shrink)
Charles Chihara gives a thorough critical exposition of modalrealism, the philosophical doctrine that there exist many possible worlds of which the actual world--the universe in which we live--is just one. The striking success of possible-worlds semantics in modal logic has made thisontological doctrine attractive. Modal realists maintain that philosophers must accept the existence of possible worlds if they wish to have the benefit of using possible-worlds semantics to assess modal arguments and explain modal (...) principles. Chihara challenges this claim, and argues instead formodality without worlds; he offers a new account of the role of interpretations or structures of the formal languages of logic. (shrink)
When I profess realism about possible worlds, I mean to be taken literally. Possible worlds are what they are, and not some other thing. If asked what sort of thing they are, I cannot give the kind of reply my questioner probably expects: that is, a proposal to reduce possible worlds to something else. I can only ask him to admit that he knows what sort of thing our actual world is, and then explain that possible worlds are more (...) things of that sort, differing not in kind but only in what goes on at them. (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 ModalRealism (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 modalrealism 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 ModalRealism (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)
In this paper I argue that ModalRealism, the thesis that there exist non-actual possible individuals and worlds, can be made compatible with Metaphysical Nihilism, the thesis that it is possible that nothing concrete exists. ModalRealism as developed by Lewis rules out the possibility of a world where nothing concrete exists and so conflicts with Metaphysical Nihilism. In the paper I argue that ModalRealism can be modified so as to be compatible with (...) Metaphysical Nihilism. Such a modification makes ModalRealism neither incur further theoretical costs nor lose its theoretical benefits. Thus such a modification constitutes an improvement of ModalRealism. (shrink)
A major criticism of David Lewis’ counterfactual theory of causation is that it allows too many things to count as causes, especially since Lewis allows, in addition to events, absences to be causes as well. Peter Menzies has advanced this concern under the title “the problem of profligate causation.” In this paper, I argue that the problem of profligate causation provides resources for exposing a tension between Lewis’ acceptance of absence causation and his modalrealism. The result is (...) a different problem of profligate causation—one that attacks the internal consistency of Lewisian metaphysics rather than employing common sense judgments or intuitions that conflict with Lewis’ extensive list of causes. (shrink)
In his book Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise (2010), Takashi Yagisawa presents and argues for a novel and imaginative version of modalrealism. It differs both from Lewis’s modalrealism (Lewis 1986) and from actualists’ ersatz accounts (Adams 1974; Sider 2002). In this paper, I’ll present two arguments, each of which shows that Yagisawa’s metaphysics is incoherent. The first argument shows that the combination of Yagisawa’s metaphysics with impossibilia leads to triviality: every sentence whatsoever comes (...) out true. This is so even if Yagisawa accepts a paraconsistent notion of logical consequence, on which contradictions do not entail arbitrary conclusions. The second argument is independent of Yagisawa’s acceptance of impossibilia. It shows that Yagisawa’s metaphysics of possible worlds is incoherent. Using ordinary modal reasoning, I derive a contradiction from Yagisawa’s account of possible worlds. (shrink)
In this article, I defend Lewisian modalrealism against objections arising from the possibility of ‘Island Universes’ and other similar cases. The problem comes from Lewis’ claim that possible worlds are spatio-temporally isolated. I suggest a modification of Lewisian modalrealism 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)
Here I first raise an argument purporting to show that Lewis’ ModalRealism ends up being entirely trivial. But although I reject this line, the argument reveals how difficult it is to interpret Lewis’ thesis that possibilia “exist.” Five natural interpretations are considered, yet upon reflection, none appear entirely adequate. On the three different “concretist” interpretations of ‘exist’, ModalRealism looks insufficient for genuine ontological commitment. Whereas, on the “multiverse” interpretation, ModalRealism acknowledges physical (...) possibilities only--and worse, (assuming either axiom S5 or axiom B) each possibilium ends up as a necessary physical existent. Finally, on the “broadly Actualist” of ‘exist’, ModalRealism is either inconsistent or it mistakenly identifies the unrestricted quantifier with the unrestricted Actualist quantifier. The upshot is that it remains obscure in what non-trivial sense Lewisian possibilia “exist.”. (shrink)
In this reply, we defend our argument for the incompleteness of Genuine ModalRealism against Paseau's criticisms. Paseau claims that isomorphic set of worlds represent the same possibilities, but not only is this implausible, it is inimical to the target of our paper: Lewis's theory of possible worlds. We argue that neither Paseau's model-theoretic results nor his comparison to arithmetic carry over to GMR. We end by distinguishing two notions of incompleteness and urge that, for all that Paseau (...) has said, GMR remains incomplete in the relevant sense. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the putative incompatibility of three theses: (1) Haecceitism, according to which some maximal possibilities differ solely in terms of the non-qualitative or de re possibilities they include; (2) Modal correspondence, according to which each maximal possibility is identical with a unique possible world; (3) Counterpart theory, according to which de re modality is analyzed in terms of counterpart relations between individuals. After showing how the modalrealism defended by David Lewis resolves this (...) incompatibility by rejecting modal correspondence, I defend modal correspondence and develop an alternative strategy for reconciling these theses. Specifically, I examine Lewis’s arguments against non-qualitative counterpart theory and undermine them by developing a novel version of non-qualitative counterpart theory that appeals to a metaphysics of bare particulars. I then indicate how this version of non-qualitative counterpart theory accommodates both haecceitism and modal correspondence. (shrink)
The standard conception of God is that of a necessary being. On a possible worlds semantics, this entails that God exists at every possible world. According to the modal realist account of David Lewis, possible worlds are understood to be real, concrete worlds—no different in kind from the actual world. Some have argued that Lewis’s view is incompatible with classical theism (e.g., Sheehy, 2006). More recently, Ross Cameron (2009) has defended the thesis that Lewisian modalrealism and (...) classical theism are in fact compatible. I argue that this is not the case. Modalrealism, I argue, is equipped to accommodate necessary beings in only one of three ways: (1) By way of counterpart theory, or (2) by way of a special case of trans-world identity for causally inert necessary beings (e.g., pure sets), or else (3) causally potent ones which lack accidental intrinsic properties. However, each of these three options entails unacceptable consequences—(1) and (2) are incompatible with theism, and (3) is incompatible with modalrealism. I conclude that (at least) one of these views is false. (shrink)
Modal realists face a puzzle. For modalrealism to be justified, modal realists need to be able to give a successful reduction of modality. A simple argument, however, appears to show that the reduction they propose fails. In order to defend the claim that modalrealism is justified, modal realists therefore need to either show that this argument fails, or show that modal realists can give another reduction of modality that is successful. (...) I argue that modal realists cannot do either of these things and that, as a result, modalrealism is unjustified and should be rejected. (shrink)
This thesis argues that we should consider extended modalrealism as a new player in the debate about non-existence. The primary aim is to show that extended modalrealism is a viable theory when it comes to solving problems of non-existence. At times I will argue that extended modalrealism has advantages over Lewisian modalrealism when it comes to examining the problems of non-existence, not only in the case of problems relating (...) to thought but also problems concerning truth as well. However, I do not intend for the proposed advantages of extended modalrealism to be presented as knockdown arguments against other strategies. -/- Not only do I argue that extended modalrealism is viable when it comes to solving these problems, but I also make adjustments and additions to the theory that supports the conclusion of this thesis, and I argue that these are improvements to the modal realist theory. I include arguments for a new theory of existence that removes the need for the extended modal realist to rely on set-theoretic notations to understand existence, which I consider problematic. I argue for the revival of the Lewis-Rosen proposal for truth-making and a semantic instrumentalist theory of thought, both of which naturally accompany extended modalrealism. Throughout this thesis, I will comment on the proposals and strategies of other authors, and some of these comments will be critical. At this very early stage, I want to clarify that this thesis's success does not rest on showing that all other competitor theories fail. I only include critical comments to situate extended modalrealism within the landscape of viable positions that are available for one to occupy. (shrink)
The paper outlines and immediately discusses the so-called ‘soft’ impossibility, i.e., non-logical impossibility generated by modalrealism. It will be shown that although in a particular case genuine modalrealism, 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 modalrealism 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)
Modal realists should fashion their theory by postulating\nand taking seriously the modal equivalent of tense, or\n_modal tense_. This will give them a uniform way to\nrespond to five different objections, one each by Skyrms,\nQuine, and Peacocke, and two by van Inwagen, and suggest a\nnon-Lewisian path to modalrealism.
Some philosophers worry that if modalrealism is true, you have no reason to prevent evils. For if you prevent an evil, you’ll have a counterpart somewhere that allows a similar evil. And if you refrain, your counterpart will end up preventing the relevant evil. Either way one evil is prevented and one is allowed. Your act makes no difference. I argue that this is mistaken. If modalrealism is true, you are in a variant of (...) Newcomb’s Problem. And if Lewis’ view about Newcomb’s Problem is true, then your act does make a difference and you should prevent the evil. (shrink)
Conceivability is, I say, prima facie evidence for possibility. Hence, we may count the cost of theories about possibility by listing the ways in which, according to the theory in question, something conceivable is said nonetheless to be impossible. More succinctly we may state a principle, Hume's razor to put alongside Ockham's. Hume's razor says that necessities are not to be multiplied more than necessary. In this paper I count the cost of David Lewis's modalrealism, showing that (...) many of the objections are replied to by Lewis only at the cost of multiplying necessities. (shrink)
It is difficult to wander far in contemporary metaphysics without bumping into talk of possible worlds. And reference to possible worlds is not confined to metaphysics. It can be found in contemporary epistemology and ethics, and has even made its way into linguistics and decision theory. What are those possible worlds, the entities to which theorists in these disciplines all appeal? This paper sets out and evaluates a leading contemporary theory of possible worlds, David Lewis's ModalRealism. I (...) note two competing ambitions for a theory of possible worlds: that it be reductive and user-friendly. I then outline ModalRealism and consider objections to the effect that it cannot satisfy these ambitions. I conclude that there is some reason to believe that ModalRealism is not reductive and overwhelming reason to believe that it is not user-friendly. (shrink)
This paper investigates the form a modal realist analysis of possibility and necessity should take. It concludes that according to the best version of modalrealism, the notion of a world plays no role in the analysis of modal claims. All contingent claims contain some de re element; the effect of modal operators on these elements is described by a counterpart theory which takes the same form whether the de re reference is to a world (...) or to something else. This fully general counterpart theory can validate orthodox modal logic, including the logic of 'actually'. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between the classical theistic conception of God and modalrealism. I suggest that realism about possible worlds has unwelcome consequences for that conception. First, that modalrealism entails the necessity of divine existence eludes explanation in a way congenial to a commitment to both modalrealism and classical theism. Second, divine knowledge is dependent on worlds independent of the creative role and action of God, thereby suggesting a limitation (...) on the nature of divine knowledge and on the nature of God's creative role. Third, modalrealism indicates the existence of real, albeit non-actual, worlds of appalling evil threatening the classical conception of divine omnipotence and benevolence. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
Jim Stone has argued that a multiversal version of ModalRealism together with Counterpart Theory cannot account for a certain intuitive possibility. Roughly, it is the possibility that all free moral choices of a certain sort are the right choices in all cases in the multiverse. The present work offers an explanation of how the metaphysics in question can account for the intuitive possibility in question.
In this paper we examine Lewis's attempts to provide an epistemology of modality and we argue that he fails to provide an account that properly weds his metaphysics with an epistemology that explains the knowledge of modality that both he and his critics grant. We argue that neither the appeals to acceptable paraphrases of ordinary modal discourse nor parallels with Platonistic theories of mathematics suffice. We conclude that no proper epistemology for modalrealism has been provided and (...) that one is needed. (shrink)
If David Lewis's modalrealism is true, then there are many, many people. According to Mark Heller, this is bad news. He takes modalrealism (MR) to imply that "there are at least some cases in which it is permissible to let drowning children drown when it would be easy to save them." But since he holds the reasonable view that this is never permissible, he thinks that MR is false. Here, I argue that Lewis needn't (...) be troubled by this objection, and that it provides no reason to reject MR for those who share Lewis's moral outlook. Moreover, I argue that disagreement with common sense needn't be severe if we can show both (a) that there's a sense in which common sense is correct and (b) we have little reason to care about the sense in which common sense is mistaken. (shrink)
What are the requirements on an adequate genuine modal realist analysis of modal discourse? One is material adequacy: the modal realist must provide for each candidate analysandum an analysans in the language of counterpart theory which by his lights has the same truth value as the candidate analysandum. Must the material biconditional joining these be necessarily true? This is the requirement of strict adequacy. It is not satisfied if Lewis’s 1968 scheme provides the analysis. John Divers puts (...) forward a modification, which identifies cases of ‘advanced modalizing’ in which the modal operator is semantically redundant. Even with this modification modal realist analyses of statements of modal discourse will be strictly inadequate. Strict adequacy can be achieved by extending the redundancy interpretation to all de dicto modal statements. The price is the denial of de dicto contingency. But perhaps material adequacy is enough. If the modal realist has a systematic means of replacing every sentence of quantified modal logic which he considers true by a sentence of counterpart theory that he considers true, perhaps he need do no more. Still, traditionally philosophical analysis aims at strict adequacy so it is as well to know that this is a test the modal realist analysis fails unless he abandons de dicto contingency. (shrink)
I find a lost wallet containing the owner's address and a lot of cash. Shall I keep it or return it? Suppose I have the ‘liberty of indifference’: whatever I do, I could have done otherwise. Indeed, part of what is meant in saying I act freely is that either way what I do is up to me. And let's allow this liberty requires that my choice is not a logical consequence of the past and natural laws. If I return (...) the wallet, I could have kept it without violating a law of nature or changing the past. Let's call this ‘situation S’ . Suppose I return the wallet.Others are also in S: free people find lost wallets every day. Each of us can freely return the wallet we find. It doesn’t follow immediately that we can all return it, however. That each ticket holder can win the lottery doesn’t entail they can all win it. We need the additional premiss that no number of people freely returning the wallet prevents the remainder from freely returning it. In short: each of us in S can freely return the wallet. Further, no number of us doing so prevents the remainder from doing so. Therefore it's possible that we all freely do what I do.According to ModalRealism , other possible worlds are concrete realities and the people in them as real as you and me. Some of these people are in S. Each of them can freely return the wallet; none of them is prevented from exercising that ability by others doing so, including others in worlds causally isolated from theirs. For instance, our doings in the actual world no more limit their abilities than …. (shrink)
David Lewis’s genuine modalrealism is a controversial thesis in modal metaphysics. Charles Chihara and Ross Cameron have each argued that Lewis’s defence of his thesis involves his committing serious methodological errors; in particular, that his replies to two well-known and important objections are question-begging. Scott Shalkowski has further argued that Lewis’s attempt to analyse modal talk in non-modal terms is viciously circular. This paper considers the methodology which Lewis uses to argue for his thesis, (...) and the paper tries to show that it is guilty of no methodological errors. (shrink)
An intuitive objection to modalrealism is that merely possible worlds and their inhabitants seem to be irrelevant to an analysis of modality. Kripke originally phrased the objection in terms of being concerned about one’s modal properties without being concerned about the properties one’s other-worldly counterparts have. The author assesses this objection in a variety of forms, and then provides his own formulation that does not beg the question against the modal realist. Finally, the author considers (...) two potential answers to the objection so understood and concludes that only one of them has a chance of succeeding. (shrink)