Impossible Worlds

Edited by Barak Krakauer (University of California, Santa Cruz)
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  1. added 2018-05-09
    Constitutive Moral Luck and Strawson's Argument for the Impossibility of Moral Responsibility.Robert J. Hartman - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (2):165-183.
    Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument is that because self-creation is required to be truly morally responsible and self-creation is impossible, it is impossible to be truly morally responsible for anything. I contend that the Basic Argument is unpersuasive and unsound. First, I argue that the moral luck debate shows that the self-creation requirement appears to be contradicted and supported by various parts of our commonsense ideas about moral responsibility, and that this ambivalence undermines the only reason that Strawson gives for the (...)
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  2. added 2018-03-21
    Truth in Fiction, Impossible Worlds, and Belief Revision.Christopher Badura & Francesco Berto - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    We present a theory of truth in fiction that improves on Lewis's [1978] ‘Analysis 2’ in two ways. First, we expand Lewis's possible worlds apparatus by adding non-normal or impossible worlds. Second, we model truth in fiction as belief revision via ideas from dynamic epistemic logic. We explain the major objections raised against Lewis's original view and show that our theory overcomes them.
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  3. added 2018-03-21
    Williamson on Counterpossibles.Berto Francesco, David Ripley, Graham Priest & Rohan French - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (4):693-713.
    A counterpossible conditional is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Common sense delivers the view that some such conditionals are true, and some are false. In recent publications, Timothy Williamson has defended the view that all are true. In this paper we defend the common sense view against Williamson’s objections.
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  4. added 2018-02-17
    On Conceiving the Inconsistent.Francesco Berto - 2014 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114 (1pt1):103-121.
    I present an approach to our conceiving absolute impossibilities—things which obtain at no possible world—in terms of ceteris paribus intentional operators: variably restricted quantifiers on possible and impossible worlds based on world similarity. The explicit content of a representation plays a role similar in some respects to the one of a ceteris paribus conditional antecedent. I discuss how such operators invalidate logical closure for conceivability, and how similarity works when impossible worlds are around. Unlike what happens with ceteris paribus counterfactual (...)
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  5. added 2018-02-04
    Logically Impossible Worlds.Koji Tanaka - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Logic 15 (2):489.
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  6. added 2017-11-13
    Content, the Possible and the Impossible.Felappi Giulia - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):648-658.
    What are contents? The answer provided by the possible worlds approach is that contents are sets of possible worlds. This approach incurs serious problems and to solve them Jago suggests, in The Impossible, to get rid of the ‘possible’ bit and allowing some impossible worlds to be part of the game. In this note, I briefly consider the metaphysics behind Jago’s account and then focus on whether Jago is right in thinking that his worlds and his worlds only can do (...)
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  7. added 2017-03-28
    Impossibility and Impossible Worlds.Daniel Nolan - forthcoming - In Otavio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. New York, USA: Routledge Press.
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  8. added 2017-01-31
    Impossible Worlds and the Logic of Imagination.Francesco Berto - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (6):1277-1297.
    I want to model a finite, fallible cognitive agent who imagines that p in the sense of mentally representing a scenario—a configuration of objects and properties—correctly described by p. I propose to capture imagination, so understood, via variably strict world quantifiers, in a modal framework including both possible and so-called impossible worlds. The latter secure lack of classical logical closure for the relevant mental states, while the variability of strictness captures how the agent imports information from actuality in the imagined (...)
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  9. added 2017-01-16
    Thinking the Impossible.Graham Priest - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2649-2662.
    The article looks at the structure of impossible worlds, and their deployment in the analysis of some intentional notions. In particular, it is argued that one can, in fact, conceive anything, whether or not it is impossible. Thus a semantics of conceivability requires impossible worlds.
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  10. added 2016-10-06
    Chance and Necessity.Daniel Nolan - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):294-308.
    A principle endorsed by many theories of objective chance, and practically forced on us by the standard interpretation of the Kolmogorov semantics for chance, is the principle that when a proposition P has a chance, any proposition Q that is necessarily equivalent to P will have the same chance as P. Call this principle SUB (for the substitution of necessary equivalents into chance ascriptions). I will present some problems for a theory of chance, and will argue that the best way (...)
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  11. added 2016-04-20
    Between the Actual and the Trivial World.Maciej Sendłak - 2016 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 23 (2):162-176.
    The subject of this paper is the notion of similarity between the actual and impossible worlds. Many believe that this notion is governed by two rules. Ac-cording to the first rule, every non-trivial world is more similar to the actual world than the trivial world is. The second rule states that every possible world is more similar to the actual world than any impossible world is. The aim of this paper is to challenge both of these rules. We argue that (...)
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  12. added 2016-04-08
    Counterpossibles and Similarities.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.
    Several themes of David Lewis's theory of counterfactuals, especially their sensitivity to context, pave the way for a viable theory of non-trivial counterpossibles. If Lewis was successful in defending his account against the early objections, a semantics of counterpossibles can be defended from similar objections in the same way. The resulting theory will be extended to address 'might' counterfactuals and questions about the relative "nearness" of impossible worlds.
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  13. added 2016-04-03
    Interview with Francesco Berto.Luca Moretti - 2016 - The Reasoner 10 (5):36-38.
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  14. added 2016-03-04
    Granularity Problems.Jens Christian Bjerring & Wolfgang Schwarz - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266):22-37.
    Possible-worlds accounts of mental or linguistic content are often criticized for being too coarse-grained. To make room for more fine-grained distinctions among contents, several authors have recently proposed extending the space of possible worlds by "impossible worlds". We argue that this strategy comes with serious costs: we would effectively have to abandon most of the features that make the possible-worlds framework attractive. More generally, we argue that while there are intuitive and theoretical considerations against overly coarse-grained notions of content, the (...)
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  15. added 2016-02-26
    On Modal Meinongianism.Thibaut Giraud - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    Modal Meinongianism is a form of Meinongianism whose main supporters are Graham Priest and Francesco Berto. The main idea of modal Meinongianism is to restrict the logical deviance of Meinongian non-existent objects to impossible worlds and thus prevent it from “contaminating” the actual world: the round square is round and not round, but not in the actual world, only in an impossible world. In the actual world, supposedly, no contradiction is true. I will show that Priest’s semantics, as originally formulated (...)
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  16. added 2015-12-10
    Causal Counterfactuals and Impossible Worlds.Daniel Nolan - 2017 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 14-32.
    A standing challenge in the theory of counterfactuals is to solve the “deviation problem”. Consider ordinary counterfactuals involving an antecedent concerning a difference from the actual course of events at a particular time, and a consequent concerning, at least in part, what happens at a later time. In the possible worlds framework, the problem is often put in terms of which are the relevant antecedent worlds. Desiderata for the solution include that the relevant antecedent worlds be governed by the actual (...)
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  17. added 2015-10-18
    Conditionals and Curry.Daniel Nolan - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2629-2647.
    Curry's paradox for "if.. then.." concerns the paradoxical features of sentences of the form "If this very sentence is true, then 2+2=5". Standard inference principles lead us to the conclusion that such conditionals have true consequents: so, for example, 2+2=5 after all. There has been a lot of technical work done on formal options for blocking Curry paradoxes while only compromising a little on the various central principles of logic and meaning that are under threat. -/- Once we have a (...)
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  18. added 2015-09-18
    It's Not Too Difficult: A Plea to Resurrect the Impossibility Defense.Ken Levy - 2014 - New Mexico Law Revview 45:225-274.
    Suppose you are at the gym trying to see some naked beauties by peeping through a hole in the wall. A policeman happens by, he asks you what you are doing, and you honestly tell him. He then arrests you for voyeurism. Are you guilty? We don’t know yet because there is one more fact to be considered: while you honestly thought that a locker room was on the other side of the wall, it was actually a squash court. Are (...)
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  19. added 2015-05-19
    Seeing the Impossible.Andreas Elpidorou - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (1):11-21.
    I defend the view that it is not impossible to see the impossible. I provide two examples in which one sees the impossible and defend these examples from potential objections. Theories of depiction should make room for impossible depictions.
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  20. added 2015-04-05
    Impossible Worlds.David Vander Laan - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    The theory of possible worlds has permeated analytic philosophy in recent decades, and its best versions have a consequence which has gone largely unnoticed: in addition to the panoply of possible worlds, there are a great many impossible worlds. A uniform ontological method alone should bring the friends of possible worlds to adopt impossible worlds, I argue, but the theory's applications also provide strong incentives. In particular, the theory facilitates an account of counterfactuals which avoids several of the implausible results (...)
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  21. added 2014-04-13
    Omission Impossible.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2575-2589.
    This paper gives a framework for understanding causal counterpossibles, counterfactuals imbued with causal content whose antecedents appeal to metaphysically impossible worlds. Such statements are generated by omissive causal claims that appeal to metaphysically impossible events, such as “If the mathematician had not failed to prove that 2+2=5, the math textbooks would not have remained intact.” After providing an account of impossible omissions, the paper argues for three claims: (i) impossible omissions play a causal role in the actual world, (ii) causal (...)
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  22. added 2014-04-02
    Impossible Worlds.Mark Jago - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):713-728.
    Impossible worlds are representations of impossible things and impossible happenings. They earn their keep in a semantic or metaphysical theory if they do the right theoretical work for us. As it happens, a worlds-based account provides the best philosophical story about semantic content, knowledge and belief states, cognitive significance and cognitive information, and informative deductive reasoning. A worlds-based story may also provide the best semantics for counterfactuals. But to function well, all these accounts need use of impossible and as well (...)
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  23. added 2014-04-02
    Problems in Epistemic Space.Jens Christian Bjerring - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Logic (1):1-18.
    When a proposition might be the case, for all an agent knows, we can say that the proposition is epistemically possible for the agent. In the standard possible worlds framework, we analyze modal claims using quantification over possible worlds. It is natural to expect that something similar can be done for modal claims involving epistemic possibility. The main aim of this paper is to investigate the prospects of constructing a space of worlds—epistemic space—that allows us to model what is epistemically (...)
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  24. added 2014-03-31
    The Ontology of Impossible Worlds.David A. Vander Laan - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):597-620.
    The best arguments for possible worlds as states of affairs furnish us with equally good arguments for impossible worlds of the same sort. I argue for a theory of impossible worlds on which the impossible worlds correspond to maximal inconsistent classes of propositions. Three objections are rejected. In the final part of the paper, I present a menu of impossible worlds and explore some of their interesting formal properties.
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  25. added 2014-03-09
    On Counterpossibles.Jens Christian Bjerring - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (2):1-27.
    The traditional Lewis–Stalnaker semantics treats all counterfactuals with an impossible antecedent as trivially or vacuously true. Many have regarded this as a serious defect of the semantics. For intuitively, it seems, counterfactuals with impossible antecedents—counterpossibles—can be non-trivially true and non-trivially false. Whereas the counterpossible "If Hobbes had squared the circle, then the mathematical community at the time would have been surprised" seems true, "If Hobbes had squared the circle, then sick children in the mountains of Afghanistan at the time would (...)
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  26. added 2014-03-08
    Existence as a Real Property.Francesco Berto - 2012 - Synthèse Library, Springer.
    This book is both an introduction to and a research work on Meinongianism. “Meinongianism” is taken here, in accordance with the common philosophical jargon, as a general label for a set of theories of existence – probably the most basic notion of ontology. As an introduction, the book provides the first comprehensive survey and guide to Meinongianism and non-standard theories of existence in all their main forms. As a research work, the book exposes and develops the most up-to-date Meinongian theory (...)
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  27. added 2014-03-08
    Impossible Worlds and Propositions: Against the Parity Thesis.Francesco Berto - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):471-486.
    Accounts of propositions as sets of possible worlds have been criticized for conflating distinct impossible propositions. In response to this problem, some have proposed to introduce impossible worlds to represent distinct impossibilities, endorsing the thesis that impossible worlds must be of the same kind; this has been called the parity thesis. I show that this thesis faces problems, and propose a hybrid account which rejects it: possible worlds are taken as concrete Lewisian worlds, and impossibilities are represented as set-theoretic constructions (...)
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  28. added 2014-03-02
    Real Impossible Worlds : The Bounds of Possibility.Ira Georgia Kiourti - 2010 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    Lewisian Genuine Realism about possible worlds is often deemed unable to accommodate impossible worlds and reap the benefits that these bestow to rival theories. This thesis explores two alternative extensions of GR into the terrain of impossible worlds. It is divided in six chapters. Chapter I outlines Lewis’ theory, the motivations for impossible worlds, and the central problem that such worlds present for GR: How can GR even understand the notion of an impossible world, given Lewis’ reductive theoretical framework? Since (...)
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  29. added 2014-01-18
    Modal Meinongianism, Russell's Paradox, and the Language/Metalanguage Distinction.Maciej Sendłak - 2013 - Polish Journal of Philosophy (2):63-78.
    The subject of my article is the principle of characterization – the most controversial principle of Meinong’s Theory of Objects. The aim of this text is twofold. First of all, I would like to show that Russell’s well-known objection to Meinong’s Theory of Objects can be reformulated against a new modal interpretation of Meinongianism that is presented mostly by Graham Priest. Secondly, I would like to propose a strategy which gives uncontroversial restriction to the principle of characterization and which allows (...)
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  30. added 2014-01-13
    MODAL REALISM AND PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS: THE CASE OF ISLAND UNIVERSES.Martin Vacek - 2013 - Filozofia 68 (10).
    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 (...)
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  31. added 2014-01-13
    On the Indispensability of (Im)Possibilia.Martin Vacek - 2013 - Humana Mente 6 (25).
    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 (...)
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  32. added 2013-12-05
    Realizm modalny i okresy warunkowe z niemożliwymi poprzednikami [Modal Realism and Counterpossibles].Maciej Sendłak - 2014 - Filozofia Nauki 22 (4).
    To solve the problem of counterpossibles, many philosophers have been arguing that one needs to invoke impossible worlds. This extension of the ontology of modality should save the analysis of counterfactuals from being insensitive to the problem of counterpossibles. Since theories of impossible worlds are extensions of original accounts of modalities, it is worth stressing that proper analyses of counterpossibles should not weaken the latter.In this paper I argue that these theories of impossible wolrds, which are based on D. Lewis' (...)
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  33. added 2013-05-09
    Are Impossible Worlds Trivial?Mark Jago - 2013 - In Vit Puncochar & Petr Svarny (eds.), The Logica Yearbook 2012. College Publications.
    Theories of content are at the centre of philosophical semantics. The most successful general theory of content takes contents to be sets of possible worlds. But such contents are very coarse-grained, for they cannot distinguish between logically equivalent contents. They draw intensional but not hyperintensional distinctions. This is often remedied by including impossible as well as possible worlds in the theory of content. Yet it is often claimed that impossible worlds are metaphysically obscure; and it is sometimes claimed that their (...)
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  34. added 2013-04-11
    Spór o niezaktualizowane możliwości.Maciej Sendłak - 2010 - Filozofia Nauki 18 (1).
    In 1947 Quine wrote one of the most important and influential articles in the twentieth century philosophy - "On What There Is". One of the aims of this article was a critique of Meinong's Theory of Object. The critique was especially focused upon nonactual possibilities, which (according to Meinong) are some kinds of nonexistent objects. In my paper I want to present Neo-Meinongian refutations of Quine's critique. In order to do this I discuss: (i) the main thesis of "On What (...)
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  35. added 2013-01-30
    Against Yagisawa's Modal Realism.Mark Jago - 2013 - Analysis 73 (1):10-17.
    In his book Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise (2010), Takashi Yagisawa presents and argues for a novel and imaginative version of modal realism. It differs both from Lewis’s modal realism (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 (...)
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  36. added 2012-03-18
    Concrete Impossibilia.Martin Vacek - manuscript
    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.
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  37. added 2011-11-06
    Constructing Worlds.Mark Jago - 2012 - Synthese 189 (1):59-74.
    You and I can differ in what we say, or believe, even though the things we say, or believe, are logically equivalent. Discussing what is said, or believed, requires notions of content which are finer-grained than sets of (metaphysically or logically) possible worlds. In this paper, I develop the approach to fine-grained content in terms of a space of possible and impossible worlds. I give a method for constructing ersatz worlds based on theory of substantial facts. I show how this (...)
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  38. added 2011-04-06
    Modal Meinongianism and Fiction: The Best of Three Worlds.Francesco Berto - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (3):313-35.
    We outline a neo-Meinongian framework labeled as Modal Meinongian Metaphysics (MMM) to account for the ontology and semantics of fictional discourse. Several competing accounts of fictional objects are originated by the fact that our talking of them mirrors incoherent intuitions: mainstream theories of fiction privilege some such intuitions, but are forced to account for others via complicated paraphrases of the relevant sentences. An ideal theory should resort to as few paraphrases as possible. In Sect. 1, we make this explicit via (...)
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  39. added 2011-04-02
    Impossible Worlds and Logical Omniscience: An Impossibility Result.Jens Christian Bjerring - 2013 - Synthese 190 (13):2505-2524.
    In this paper, I investigate whether we can use a world-involving framework to model the epistemic states of non-ideal agents. The standard possible-world framework falters in this respect because of a commitment to logical omniscience. A familiar attempt to overcome this problem centers around the use of impossible worlds where the truths of logic can be false. As we shall see, if we admit impossible worlds where “anything goes” in modal space, it is easy to model extremely non-ideal agents that (...)
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  40. added 2011-04-02
    Non-Ideal Epistemic Spaces.Jens Christian Bjerring - 2010 - Dissertation, Australian National University
    In a possible world framework, an agent can be said to know a proposition just in case the proposition is true at all worlds that are epistemically possible for the agent. Roughly, a world is epistemically possible for an agent just in case the world is not ruled out by anything the agent knows. If a proposition is true at some epistemically possible world for an agent, the proposition is epistemically possible for the agent. If a proposition is true at (...)
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