Metaphysical and Absolute Possibility

Synthese (special issue):1-12 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
It is widely alleged that metaphysical possibility is “absolute” possibility (Kripke [1980], Lewis [1986], Rosen [2006, 16], Stalnaker [2005, 203], Williamson [2016, 460]). Indeed, this is arguably its metaphysical significance. Kripke calls metaphysical necessity “necessity in the highest degree” ([1980, 99]). Williamson calls metaphysical possibility the “maximal objective modality” [2016, 459]. Rosen says that “metaphysical possibility is the [most inclusive] sort of real possibility” ([2006, 16]). And Stalnaker writes, “we can agree with Frank Jackson, David Chalmers, Saul Kripke, David Lewis, and most others who allow themselves to talk about possible worlds at all, that metaphysical necessity is necessity in the widest sense [2003, 203].” What exactly does the thesis that metaphysical possibility is absolute amount to? Is it true? In this article, I argue that, assuming that the thesis is not merely terminological, and lacking in any metaphysical interest, it is an article of faith. I conclude with the suggestion that metaphysical possibility may lack the metaphysical significance that is widely attributed to it.
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First archival date: 2018-12-13
Latest version: 5 (2019-01-25)
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