Impossibility and Impossible Worlds

In Otávio Bueno & Scott A. Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. New York: Routledge. pp. 40-48 (2018)
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Possible worlds have found many applications in contemporary philosophy: from theories of possibility and necessity, to accounts of conditionals, to theories of mental and linguistic content, to understanding supervenience relationships, to theories of properties and propositions, among many other applications. Almost as soon as possible worlds started to be used in formal theories in logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and elsewhere, theorists started to wonder whether impossible worlds should be postulated as well. In many applications, possible worlds face limitations that can be dealt with through postulating impossible worlds as well. This chapter examines some of the uses of impossible worlds, and philosophical challenges theories of impossible worlds face.

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Daniel Nolan
University of Notre Dame


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