Impossible worlds and partial belief

Synthese 196 (8):3433-3458 (2019)
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Abstract

One response to the problem of logical omniscience in standard possible worlds models of belief is to extend the space of worlds so as to include impossible worlds. It is natural to think that essentially the same strategy can be applied to probabilistic models of partial belief, for which parallel problems also arise. In this paper, I note a difficulty with the inclusion of impossible worlds into probabilistic models. Under weak assumptions about the space of worlds, most of the propositions which can be constructed from possible and impossible worlds are in an important sense inexpressible; leaving the probabilistic model committed to saying that agents in general have at least as many attitudes towards inexpressible propositions as they do towards expressible propositions. If it is reasonable to think that our attitudes are generally expressible, then a model with such commitments looks problematic.

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Edward J. R. Elliott
University of Leeds

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