Chance and the Structure of Modal Space

Mind 127 (507):633-665 (2018)
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Abstract

The sample space of the chance distribution at a given time is a class of possible worlds. Thanks to this connection between chance and modality, one’s views about modal space can have significant consequences in the theory of chance and can be evaluated in part by how plausible these implications are. I apply this methodology to evaluate certain forms of modal contingentism, the thesis that some facts about what is possible are contingent. Any modal contingentist view that meets certain conditions that I specify generates difficulties in the philosophy of chance, including a problem usually associated with Humeanism that is known as ‘the problem of undermining futures’. I consider two well-known versions of modal contingentism that face this difficulty. The first version, proposed by Hugh Chandler and Nathan Salmon, rests on an argument for the claim that many individuals have their modal features contingently. The second version is motivated by the thesis that the existence of a possible world depends on the existence of the contingent individuals inhabiting it, and that many worlds are therefore contingent existents.

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Boris Kment
Princeton University

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