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8/12/2016 9:02 pm  #1

Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

[People are welcome to vote even if they're not signed up to the reading group. Those who still want to sign up, shoot me a PM and I'll add you to the group email.]

What are possible worlds?


8/12/2016 9:46 pm  #2

Re: Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

With the proviso that I'm agnostic about whether or not Platonic abstracta are best accounted for in terms of divine ideas.

Fighting to the death "the noonday demon" of Acedia.
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It is precisely “values” that are the powerless and threadbare mask of the objectification of beings, an objectification that has become flat and devoid of background. No one dies for mere values.
~Martin Heidegger

8/13/2016 6:35 am  #3

Re: Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

I'm hesitant to vote. I think this is a 'problem' of merging metaphysics and logic. I don't think that modal intuitions would necessarily commit me to the options above, it'd require an investigation into possibility. 

Last edited by Dennis (8/13/2016 11:02 am)


8/13/2016 7:49 am  #4

Re: Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

I think possible worlds, in the sort of parlance you see in modern Analytic philosophy, are primarily a logical model of possibility; since I'm a Humpty-Dumptyist about logical models, this puts me well into the "useful fiction" camp.

Now I do think that possible worlds are a useful model and shorthand for possibilities that really do exist out there in the world, and those possibilities I would ultimately try to ground in Divine ideas; nevertheless, the "possible worlds" themselves I would treat as just a useful way to bundle propositions about different possibilities for the purpose of using them in some logical-semantic framework.


8/13/2016 12:42 pm  #5

Re: Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

Thinking about it a bit more, I think possible worlds could be plausibly grounded as Divine Ideas. If possible worlds talk is something more substantial than a mere logical apparatus, I think they do have to go beyond useful fictions and mental entities. 


8/21/2016 12:07 pm  #6

Re: Poll: What are Possible Worlds?

Some loose thoughts on each of the choices:

Useful fictions: My preferred choice. Notoriously hard to make work.
Mental entities: What are the truthmakers for propositions about mere possibilities on this scheme[1]? If they’re mental entities, then relative to some world without minds, w, there are no mere possibilities.

And surely a world with one more or one less blade of grass is possible relative to w[2].[3]
Platonic abstracta: It seems reasonable to make possible worlds Platonic abstracta if they’re already in an ontology for other reasons. What could those reasons be?
Other worlds, like ours: If possible worlds are other worlds like ours, a lot of traditional problems for theism evaporate.
Divine Ideas: I'm uncertain about putting possible worlds in what Chris Kirk Speaks calls the “Divine Somewhere”[4]. (Seems murky, hard to parse.)

[1]A mere possibility is an unactual possibility.
[2]Or one less atom, or one less subatomic particle.
[3]It’s worth noting that, strictly, putting “mental entities” in God breaches Simplicity. (Besides, if one is going to appeal to Divine Ideas as truthmakers for propositions about mindless worlds' mere possibilities, why not just use those for every world?)
[4]The criticism presupposes Divine Simplicity.

Last edited by John West (8/21/2016 3:56 pm)

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