Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

There is no escape from possible worlds, but they are intangible

    Tomasz Placek (Jagiellonian University)

30 May 2024  |  16:00  |  Seminari de Filosofia UB


This talk is about modalities: possibilities, necessities, and actuality. Its primary concern is modal primitivism, i.e., the view that some modalities are not reducible to non-modal notions. We show that modest modal primitivism, which attempts to analyze modality in terms of a primitive modal notion of compossibility while rejecting possible worlds, is not a defensible position. Having thus accepted possible worlds, we then observe, drawing on a recent result of Landsman (2021) about physically producible 1-random outcome sequences, that possible worlds embody realizations of the so-called intangible objects of mathematics. We then argue that, as a consequence, possible worlds face two problems: the individuation problem and the property assessment problems. We end with a discussion of how modal theorists might avoid these problems. In particular, we investigate whether the static Block Universe has an edge over Growing Block views in addressing these problems.