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Mere PossibilitiesMetaphysical Foundations of Modal Semantics$
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Robert Stalnaker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147123

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147123.001.0001

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On What There Isn’t (But Might Have Been)

On What There Isn’t (But Might Have Been)

(p.1) 1 On What There Isn’t (But Might Have Been)
Mere Possibilities

Robert Stalnaker

Princeton University Press

This chapter begins with some preliminary methodological remarks—about the aim and value of reduction in philosophical analysis, about thinking of the evaluation of philosophical theses in terms of costs and benefits, and about the contrast between realistic and anti-realistic accounts of a philosophical theory. It then discusses what possible worlds are and what the problem is about merely possible individuals. It argues that possible worlds are properties and not representations. It then takes an extended look at some examples of properties that are simpler and easier to think about than possible worlds but that share some of the features of possible worlds, construed as properties. It uses the analogy developed to motivate a metaphysically innocent account of the domains of other possible worlds. It defends a view that is committed to making sense of the contingent existence of individuals and properties, of propositions, and even of possible worlds themselves. The chapter concludes by sketching a problem that an account of this kind faces, a problem that will be addressed in Chapter 2.

Keywords:   reduction, philosophical analysis, possible worlds, properties

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