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Possible Worlds: If the Possible Existed, It Would Not Be Possible

2021-03-26 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

51Due教员组今天给各位留学生带来一篇哲学essay代写范文,讨论可能的世界:如果存在,就不可能。莱布尼兹将我们自己的世界描述为“所有可能世界中最好的世界”,而叔本华则将其描述为“所有可能世界中最糟糕的世界”,但即使是模态语义的随意使用,在某种主观上都不是事实。 “最佳”和“最差”的价值。 但是,与我们的世界在本体论上进行比较的这些假设世界是否有意义? 可以说它们确实存在吗? 本文声称它们不会,并与一些对模态虚构主义的常见反对意见作斗争,例如其哲学上的空洞性和理论上的矛盾。

Possible Worlds: If the Possible Existed, It Would Not Be Possible

Our own world has been described by Leibniz as the “best of all possible worlds” and by Schopenhauer as the “worst of all possible worlds”, but even casual use of modal semantics shows that neither of these are the case, for a certain subjective value of “best” and “worst”. But are these hypothetical worlds against which our world is being compared ontologically significant? Can they be said to really exist? This paper will claim that they do not, and combats some of the common objections against modal fictionalism, such as its philosophical hollowness and theoretical inconsistency.

Possible worlds are a theoretical product of modal logic. In this theory, every modal statement (any statement containing modal verbs like ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘should’, etc.) produces a possible world in which this hypothetical statement is true, or not true, separate from the world in which the opposite statement is true. These worlds would not be related to our world in any spatial, temporal, or causal way, and our actual world would be distinct only in a relational sense, in that we exist within it. The school of thought known as modal realism, embodied by figures such as David Lewis, defines possible worlds as a network of functionally infinite and actually ontologically existent worlds beyond our own (Loux & Crisp, 2017, pp. 149), while the school of modal fictionalism accepts the concept of possible worlds as useful concepts for exploring hypotheticals and modal semantics, but refuse to commit to the actual ontological existence of these worlds, finding it extravagant to believe that something exists simply because it could exist, with no possible means of verification.

Because these possible worlds are in no way tangible, detectable, or reachable, existing purely as hypothetical constructs, they can be said to not exist ontologically on a functional basis whether or not they actually do exist, as their ontological existence from their own perspective is irrelevant to our own. This is distinct from, for example, previous skepticism about the existence of atoms or modern skepticism of hypothetical subatomic particles like gravitons or tachyons, and is distinct from skepticism in the existence of universes which may precede or succeed our own after processes of cosmological expansion and collapse.

These are theoretical or intangible objects which nevertheless can be demonstrated to exist within our “world”, and while they may not be directly observable, they have second- and third-order effects that are. A possible world exists in complete isolation from our own, and even if scientists developed some sort of gateway between our world and other possible worlds, this would then form a new multi-world construct which would still be a single “world” or maximally connected unified spatiotemporal system (Rosen, 1995, pp. 70), just as the bonding of two atoms to form a molecule does not change the nature of a particular atom or its structure. Possible worlds are simply logical and linguistic constructs, and any argument supporting their ontological existence from a perspective that cannot perceive them is based on extravagant metaphysical arguments that derive existence empirically from linguistic semantics, or manipulate fictionalist statements into stating the same in order to make them seem realist, rather than fictionalism’s use of semantics modified with a primitive prefix (e.g. According to possible worlds theory PW, …) as a passive descriptive and theoretical framework. At most, the latter model may omit the possible existence of worlds that no philosopher has any means of demonstrating the ontological status of, but it leaves room for possible expansion and is theoretically consistent, while realist models base the ontology of possible worlds on spurious arguments.

A simple criticism of this form of fictionalism is that it is philosophically empty, reducing possible world semantics to mere “algebra” (Hale, 1995, pp. 67) and stripping possible world discourse of its benefits, including what Divers refers to as analyticity and extensionality of possible worlds theory, the ability to create easily expansible and logically consistent worlds to explore counterfactual situations. Divers correctly assesses the purpose of modal realism as pairing the desire to explore possible world discourse and scenarios without committing to the ontology of these possible worlds (Divers, 1995, pp. 82). However, the entire purpose of fiction is precisely its usefulness to explore hypotheticals while recognizing its distinction from actuality. It does not invent entire ontological universes out of singular modal sentences, meaning that fictionalism is actually more faithful to perceivable truth than “realism.”

The more damning criticism raise by realist critics of fictionalism would also find that modal fictionalism is theoretically weak; that it cannot deliver semantic theory which satisfies the needs of possible worlds discourse. However, the primary difference between modal realism and fictionalism is that fictionalism prefaces all explorations of possible worlds with a caveat such as “if PW is true”—fictionalism does not explore or create actual realities, but counterfactual situations and narratives that cannot be verified and whose true consequences cannot be perceived. This does not mean fictionalist PW discourse is not “genuine” or is inherently flawed, as it is not intrinsically different from realist discourse except ontologically.

  By providing properly phrased theoretical prefixes, modal realism is able to explore the logic and semantics of possible worlds without committing to their ontological existence, which by definition cannot be proved one way or another, as any inclusion into our maximally connected spatiotemporal system would cease to be a “possible” world and would simply be part of our world. It can therefore be safely said that any world lacking a spatial, causal, and temporal relationship to our own does not exist on a functional level. Perhaps in the future humanity may open “gateways” between alternate universes, but in semantics terms this would simply be expanding our spatiotemporal system. Ontology of these universes is a question for physics, not semantics—any other worlds are a product of empirical physical processes, and no amount of semantics can make or unmake their existence. From our own semantic perspective, any other world is necessarily a fiction, otherwise we would perceive it direct or indirectly.

 

Bibliography

Loux, M. & Crisp T. (2017). Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. Routledge.

Rosen, G. (1995). Modal Fictionalism Fixed. Analysis, 55(2), pp. 67-73.

Hale, B. (1995). Modal Fictionalism: A Simple Dilemma. Analysis, 55(2), pp. 63-67.

Divers, J. (1995). Modal Fictionalism Cannot Deliver Possible Worlds Semantics. Analysis, 55(2), pp. 81-89.



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