POSSIBILITY VERSUS POSSIBLE WORLDS (pages 147-164)

James CARGILE

ABSTRACT: It is a common idea in philosophy that some false propositions such as (C) that Charlottesville is the largest city in Virginia, have the property of being possibly true. It is not a clear idea but an important one which has inspired considerable effort at clarification. One suggestion is that there exist (really, not just possibly) “possible worlds” in which C or some suitable facsimile is true. One further attempt at clarification on offer is that there exists (again, really) a maximal consistent set of propositions containing C. It is argued here that these attempts at clarification are profoundly erroneous. There exist actual powers of imaginative construction which would yield a scenario sufficiently detailed to be recognized by competent reviewers as one in which C is true. (The depiction might be in film or narrative and would avoid analytic falsehoods.) This is a frail clarification, vulnerable to questions, but is the best possible direction for a clear idea of the possibility of the proposition. The notion of possible worlds is associated with very valuable work in mathematical logic. It can only improve our appreciation of this excellent work to separate it from cloudy metaphysics.

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