Posts tagged ‘modality’

February 4th, 2016

Identity in Branching Worlds (Multiverse)

by Max Andrews

In a non-Everettian context (Hugh Everett) identity may be understood in different ways. Consider David Wallace’s example of the ancient pot (P2). An antiquities specialist informs you that your P2 is the same as P1, a famous pot owned by Emperor Tiberius in ad 30. There is a four-dimensional tube P in spacetime extending from P1 toP2—a spacetime worm. The matter of the tube has certain structural and dynamical connections running along it. If we write P(t) for the contents of P indexed at time t, the specialist’s claim is underwritten by the existence of some structural-dynamical relation R holding, for each t, between P(t) and P(t + δt), with δ signifying a difference or change in time. Each indexed moment along P(t) would simply be a stage of the pot’s existence.

There are two basic philosophical conclusions about the identity of the pot being the same pot. The first is called the Worm View as I’ve previously alluded to. Under this view, P is the pot and P1 and P2 are just different names for the pot (literally, P1 = P2). The second view that the P1 and P2 are the same is the Stage View. The pot appears as an instantaneous three-dimensional object: P1 = P(AD 30); P2 = P(AD 2016). Thus, to say that P1 and P2 is the same pot, it means: P2 is linked to P1 by a continuous chain of R-related pots.

April 21st, 2013

The Reverse Ontological Argument

by Max Andrews

Interestingly, there is an argument used by atheists to demonstrate that God is impossible, which picks up on the ontological argument. This argument is traditionally called the reverse ontological argument. Instead of demonstrating that God a maximally great being that exists necessarily, the reverse form is used to demonstrate that God is impossible. To give a context for the atheistic argument here are the two most popular versions of the theistic ontological argument:

The Anselmian Ontological Argument (Theistic)

  1. God exists in the understanding
  2. God is a possible being
  3. If X exists only in the understanding and is a possible being, then X might have been greater
  4. Suppose God exists only in the understanding
  5. God might have been greater (2, 4, 3)
  6. God is a being than which a greater is not possible
  7. So, a being than which nothing greater is not possible is a being which is greater is possible
  8. Since 4 led to a contradiction 4 must be false
  9. God exists not only in the understanding alone—God exists in reality as well
    read more »

June 14th, 2012

Necessitarian Theory and Why Logical Positivists Attempt to Avoid Nomic Necessity

by Max Andrews

The necessitarian states that there are metaphysical connections of necessity in the world that ground and explain the most fundamental regularities.  Necessitarian theorists usually use the word must to express this connection.[1]  Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).[2]  Nomic necessity claims that it is difficult for mere regularity to account for certain counterfactual claims because what happens in the actual world do not themselves imply anything about what would have happened had things been different.[3]  If it is now true that Q occurs if P causally precedes Q then the necessitarian can adequately account for counterfactual claims.  Given the present antecedent condition of P at tn and P implies Q at tn and it was true that P implied Q at tn-1 then using P as an antecedent for R at hypothetical tn-1’ then R is true if P was a sufficient condition R at tn-1’. Thus, there is certainty in the truth of counterfactual claims.  However, counterfactuals allow for conflict between truth functional interpretation and ordinary language.  For instance, any counterfactual claim with the necessary condition having a false truth-value and the sufficient condition obtaining a truth-value that is true then the counterfactual claim will be invalid.

Why is supporting counterfactual conditionals a symptom of nomic necessity? I would ague that there must be a connection or relationship between the conditions.  Consider the argument, as modus ponens, that if the moon’s core is made of cheese then my desk is made from mahogany.  What relationship do these two conditions have?

March 28th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

The Word of the Week is: Modal Realism

Definition: Modal realism is the idea that all modal possibilities are actual.

More about the term:  Anything that is possible actually happens.  However, modal realism is, in a sense, modally limited.  The state of affairs of the non-existence of anything cannot be true if something does exist so by definition modal realism must entail ~∃!W with W being the non-existence of anything—nothing, lest it suffer the consequence of being intrinsically incoherent (~∃!W = There does not exist just one W).  In order to avoid an inherent incoherence perhaps there are logically antecedent reasons to affirm ~∃!W (i.e. actuality is logically prior to possibility, which makes possibility somewhat superfluous). Under certain multiverse scenarios different regions of space will exhibit different effective laws of physics (i.e. difference constants, dimensionality, particle content, relation of information, information propagation, etc.) corresponding to different local minima in a landscape of possibilities.[1] 

December 31st, 2011

Modal Realism, the Multiverse, and the Problem of Evil

by Max Andrews

Robert Adams raises and interesting objection to modal realism based on the problem of evil.  He believes

[That] our very strong disapproval of the deliberate actualizing of evils… reflects a belief in the absolutely, and not just relatively, special status of the actual as such.  Indeed, if we ask, “What is wrong with actualizing evils, since they will occur in some other possible world anyways if they don’t occur in this one?”, I doubt that the indexical theory can provide an answer which will be completely satisfying ethically.[1]

Adams’ objection concerning the actualization of evil is irrelevant to a Thomistic version of modal realism (this version to be released in an upcoming paper in the Fall of 2012).  Thomas does not seem to have any problem with the presence of evil.  When discussing Boethius, a philosopher prompts the question, “If there is a God, how comes evil?”  Thomas argues that the question should be reversed—“If there is evil, there is a God.”  For there would be no evil, if the order of goodness were taken away, the privation of which is evil; and this order would not be, if God were not.[2]