Posts tagged ‘possible worlds’

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.

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May 17th, 2013

Why this Life First? Why not Heaven?

by Max Andrews

This is a legitimate question. The claim that God could have created us in the state of heaven avoiding all this evil and suffering in the world is a nuanced version of the problem of evil.  If we are going to heaven and our telos, our purpose and end, is to worship God and enjoy him forever in heaven then why didn’t God skip this earthly step?  Surely, one may think that there’s a possible world in which we all exist in heaven.  It’s my contention that the instantiation of heaven alone is not a possible world.

Aside from other theodicies and defenses such as soul-making, perhaps the most relevant to this question, I think it’s critical to understand that heaven isn’t some lone possible state of affairs by itself.  Heaven is, necessarily, a contingent state of affairs.  It’s a consequent, if and only if, there are prior antecedent conditions or states of affairs.  Heaven is a result of our choices during this life.  In other words, this earthly life is a necessary condition for heaven to be brought about (aside from the salvific will of the Father and saving power of Christ, I’m merely stating that this life must precede heaven.

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February 15th, 2013

Is This a Possible World?

by Max Andrews

So, I gave a pop quiz to my class today because I asked them if they had any questions about any of the material we’ve been recently going over (logic) and no one had any questions. Because of their confidence I gave them a quiz, which resulted in very interesting answers. One of the questions was to describe some possible world. Simple enough, right? If they knew what a possible world was they could write something simple down like “there are pink elephants” or “my shirt is red instead of blue.” However, I got this very interesting one that made me think. Think about it and let me know how you would respond to this scenario. It assumes a lot about knowledge, minds, God, etc.

In a possible world there is no predictability. Nothing that happens once happens again a second time. There is no way to know what is going to happen but there is also no such thing as knowing because there is nobody to know anything since a being would require repeated processes to function and remain functioning.

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June 27th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Monad

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Mondad

Definition: The one and only substance, which composes existence

More about the term: The big problem for Leibniz was, mathematically, if something takes up a finite amount of space then it must be divisible.  This was the infinite divisibility of matter (DM, Sec. 9, lines 6-9).  Why is this a problem? Because he’s trying to solve the question, “What is substance?” Sub+stans, that which stands underneath. This is where he gets the word monad, mono-, one, unity.  A monad must have these qualities:

  • Cannot be divided any further
  • Does not have parts
  • Not material, but rather more like a soul
  • According to Leibniz, they are a spritual substance
  • Infinite number of them
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June 17th, 2012

Leibniz’s Principles

by Max Andrews

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz had several principles of philosophy and theology.  Some of which are widely used and recognized today and perhaps some are ignored.  The first, and perhaps best known, principle is the principle of sufficient reason (PSR).  There are two forms of PSR: PSRa and PSRb.  PSRa states that there must be some sufficient reason for why something exists rather than not.  PSRb states that there must be some sufficient reason for any positive fact whatsoever.  However, is PSR true in all possible worlds?  This is highly debatable.  Is it a metaphysical brute fact that any fact has an explanation? But wait, what’s the explanation of that PSR?  Perhaps PSR, in the end, is question begging.

Then there’s the principle of perfection: God always conducts himself in the most perfect manner (See Discourse on Metaphysics, Sec. 3, passim].  Thus, for Leibniz, If God creates then God creates the best possible world.  By the way, possible world semantics were first used and developed by Leibniz.  On a similar note, there is the principle of least action: God always chooses the most minimal means by which to produce the world or states of affairs, etc.  This is akin the the simplicty to a virtuous theory.  We often hear of a theory as beautiful, elegant, or simple.

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May 23rd, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Plantingan Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Plantingan Modal Realism

Defininition:  The modal metaphyiscs of Alvin Plantinga.

More about the word:  Contra to mere theisitic modal realism  and their doctrines Alvin Plantinga includes a commitment to a very large modal reality. Any object that has an accidental property in any world w–say, property of being the world’s tallest man–also has the modal property of being possibly the world’s fastest human and the modal property of being necessarily the world’s fastest human in w.  For every concredete object x there is some property P and some world w wuch that w includes x’s having P.  For Plantinga’s modal realism, abstract worlds are abstract objects. In theistic modal realism each possible world is the mereological sum of its parts.  These parts are themseves concrete individuals with spatiotemporal properties.  Plantinga’s modal realism does not necessarily entail multiverse scenarios. (For more see Michale Almaeida’s, Metaphysics of Perfect Beings, 140-50.)

May 1st, 2012

The Six Doctrines of Possible Worlds

by Max Andrews

Our usual understanding of possible worlds are simply references to any possible state of affairs.  They have no ontic grounding or actuality.  It’s a semantic tool.  However, there are those who treat possible worlds as actual. (The world actual becomes very fuzzy in modal realism).  Philosopher David Lewis is the leading proponent of modal realism (Lewisian modal realism) and he has developed six essential doctrines to understanding modal realism:

  1. Possible worlds exist–they are just as real as our world
  2. Possible worlds are the same sort of things as our world–they differ in content, not in kind
  3. Possible worlds cannot be reduced to something more basic–they are irreducible entities in their own right
  4. Actuality is indexical.  When we distinguish our world from other possible worlds by claiming that it alone is actual, we mean only that it is our world
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