Ways a World Might Be: Metaphysical and Anti-Metaphysical Essays

Paperback | October 30, 2003

byRobert C. Stalnaker

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Ways a World Might Be collects, and adds to, Robert Stalnaker's published papers on metaphysical issues. The central theme that runs throughout the book is the role of possible worlds in articulating our various metaphysical commitments. The essays contain both reflections on the general ideaof a space of possibilities and attempts to use the framework of possible worlds to formulate and clarify semantic and metaphysical questions about properties and individuals, supervenience and essentialism, reference, thought and experience. The essays also reflect on the nature of metaphysics,and on the relation between metaphysical and semantic questions - questions about what there is and questions about how we talk and think about what there is.The book begins by asking what possible worlds are, and how we are able to represent and know about them. Stalnaker argues that we can take possibilities seriously without embracing the kind of modal realism that David Lewis defended, and can take them as fundamental without purporting to offer areductive account of modality. He then turns to questions about the nature of properties and relations and their role in carving up a space of possibilities, and to questions about the nature of individuals, and the way they are identified across time and possible worlds. The essays in the last twosections of the book are concerned with the interaction of metaphysical and semantic issues, and with the place of subjective experience in our conception of an objective world as it is in itself. Two of the fourteen essays, plus an extensive introduction that sets the papers in context and makes explicit some of the essays' common threads, are published here for the first time.

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Ways a World Might Be collects, and adds to, Robert Stalnaker's published papers on metaphysical issues. The central theme that runs throughout the book is the role of possible worlds in articulating our various metaphysical commitments. The essays contain both reflections on the general ideaof a space of possibilities and attempts to ...

Robert C. Stalnaker is in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.63 inPublished:October 30, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199251495

ISBN - 13:9780199251490

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Table of Contents

IntroductionI. Ways and Worlds1. Possible Worlds2. On What Possible Worlds Could Not Be3. ImpossibilitiesII. Carving Up Logical Space4. Anti-Essentialism5. Varieties of SupervenienceIII. Identity In and Across Possible Worlds6. Counterparts and Identity7. Vague Identity8. The Interaction of Modality with Quantifiers and IdentityIV. Semantics, Metasemantics, and Metaphysics9. Reference and Necessity10. On Considering a Possible World as Actual11. Conceptual Truth and Metaphysical NecessityV. Subjective Possibilities12. What is it Like to be a Zombie?13. Comparing Qualia Across Persons14. On Thomas Nagel's Objective Self

Editorial Reviews

`This collection brings together important essays of consistently high quality by a leading contemporary metaphysician. The prospect of a collection offers the author the opportunity to take an overview of his work and to identify its core and unifying themes. And when this opportunity istaken, what is distinctive and demanding of our attention in the authors work emerges more clearly and the work itself emerges with added significance. Robert Stalnaker has taken this opportunity, and so Ways a World Might Be is a collection which stands as a genuinely valuable addition to hispreviously published work and to the literature of contemporary metaphysics.'John Divers, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews