, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 83–101 | Cite as

Possible worlds as shifting domains

  • Takashi Yagisawa


Those who object to David Lewis' modal realism express qualms about philosophical respectability of the Lewisian notion of a possible world and its correlate notion of an inhabitant of a possible world. The resulting impression is that these two notions either stand together or fall together. I argue that the Lewisian notion of a possible world is otiose even for a good Lewisian modal realist, and that one can carry out a good Lewisian semantics for modal discourse without Lewisian possible worls. I do so by generalizing Lewis' own idea that restrictions on quantification “come and go with the pragmatic wind” and relativizing possible worlds as shifting domains of discourse. I then suggest a way to soften the infamous “incredulous stare”.


Modal Realism Modal Discourse Lewisian Semantic Correlate Notion Lewisian Modal Realist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, R. M.: 1974, ‘Theories of Actuality’, Noûs, 8, 211–31.Google Scholar
  2. Barwise, J. and Etchemendy, J.: 1987, The Liar, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Lewis, D.: 1979, ‘Attitudes De Dicto and De Se’, Philosophical Review 88, 513–43.Google Scholar
  4. Lewis, D.: 1983, ‘Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic’, Philosophical Papers, Volume I, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 26–46.Google Scholar
  5. Lewis, D.: 1986, On the Plurality of Worlds, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Lycan, W.: 1979, ‘The Trouble with Possible Worlds’, in Michael J.Loux (ed.), The Possible and the Actual, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, pp. 274–316.Google Scholar
  7. Plantinga, A.: 1974, The Nature of Necessity, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  8. Stalnaker, R.: 1976, ‘Possible Worlds’, Noûs 10, 65–75.Google Scholar
  9. van Inwagen, P.: 1980, ‘Indexicality and Actuality’, Philosophical Review 89, 403–26.Google Scholar
  10. van Inwagen, P.: 1986, ‘Two Concepts of Possible Worlds’, in P. A. French, T. E. Uehling, Jr., and H. K. Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11, 193.Google Scholar
  11. Yagisawa, T.: 1988, ‘Beyond Possible Worlds’, Philosophical Studies 53, 175–204.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi Yagisawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations