Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 479–503 | Cite as

The representational limits of possible worlds semantics

  • Nicholas K. Jones


This paper evaluates Stalnaker’s recent attempt to outline a realist interpretation of possible worlds semantics that lacks substantive metaphysical commitments. The limitations of his approach are used to draw some more general lessons about the non-representational artefacts of formal representations. Three key conclusions are drawn. (1) Stalnaker’s account of possible worlds semantics’ non-representational artefacts does not cohere with his modal metaphysics. (2) Invariance-based analyses of non-representational artefacts cannot capture a certain kind of artefact. (3) Stalnaker must treat instrumentally those aspects of possible worlds formalism governing the interaction between quantification and modality, under any analysis whatsoever of non-representational artefacts.


Stalnaker Contingent existence Possible worlds semantics Invariance Artefacts 



For comments and discussion, I’m grateful to Justin Clarke-Doane, Billy Dunaway, Peter Fritz, Anil Gomes, Bob Hale, Rory Madden, Ian Phillips, Scott Sturgeon, Lee Walters, and Al Wilson. Thanks also to an audience in Nottingham, and the members of the Hossack-Textor WiP group. I’m especially grateful to Bob Stalnaker, for detailed and instructive written comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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