A powers theory of modality: or, how I learned to stop worrying and reject possible worlds

Jonathan D. Jacobs
2009 Philosophical Studies  
Possible worlds, concrete or abstract as you like, are irrelevant to the truthmakers for modality-or so I shall argue in this paper. First, I present the neo-Humean picture of modality, and explain why those who accept it deny a common sense view of modality. Second, I present what I take to be the most pressing objection to the neo-Humean account, one that, I argue, applies equally well to any theory that grounds modality in possible worlds. Third, I present an alternative, propertiesbased
more » ... ry of modality and explore several specific ways to flesh the general proposal out, including my favored version, the powers theory. And, fourth, I offer a powers semantics for counterfactuals that each version of the properties-based theory of modality can accept, mutatis mutandis. Together with a definition of possibility and necessity in terms of counterfactuals, the powers semantics of counterfactuals generates a semantics for modality that appeals to causal powers and not possible worlds.
doi:10.1007/s11098-009-9427-1 fatcat:fygl3zdvnjbbti3llkzkmffsoy