Possibility and Reality: Metaphysics and Logic

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Hans Rott, Vítezslav Horák
Ontos, 2003 - Mathematics - 299 pages
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The dialectics of possibility and reality is an old philosophical theme. In contrast to empirical sciences that deal with reality, philosophy has sometimes been viewed as the science of the possible. That said, the modal concepts of possibility and necessity have proven to be ambiguous and recalcitrant to analysis, and their relation to the concept of reality remains problematic to the present day. From Aristotle to Russell, the belief that the "real" world by no means exhausts the "possible" worlds has attracted serious thought.

This work brings together a group of experts who are intent on transcending the worn-out dichotomy between analytic and continental philosophy. This collection takes a fresh look at the metaphysics and logic of possibility and reality, and illuminates them from a great variety of perspectives. Topics include the history of philosophy (from Greek antiquity to David Lewis) as well as the semantics of possible worlds; logic, mathematics, and computer science as well as literature and the new media; forms of scientific as well as fictional discourse.

The basic position taken by many contributors is a commonsensical one. In ordinary language we do not seem to have any problem in making statements about future possibilities without establishing definitive claims to their truth. In other words,.one can speak of future contingencies without making claims for present-day truths. Moreover, the contributors hold that it seems quite feasible to talk of objective truth as a series of possibilities rather than empirical realities. All branches of philosophy seem to agree that to think about possibilities is an inclination of human nature. In short, the more we know about possibilities the better human beings and actions relate to reality.

This is a serious effort that invokes a sense of intellectual history to explain issues that are vexing, but not insoluble. It will interest a variety of people from philosophers to social planners.

Vtezslav Hork is director of the DFG-Project on Cultures of Lying. Both he and Hans Rott are affiliated with Universitt Regensburg Institut fr Philosophie, Regensburg, Germany.

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