David Lewis (1941-2001) is without any doubt one of the greatest metaphysicians of the last 50 years. It is only natural, then, that the ATMOC dedicates several meetings to his theory of “modal realism”, especially as we celebrate his 70th birthday this year.
Michele Salimbeni, doctoral student at the EHESS (Institut Jean Nicod), and specialist of David Lewis’ work, has confirmed his intervention in the ATMOC, to present the American philosopher’s system, and to speak on the current stakes of modal realism. Four meetings will no doubt be devoted to these questions under the aegis of Michele Salimbeni:
*First Meeting: “Modal Realism: Modality, Counterfactuals, Possible Worlds”.
*Second Meeting: “Modal Realism: Why should one believe in the plurality of worlds?”.
*Third Meeting: “Modal Realism Today: On the Plurality of Worlds 20 years later”.
*Fourth Meeting: “Outline for a Modal Theory of Perception”. Michele Salimbeni will consecrate this meeting to his own work, which relates the Lewisian theory of possible worlds – to which he introduces substantial modifications – to the concept of image – work that he pursues currently in his thesis under the direction of Frédéric Nef, Possibilité, images et mondes possibles.
Below is the summary that Michele Salimbeni passed on to us:
These interventions are concerned with modal realism: the metaphysical thesis on the plurality of worlds of the American philosopher David Lewis. According to this thesis, possible worlds are not only abstract entities, employed to give an explanation of the two central modal concepts of possibility and necessity, but are also concrete and real entities, like our very universe. For Lewis, “[t]here are so many other possible worlds, in fact, that absolutely every way that a world could possibly be is a way that some world is“. [Lewis 1986: 2] Each of these worlds is a “big physical object”, a big concrete object. But why believe in a plurality of worlds? What are the philosophical benefits of an adherence to this elegant, but controversial theory? In his classic On the Plurality of Worlds, Lewis responds that we must think this plurality “[b]ecause the hypothesis is serviceable, and that is a reason to think that it is true”. [Lewis 1986: 3] We will attempt to comprehend the terms of this utility.
[Originally published 20 July 2011. Translated by Mark Ohm.]