modal logic, semantics

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modal logic, semantics

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Author(s): Allen Hazen

Reviewed work(s):

Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 76, No. 6 (Jun., 1979), pp. 319-338

Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 3I9

plained in terms of rules that define individual constants, the notion

of logical truth depends on the notion of truth for a language. If a

nonstandard logic is possible, in a way that is not parasitic upon

classical logic, then a nonclassical notion of truth and consequence

is possible. But if a nonstandard logic must ultimately be explained

using classical logic, then indeed we would have found something

that "our thought can overflow, but never displace."

IAN HACKING

Stanford University

COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS

FOR MODAL LOGIC *

DAVID

LEWIS'sproposals1 for the analysis of de re modal

locutions 2 represent a major advance in thinking on the

subject, but have not had the amount of critical study they

deserve. In this paper I will inquire whether they constitute an ade-

quate semantic theory of de re modality. In doing so I will not dis-

cuss Lewis's notorious metaphysical realism with respect to possible

worlds. The semantic theory embodied in his postulates for counter-

part theory and his schema for translating a modal language into a

counterpart-theoretic one are compatible with any of a wide range

of metaphysical theories about possible worlds and the nature of

possibility; arguments about which of these metaphysical theories is

correct are therefore irrelevant to the semantic issue. In particular,

adoption of a counterpart-theoretic semantics is compatible with

taking possible worlds to be purely abstract structures, with the

* This paper is a counterpart of a portion of my dissertation (University of

Pittsburgh, 1977), but has benefited from comments on an earlier version. I

wvould like to thank my advisor, Joseph Camp, and also David Lewis, Robert

Purdy, and Jay Hartman Hazen for their various kinds of help and encourage-

ment.

I In "Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic," this JOURNAL, LXV, 5

(Mlarch 7, 1968): 113-126. Acquaintance with this paper is presupposed; refer-

ences to Lewis, unless otherwise noted, are to it. Cf. also his "Counterparts of

Persons and Their Bodies," this JOURNAL, LXVIiI, 7 (April 8, 1971): 203-211.

2 This paper considers only the first-order logic of necessity and possibility,

treated by Lewis in the papers cited, with the addition of an actuality operator.

Counterpart-theoretic semantics have also beeni proposed for other (more often

employed?) intensional locutions, such as counterfactuals. Cf. LeNvis, Couinter-

factuals (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1973), pp. 36-43.

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320 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

in pure mathematics. (There is, of course, no reason why all pos-

sible worlds have to have the same ontological status: one might,

for example, hold that the possible worlds corresponding to merely

logical possibility are merely abstract structures, but that those

corresponding to some kind of physical possibility have a more

concrete kind of existence. Certainly the radical treatments of the

problem of future contingents don't seem to regard alternative

futures as merely abstract structures.3)

There are arguments purporting to show that the central idea

of counterpart-theoretic semantics-allowing an entity in the domain

of one world to represent an entity distinct from itself in the domain

of another world-is misguided. Thus Saul Kripke 4 has written:

Strictlyspeaking,Lewis'sview is not a view of 'transworldidentifica-

tion.' Rather, he thinks that similaritiesacrosspossible worlds deter-

mine a counterpart relation which need be neither symmetricnor

transitive. The counterpartof something in another possible world

is never identical with the thing itself. Thus if we say "Humphrey

might have won the election (if only he had done such-and-such)."

we are not talking about something that might have happened to

Humphrey but to someone else, a 'counterpart'.Probably, however,

Humphrey could not care less whether someone else, no matter how

much resemblinghim, would have been victoriousin another possible

world.

last sentence, Hubert Humphrey's putative intuitions) against

Lewis's semantic theory. In judging it we must first be clear about

the way in which linguistic intuition is relevant to semantic theory.

The prime requirement on a semantic theory is that it assign truth

conditions to sentences of our natural language (or to those of some

language whose sentences are taken as translations of the sentences

of our natural language) that are in accord with our intuitions.

Our intuitive judgments, made "upon reflection," after we have as-

sured ourselves of the nonlinguistic facts, of what is true and what

implies what, are the appearances that a semantic theory must save.

It is, however, important to distinguish just what the subjects of

these intuitive judgments are. The judgments are about sentences of

Theoria, xxxvi, 3 (1970): 264-281.

4In a footnote to "Naming and Necessity," in D. Davidson and G. Harman,

eds, Semantics of Natural Language (Boston: Reidel, 1972), p. 344. Unless other-

wise noted, references to Kripke will be to "Naming and Necessity."

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 321

technical language of Lewis's semantic theory, which are outside

our natural language or at least constitute an extension of it, with

sentences of our ordinary language, and so misapplies intuitive

judgments about sentences of ordinary language to the technical

ones. On Lewis's theory, to say that Humphrey might have won the

election-a modal claim, made in our ordinary language-is to say

something that is true just in case, to put the conditions in his

technical language, Humphrey's counterpart in some world where

Humphrey himself does not exist, did win. To put Lewis's claim

in the form "Not Humphrey himself, but someone resembling him,

might have won the election," which is essentially what Kripke

does, can only create confusion. It incorporates a modal locution

('might'), and so appears to be a sentence of ordinary language. As

such, it is one our intuition rebels against, for it directly contradicts

the intuitively acceptable claim that Humphrey might have won

("if only he had done such-and-such"). Intuitively, then, this sen-

tence is false; but its falsity, as a sentence of our ordinary modal

language, in no way counts against Lewis's theory. To make our

rejection of this sentence into a rejection of Lewis's theory, we must

confuse it with the sentence "Humphrey himself does not exist out-

side the actual world, but a counterpart of Humphrey won in some

world." This last is, on Lewis's view, true, but, mentioning as it

does possible worlds and counterparts, is a sentence not of our

ordinary modal language but of the technical language of counter-

part theory. As such it is not a sentence that we, qua speakers of

our particular natural language, are entitled to have intuitions

about.5 Similarly, Humphrey's regrets about the (supposed) fact that

(had he done such-and-such) he might have won the election would

lead him to express regrets about the electoral successes of people in

other possible worlds only if he was in the habit of expressing the

propositional content of his regrets in the language of Lewis's

analysis.

Similar confusions lurk in Kripke's use of the phrase "we are

not talking about something that might have happened to Hum-

phrey." Clearly if we say "Humphrey might have won," we are

5 All of which is not to deny that Lewis and others who accept his frame-

work can argue within it, and so can be said to have logical intuitions about its

sentences. The arguments carried on within the framework of counterpart theory

are ordinary, nonmodal, arguments; the logical intuitions they reflect are not

intuitions about the particular content of counterpart theory, but only the

ordinary intuitions about the validity of arguments involving quantifiers and

connectives.

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322 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

have won is a fact about Humphrey. What Lewis does is to offer

an analysis of this fact: on his account it is a relational fact about

Humphrey, consisting of his bearing certain relations to possible

worlds and election winners in them. It is agreed that winning the

election is something that might have happened to Humphrey, but

what is agreed upon is here expressed with the aid of an unanalyzed

modal locution. Our intuitive acceptance of this modal claim gives

us no reason to reject the claim, made in an artificial, nonmodal,

language, that Humphrey is not identical with his counterpart in

the domains of non-actual possible worlds.

Alvin Plantinga 6 has offered a similar criticism of Lewis's posi-

tion:

Accordingto CounterpartTheory, Socrates-the person who actually

is Socrates,the Socratesof @, if you wish-exists in just one world:

the actual world. In that world he is wise. Accordinglythere is no

world in which he is unwise. There is no possible state of affairssuch

that if it lhadbeen actual, this very person would have been unwise.

Accordingly,it is impossible that lhe should have been unwise. But

then he has the propertyof being wise essentially.

Lewis's metaphysical theory, expressed in counterpart-theoretic

language, Plantinga draws conclusions from them in our ordinary

modal language-that Socrates could not have been unwise, and

so that he was wise essentially. In drawing these conclusions he is,

of course, presupposing certain equivalences between sentences of

a nonmodal language describing possible worlds and things in them

and sentences of our ordinary modal language. The equivalences he

presupposes, however, are not those of Lewis's schema for trans-

lating modal into counterpart-theoretic language, but are those sug-

gested by earlier versions of possible-worlds semantics for modal

logic. Plantinga's argument against Lewis, tlhen, slhows only thiat

Lewis's theory must be taken whole: you can't combine Lewis's

metaphysical claim that an individual exists in only one world with

the pre-Lewis explication of 'x has F essentially' as 'x has F in every

world in which x exists' and get acceptable results.

6 The Natuire of Necessity (New York: Oxford, 1974), pp. 115/6. I lhave sib-

stituted Lewis's symbol for the actual world, @, for Plantinga's.

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 323

fusion:

I say that Socrates could have been unwise I do not mean that tlhere

is a possible world in which Socrates-our Socrates-in the strict and

literal sense is unwise; I mean only that there is a world in which in

the new and looser sense he has that property. I so use the sentence

'Socrates could have been unwise' that what it expresses is entailed

by the truth that Socrates has foolish counterparts." Thus perhaps he

speaks with the vulgar and thinks with the learned. He genially agrees

that there is a world in which Socrates is unwise and concludes that

Socrates could have been unwise. By adopting this course he preserves

verbal agreement with the rest of us who do not look upon Socrates

as a world-bound individual.

But of course the agreement is only verbal. For it is only in this loose

and Pickwickian sense that he concedes the existence of a world in

which Socrates is unwise; and his use of 'Socrates could have been

unwise' is therefore similarly loose and Pickwickian. If in his use the

sentence 'Socrates could have been unwise' expresses a proposition

entailed by the fact that Socrates has unwise counterparts, then the

Counterpart Theorist is using that sentence to express a proposition

different from the one the rest of us express by it. While he assents to

our sentence, he denies the proposition we take it to express.

the truth value of the sentence 'Socrates could have been unwise' is

the only agreement that can be demanded from the counterpart

theorist: it is the only agreement that matters. Our logical intuitions

about such sentences of our ordinary modal language are the evi-

dence that both Plantinga and the counterpart theorist must appeal

to and explain. What proposition is expressed by such a sentence,

or, less tendentiously, how to state what is expressed by such a

sentence in terms of possible worlds and objects in them, is a mat-

ter of theory, and the counterpart theorist has proposed a theory at

variance with Plantinga's. The counterpart theorist claims that the

proposition he, and we, express by the sentence 'Socrates could have

been unwise' has been mischaracterized by the semantic theory

Plantinga uses, with its underlying ontology of objects that exist in

more than one world. Plantinga has demanded agreement on the

theoretical sentences of that theory, as if they were as binding on

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324 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

sentence 'Socrates could have been unwise' expresses a truth.

Although the objections to the principle of interpreting de re

modalities in terms of individuals being represented by other ob-

jects in the domains of worlds other than their own are misguided,

there are problems with Lewis's account, to which I wish to devote

the rest of this paper. The modal logic generated by Lewis's ac-

count (i.e., the set of object-language arguments it validates) is dif-

ferent from that generated by more conventional possible-worlds

semantics and less plausible. In some cases it assigns truth values to

garden-variety modal assertions that are at variance with clear in-

tuitions. Some of these problems can be eliminated by changing

the way in which truth conditions for modal statements are speci-

fied in terms of the counterpart relation; others necessitate modifi-

cations in the definition of the counterpart relation itself. In the

end I shall argue that a simple counterpart relation is not a suffi-

ciently discriminating way of choosing representatives in one world

for objects in another.

A methodological comment before we begin: perhaps because of

his literal belief in possible worlds, Lewis does not present his

theory as a model theory for modal language. Such a model theory

is, however, easily extracted from his work. Let a Lewis model

structure be an ordinary structure, in the sense of the conventional

model theory of (nonmodal) predicate logic, satisfying Lewis's first-

order axiomatization of counterpart theory. A formula of modal

predicate logic, then, may be said to be Lewis-satisfiable just in case

its translation into the nonmodal counterpart-theoretic language

(as given by Lewis's translation schema) is true on some assignment

in some Lewis model structure. This much is fairly straightforward;

claims about the truth or falsity of particular statements on Lewis's

view present additional methodological problems, which I shall

comment upon as occasion arises. The purely model-theoretic and

logical points could be discussed simply in terms of the formal con-

straints placed on the counterpart relations of Lewis model structures

by Lewis's axiomatization, without reference to his informal char-

acterization of counterparthood in terms of similarity. However,

the interest of Lewis's theory lies in its grounding of questions of

"transworld identification" in less "mysterious" considerations of

similarity,7 and it is reflection on the sort of similarity involved

7 The kind of similarity involved in making one object a counterpart of an-

other need not be exactly what we would have in mind if we said they were

very similar. Compare Lewis's theory of counterfactuals (in Counterfactuals),

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 325

to refrain from placing) on the counterpart relation. Thus, though

I hope it will be clear which of my claims are mathematical and

model-theoretic and which are not, I shall intermingle my points

about the nature of counterparthood and its relation to similarity

with my more strictly model-theoretic points.

II

One of the simplest problems has to do with identity. Lewis's

semantics allows it to be true that although an object x is identical

with an object y, it is possible for x and y to exist and not be

identical with each other. In terms of the first-order modal pred-

icate language (terms which are interesting insofar as some of our

ordinary modal language can be translated into that formalism),

is Lewis-satisfiable. This, as Kripke 8 has argued, is very implausible.

The problem arises because one object may have more than one

counterpart in some world, and because a formula beginning with

a possibility operator is true [i.e., true at the actual world-for the

purpose of informal exposition we may ignore the fact that similar

problems arise when formulas like (1) occur within the scope of a

modal operator] if the formula within the scope of the possibility

sign is true at some world on some assignment 9 assigning to each

variable occurring free in it some counterpart in that world of the

object in the actual world it is assigned by whatever assignment we

are evaluating the whole formula on. Suppose we have an object

in the actual world with two counterparts in some other world.

where the model theory can be discussed without reference to similarity, but

is motivated in terms of it. Here again, what makes one world closer to an-

other than to a third need not be what would make us say that the over-all

history of events in the first resembled that in the second more than that in

the third (cf. Lewis's "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow," forth-

coming in Nous). Still, the use of the word 'similarity' is justified in both cases:

an object (world) is a counterpart of (close to) another in virtue of their sim-

ilarities in certain respects.

8 In "Identity and Necessity," in Milton Munitz, ed., Identity and Individua-

tion (New York: NYU Press, 1971).

9A formula of the modal language is true at a world and on an assignment

in a Lewis model structure if and only if (a) the assignment assigns objects in

the domain of (i.e., bearing the relation I to) the world to all the variables free

in the formula, and (b) the translation of the formula into the modal language

in accordance with a translation schema like that given on p. 118 of "Counter-

part Theory and Quantified Modal Logic" except for replacing '@' with an

arbitrary variable 'w' in TI is true in the structure on an assignment like the

given assignment except for assigning the world in question to 'w'.

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326 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

Assign both the variable 'x' and the variable 'y' to that object, so

that 'x = y' is true.

x & 3z y = z & x 0 y

x =

assignment assigning one counterpart to 'x' and the other to 'y'.

The problem, then, could be eliminated either by somehow mo-

tivating a constraint on counterparthood to the effect that an object

can have at most one counterpart in any world (I shall argue that

this cannot plausibly be done) or by changing the satisfaction con-

ditions of modal formulas.10

A more serious failing, because less easily mended, is that Lewis's

account does not validate the inference 11from

(2) o Rab

to

(3) oj 3x Rax

(2) is true if, in every world containing counterparts of both a and

b, every counterpart of a bears the relation R to every counterpart

of b. This, however, is consistent with there being worlds in which

a has a counterpart but b doesn't, and in which the counterpart of

a doesn't bear R to anything. Such a world would falsify (3).

Since theorems of first-order logic are necessary if anything is, the

inference from (2) to (3) may be seen as a special case of the plaus-

ible inference from

(4) o Fa

and

(5) nVx (FxDGx)

to

(6) z Ga

Lewis's semantics validates some special cases of this pattern, such

as that in which 'F' and 'G' are monadic predicate letters. With such

special cases the failing is more subtle: Lewis's semantics may vali-

date the inference, but it leaves in limbo the argument we would

10The first way corresponds to a clhange in the class of model structures coii-

sidered, or, in the context of Lewis's original exposition, a strengthening of the

axioms of counterpart theory. The second remedy could be effected very

simply, by adding a couple of clauses to Lewis's translation schema. I have

omitted the details of this minor "fix" because other problems require much

more radical changes in Lewis's theory (and, incidentally, solve this problem).

11 To simplify the example I have used individual constants. Lewis uses no

primitive constants in his examples, but his translation schema can accommodate

formulas containing them.

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 327

informal reasoning we make extensive use of what Van Fraassen has

dubbed epitheoretic arguments, corresponding to the rules of a Fitcl-

style natural-deduction system that involve subordinate proofs.12One

such pattern in modal reasoning consists of concluding that a con-

clusion, validly derived from premises that are themselves asserted

to be necessarily true, is necessary. Thus, for example, since (4) and

(5) tell us that

(7) Fa

and

(8) Vx (Fx D Gx)

are both necessarily true, and since the argument from (7) and (8) to

(9) Ga

is valid, we may conclude that (9) is necessarily true: in other words,

we may conclude that (6) is true. But if we accepted Lewis's seman-

tics, we would have to reject this epitheoretic argument, for this

mode of reasoning would also allow us to derive (3) from (2). In fact,

when a natural-deduction system that is sound relative to Lewis's

semantics is constructed, the derivation of (6) from (4) and (5), even

where 'F' and 'G' are atomic predicates, turns out to involve a

detour through the negation rules.13

In order to see what has gone wrong, it will be illuminating to

ask what the intuitive content of the square is on Lewis's semantics.

One obvious candidate is necessity. When no singular terms occur

in the formula governed by the square, it is quite plausible to take

it as meaning 'it is necessary that'. Another plausible candidate is

essentiality. Where necessity can be thought of as a property of

propositions, essentiality is more of a relation between individuals

and propositions: it is essential to an individual that a proposition

be true if and only if it is necessary that that proposition be true if

the individual exists. Suppose, as is not altogether implausible,

12 It is this correspondence between the method of subordinate proofs and

our modes of informal reasoning that makes natural deduction natural. A

natural-deduction system for quantified modal logic is developed in my

dissertation. It is similar to and inspired by Frederic Fitch's system in his

Symbolic Logic (New York: Ronald Press, 1952), which, however, is not based on

S5 and does not contain an actuality operator. The propositional fragment is

described in my "The Eliminability of the Actuality Operator in Propositional

Modal Logic," Notre Dame Journial of Formal Logic, xix, 4 (October 1978): 617-

622.

13A detour corresponding to the informal mode of reasoning known as in-

direct proof (I have studied a natural-deduction system corresponding to

Lewvis'smiodel theory in unpublished work).

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328 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

counterparts are human. Then, on Lewis's semantics (extended to

cover personal pronouns in the obvious way), it would be correct for

me to assert

(10) o (I am human)

whatever it might mean. But surely it is more plausible to hold that

I, a human being, am essentially human, than that the proposition

saying of me that I am human is a necessary truth; for it might be

false if I didn't exist. Since essentiality can be thought of as a re-

lation, however, this leads to the question: essential to what? If one

singular term occurs in the scope of the square, it is reasonable to

take the square as expressing essentiality to the denotatum of that

term. If there are two singular terms involved, however, Lewis's

semantics makes the square represent essentiality to the two together:

it is necessary that if the denotata of both terms exist, then the

proposition expressed by the sentence in the scope of the square

is true. In general we can say that, on Lewis's interpretation, pre-

fixing a square to a sentence says that the proposition it expresses

is essential to precisely those individuals mentioned in the sentence

(taken together). The counterintuitive results detailed above stem

from the fact that this is an unnatural operator: there are various

locutions of ordinary English that can be taken as necessity opera-

tors, and various ways of expressing essentiality to one or more

objects, but nothing that can plausibly be taken as an operator of

the sort Lewis's semantics makes the square out to be.

If a formal language, interpreted counterpart-theoretically, is to

be useful for representing the sorts of things we say in our ordinary

language, we must give a counterpart-theoretic account of some

better-behaved operator. We must, that is, try to make the square

represent some less mercurial concept than that of essentiality-to-

the-mentioned-objects: preferably necessity, since essentiality can be

defined in terms of it. I have tried. Lewis also considers alternatives

to his translation schema. I have found that a definition that meets

one objection tends to have unpleasant consequences elsewhere.14

The next objection is of a different kind. It is often held that,

for at least some kinds of modality, some relations hold necessarily

or essentially. For example, taking events as a special kind of in-

dividual, one might hold that the death of Caesar was essentially of

Caesar: that it could not have occurred without being the death of

14 In the general case. Somewhat better results are obtainable if the assump-

tion is made that an object has at most one counterpart in any world.

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COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 329

Caesar. If that were so, however, Lewis's semantics would have the

consequence that Caesar and his death could have at most one

counterpart apiece in any world. On Lewis's account, a sentence of

the form 'EIRab' is true only if, in every world in which they both

have counterparts, every counterpart of a bears R to every counter-

part of b. Suppose in some possible world there were two counter-

parts of Caesar, living in opposite hemispheres of the globe. Each

might be related appropriately-by dying it-to some counterpart

of the death of Caesar, but neither could be related appropriately

to the other's death. Thus neither counterpart of the death of

Caesar is of all the counterparts of Caesar; so, if Lewis were right,

the death of Caesar could not be essentially of Caesar.

Note that this objection, unlike the earlier ones, does not concern

the formal logic of the modal language, but is rather to the effect

that a particular intuitively true (or, at least: intuitively not ob-

viously false) statement of the modal language comes out false on

Lewis's theory. The methodological status of the objection is per-

haps worth commenting on. Lewis's semantic theory, embodied in

his informal comments about similarity and counterparthood as

well as in the more formal material, has consequences for modal

logic broadly construed-for the entailment relations holding be-

tween de dicto and de re modal sentences-which go beyond what

can be extracted from his model theory for first-order modal logic.

In formulating the objection just given, we first note that according

to Lewis's theory there must be possible worlds verifying any de

dicto modal truth: in particular, there must be a world verifying

the intuitively plausible de dicto claim that there might have been

two soldier/politicians, living in widely separated countries, with

careers and characters closely resembling that of Caesar. We then,

guided not by any explicit definition of counterparthood in terms

of similarity but by our judgment as to what kind of similarities it

is plausible to think ought to contribute toward counterparthood,

draw the consequence that Caesar would probably, if Lewis were

right, have more than one counterpart in some possible world,

from which, together with the truism that a death is the death of

at most one person, follows the unacceptable de re conclusion that

Caesar's death could have occurred without being the death of

Caesar. The whole argument lacks the mathematical rigor of our

model-theoretic objections to Lewis, but it is, in its reliance on auxil-

iary hypotheses that may not be fully explicit, typical of the way in

which, in practice, "observational" consequences are drawn from

theories in semantics and in the natural sciences generally.

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330 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

admitted that whether or not there are internal relations is a ques-

tion that has exercised the metaphysicians for years, and that we

can hardly expect universal assent to our suggestions about the

essences of such event-tokens as deaths. So be it. Readers with

different opinions about internal relations are invited to construct

their own examples. At least when we turn from the logical or

metaphysical modalities to physical or causal ones, I think almost

everyone will admit that some relations hold unavoidably. Thus, in

the absence of a definition of counterparthood that will guarantee

unique counterparts, Lewis's theory fails to explain the truth of

some true modal assertions.

Returning to model theory, Lewis considers a language whose

only modal operators are the possibility and necessity operators.

It is clear, however, that something like an actuality operator is an

essential part of the conceptual mechanism of our ordinary modal

language.15 The failure of the counterpart relation to associate

unique representatives in other worlds with objects puts insuperable

difficulties in the way of a counterpart-theoretic interpretation of

an actuality operator. Suppose we tried to add a clause to Lewis's

schema for translating modal into counterpart-theoretic language

to cover formulas beginning with an actuality operator. If we

imitate Lewis's clause for the necessity operator and stipulate that

a possible object actually has a property just in case all its counter-

parts (or, all the things having it as a counterpart) in the actual

world have that property, we will get a sort of failure of excluded

middle-we will have to admit as satisfiable things like (using a

circle for the actuality operator)

which we might read as 'There could have been an object which,

though it actually exists, is neither actually F nor actually non-F'.

If, on the other hand, we follow Lewis's clause for possibility, and

require only that at least one counterpart (or converse counterpart)

in the actual world have the property, we get something at least

equally repellent:

or 'There could have been an object such that not only does it ac-

tually exist and is it actually F, but it is also actually non-F'.

15 Cf. my "Expressive Completeness in Modal Languages," Journal of Philo-

sophical Logic, v, 1 (Fall 1976): 25-46.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 331

III

What can (and what ought) to be done in the way of altering

Lewis's informal characterization of the counterpart relation? Fred

Feldmani16 has called attention to the consequences for Lewis's

position of what may be termed "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God"

cases. It is often tempting to think of two people that they could

(in some sense of 'could') have "exchanged places" in the world-

that in some sense it was accidental that Harry was a prince and

Tom a pauper rather than the other way around. But for the "ac-

cident of birth" each would have had the breaks the other actually

had and lived pretty much the life the other actually did live, and

in general had most of the properties the other actually did have.

But if we are to give a counterpart-theoretic account of the sense

of 'could' in which this is true, we must postulate a world in which

one of Tom's counterparts is more like Harry (more like what

Harry actually is) than he is like Tom, and in which one of Harry's

counterparts is more like Tom than he is like Harry. But this

Lewis explicitly forbids; for he requires of your counterparts, not

only that they must resemble you to at least some cut-off degree,

but that they must resemble you more closely than any other ob-

jects in their worlds resemble you. But in the world required by

the there-but-for-the-grace-of-Godexample, Tom's counterpart does

not resemble Tom more closely than anything else in the world

does-in particular, Tom's counterpart does not resemble Tom as

closely as Harry's counterpart does.

To accommodate the there-but-for-the-grace-of-Godexamples, we

simply drop Lewis's requirement that a counterpart resemble that

of which it is a counterpart more closely than does anything else

in its (the counterpart's) world. The new characterization of

counterparthood in terms of similarity is just that there is some

degree of similarity such that anything in another world resem-

bling you to that degree is one of your counterparts.'7 This revision

of our conception of counterparthood has two consequences for the

formal nature of the counterpart relation: first, the new conception

makes the supposition that the counterpart relation is symmetric

16 In "Counterparts," this JOURNAL, LXVIII, 13 (July 1, 1971): 4064-09.

17 If we also drop the stipulation that an object is not a counterpart of any-

thing other than itself in its own world-a restriction that demonstrably does

no work in the model theory, and has semantic consequences only on certain

theories of possible worlds-we can even say that what makes it true that Tom

and Harry could have had each other's lives is that there is a world-the actual

world-where Tom has a counterpart-Harry-with Harry's properties, and vice

versa.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

332 THE JOIJRNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

second, it makes it much less plausible to suppose that an object

will typically have a unique counterpart in most of the worlds in

which it has counterparts at all. Both of these consequences affect

formal modal logic (the effects of symmetry, however, will be some-

what recherche, involving iterated modalities), even though Feld-

man's objection, like that about internal relations, concerned truth

conditions for particular statements rather than for formal logic.

Interestingly, despite the notorious intransitivity of most sim-

ilarity relations, there is even a characterization of counterparthood,

for which there is some intuitive motivation, on which it comes out

to be an equivalence relation.'8 Suppose all objects-those in other

possible worlds as well as those in the actual world-to be parti-

tioned into kinds or sorts. Just how these sorts are to be defined,

and how many of them there will be, will vary with different senses

of possibility and necessity. Perhaps, for a very strict sense of logical

necessity, all individuals will be construed as belonging to the same

sort, and for certain kinds of causal modalities quite small differ-

ences in the physical structure of objects will be enough to put

them in different sorts. The counterparts of an object, in the sense

of counterparthood relevant to a given kind of modality, will be

all and only the possible objects belonging to its sort. Alice couldn't

reach the key on the glass table because she was too small, and she

couldn't crawl under the door to enter the garden because she was

too big. If the occurrences of 'could' here are to be given a counter-

part-theoretic treatment as possibility operators, the appropriate

counterpart relation will relate people to people of the same size.

Notice, however, what these various changes in the characteriza-

tion of counterparthood don't do. Many of the objections to Lewis's

theory turned on an object's having more than one counterpart,

and none of our suggested changes eliminate this possibility. In-

deed, on Lewis's original version there was some hope that multiple

counterparts would turn out to be the exception rather than the

rule, in which case we could avoid some of the objections by adding

the stipulation that nothing counts as a counterpart of an object if

it shares a world with something having an equally good claim to

being a counterpart of the same object. Our response to Feldman's

example, however, and even more our suggestion of basing counter-

parthood on a classification of objects into sorts, make unique

counterparts the exception. Nor is there a remedy readily available

18 Good news for those who like simple logics: this will get us all substitution

instances of theorems of S5.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 333

no plausible way of defining counterparthood in terms of some

kind of similarity will guarantee that an object will have at most

one counterpart in any given world.

In particular, one method of defining transworld identity that

has recently been popular will not' work. It has been suggested, with

variations of detail and with more or less hedging, that (to put it

in terms of counterparts) an object has counterparts only in worlds

whose histories, up to some time after the object has come into ex-

istence, are exactly like the history of the object's own world, and

that the unique counterpart of an object in such a world is the ob-

ject in that world that started its career in exactly the manner and

circumstances in which the object started its own. There are two

reasons for rejecting this kind of suggestion. For one thing, even if

it succeeded as an account of some sense of "metaphysical neces-

sity," 19 there are other kinds of modality it cannot handle. Any gen-

eral theory of de re modal assertions will have to account for the

likes of "He could have carried out his plans, had his ancestors not

squandered the family fortune." Secondly, it won't always give

unique counterparts. Imagine a (not quite deterministic) possible

world which, up to a certain moment of its history, is spatially

symmetrical, with the regions on the two sides of the plane of sym-

metry developing differently after that moment. Now consider an

object in such a world that comes into existence before the two sides

stop mirroring each other: in general it will have two counterparts

(or at least two objects beginning their careers in the same way it

began its career) in any world "branching off" from its world be-

tween the time it came into existence and the time its world ceased

to be symmetrical.

IV

What is needed is some way of choosing one of an object's counter-

parts in a world, to serve as its representative and, to avoid the

internal-relations problems, to make the choice of representative for

one object depend on the choice of representatives for other objects.

But how do you make the choice? There is no ground for choosing

one of an object's counterparts over another-this is what Kripke

means when he says he sees no reason to think that similarity be-

tween objects will provide a sufficient condition for transworld

identification. Well, set theory (the set-theoretic reification of a

choice being called a function) lets us have our cake and eat it too.

First choose representatives one way, and then another. Something

19 I have argued in my dissertation that this idea doesn't even capture Kripke's

intentions in his talk of metaphysical necessity.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

334 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

which counterparts you choose as representatives.

Oversimplifying a bit, we define a set of representative functions

from the domain of one world into that of another. A representative

function maps objects into counterparts of themselves, but, to allowv

for internal relations, not every function mapping counterparts into

counterparts will be a representative function. A representative

function that maps Caesar (an inhabitant of the actual world) into

Seezer rather than Kizer (Seezer and Kizer being counterparts of

Caesar in some world) must map the death of Caesar into the death

of Seezer rather than that of Kizer, and vice versa. This aspect of

the theory can perhaps be visualized more readily in terms of a

series of counterpart relations. In addition to the single-counterpart

relation (the counterpart relation in the sense of Lewis, relating

objects to similar objects), imagine a pair-counterpart relation,

relating ordered pairs of objects to similar ordered pairs, and so on.

Then a representative function f must not only meet the condition

that f(x), for any x for which f is defined, be a single-counterpart of x,

but also the condition that the ordered pair (f(x),f(y)) be a pair-

counterpart of the pair (x,y). With the class of representative func-

tions doing the work of the counterpart relation in Lewis's seman-

tics, we define de re modal locutions along the following lines: a

formula is necessarily true just in case, for every world and every

representative function into the domain of that world, the formula

is true in that world when each singular term in it is interpreted

as denoting the image under the function of the object it actually

denotes.

In a way, this semantic theory combines Lewis's approach with

some of Kripke's insights. In common with counterpart-theoretic

semantics, it defines de re modal notions in terms of some notion

which, though vague, is perhaps somewlhat more amenable to anal-

ysis than a primitive notion of transworld identification would be.

On the other hand, Kripke has said that possible worlds are "stipu-

lated" rather than discovered. The current theory allows us to ex-

plain, partially, what he meant. What takes the place, on this

theory, of the possible worlds of conventional possible-worlds seman-

tics, several of which could have the same inhabitants, are combina-

tions (ordered pairs, in a set-theoretic regimentation of the theory)

of worlds conceived of as fully specified "qualitatively," with stipu-

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 335

objects in other worlds.

ALLEN HAZEN

Trinity College, Dublin

structure comprises a set of worlds, with domains that may overlap, one

being singled out as the actual world. An n-adic predicate letter designates,

at any world, some set of n-tuples of objects from the domain of that

world; an individual constant denotes either something present in the

domain of the actual world or nothing at all; an assignment assigns to

each variable some object in the union of the domains of the worlds. An

atomic formula is true at a world and on an assignment just in case the

sequence of objects assigned to and denoted by its terms is one of the

tuples designated at the world by its predicate; any atomic formula, even

an identity, is false at a world if one or more of its terms fails to denote

(or be assigned) an object in the domain of that world. Trutlh-functional

composition has the usual results, and the truth values of quantifications

are defined in the usual way in terms of alternate assignments assigning

the variable of quantification some object in the domain of the world in

question. The result of prefixing a necessity (possibility, actuality) operator

to a formula is true at a world and on an assigniment just in case the

formula itself is true on that assignment at every (some, the actual) world.

A sentence is true in the model just in case it is true on every assignment

at the actual world.

Consider first (here comes the oversimplification) that fragment-we call

call it the first-degree fragment-of a first-order modal language consisting

of those formulas in which no modal operator other than an actuality

operator occurs within the scope of any other modal operator. This is

actually a fairly natural fragment, and perhaps the only part of first-order

modal logic with direct application in conceptual analysis and the semantic

representation of natural-language assertions. Certainly it is difficult to find

decent English sentences that can be construed as involving one modal

operator in the scope of anotlher and do not involve tensed modalities or

different kinds of modality (e.g., an alethic modality in the scope of an

epistemic one). (In philosophical usage one can find such claims as that

it is logically possible that a certain proposition be physically necessary,

etc., but then, philosophers do speak artificial dialects.)

A first-degree functional model comprises a set of worlds, with disjoint

domains, one being singled out as the actual world, and for each world

otlher than the actual, a set of (one-one, partial) functions from the doniain

of the actual world into its domain. Interpretations of predicates and in-

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

336 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

world is either the actual world or an ordered pair of a world and a

function from the domain of the actual world to its domain. Truth at a

stipulational world on an assignment is defined in the usual way (for

atomic formulas, truth-functional compounds, and quantified formulas)

if the world is the actual world, and in the usual way, but relative to a

reinterpretation of the individual constants assigning them the images, if

any, under the function, of their usual denotata, and an assignment as-

signing to each free variable not already assigned an object in the domain

of the world the image, if any, under the function, of the object it is

assigned by the original assignment. The result of prefixing an actuality

operator to a formula is true on an assignment at the actual world just

in case the original formula is, and at any other stipulational world just

in case the original formula is true at the actual world with its constants

and free variables appropriately reinterpreted in accordance with the in-

verse of the function. The result of prefixing a necessity (possibility)

operator to a formula is true at the actual world on an assignment if and

only if the original formula is true at every (at least one) stipulational

world on that assignment. (It's not as complicated as it sounds.)

The theorem: as far as the first-degree fragment of the first-order modal

language is concerned, the conventional and first-degree functional model

theories generate the same logic: the same set of valid sentences, and the

same sentences semantically entailed by any given set of sentences.

Proof: given a model of one kind it is easy to construct a model of the

other kind satisfying exactly the same sentences.

If we consider the full first-order modal language, the functional model

theory becomes much more complicated, to deal with sentences like:

We must now consider not only functions from the domain of the actual

world into the domains of other worlds, but functions from the unions of

the domains of arbitrary finite sets of worlds into the domain of some

world, and the analogue of a stipulational world is now a finite sequence

of worlds with a companion sequence of functions uniting the objects in

their domains.

The functions of such a sequence must then fulfill certain conditions

(intuitively, that they be consistent in what they "say" about what objects

in the domain of one world are "the same" as what objects in the domains

of others), and the whole set of functions in the model structure must

fulfill certain closure conditions. Dotting the i's and crossing the t's is

time-consuming, but in the end it can be proved that the logic generated

for the whole first-order modal language is the same as that generated

by the conventional model theory. The proof is tedious, but involves no

conceptual novelties; details may be found in my dissertation.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

COUNTERPART-THEORETIC SEMANTICS FOR MODAL LOGIC 337

Why, if it's all so complicated, bother? Well, there are at least two areas

where a functional model theory can, I think, provide illumination. It is

always possible to provide a functional model satisfying the same sentences

as a given conventional structure [very easily: replace the objects in the

domains of the worlds with ordered pairs (original object, world) to en-

sure that the worlds have disjoint domains, and allow as functions precisely

those which would, in terms of the original objects, have been identity

mappings]. In many cases, however, the functions of the new model struc-

ture will not be based on similarity in the way representative functions are

supposed to be - at least, not similarity with respect to the predicates

true of the objects in the different worlds. Suppose, now, that we have

formulated some condition of similarity-basedness on functional model

structures that partially embodies the idea that representative functions

ought to reflect similarities between objects in different worlds. (For ex-

ample, we might require that in a similarity-based structure any isomor-

phism, with regard to the extensions of the predicates, between the do-

mains of two worlds should be a representative function.) Then we can

define a class of theories which, though consistent-satisfiable in some

functional model structure-are incoherent-they are not satisfiable in a

similarity-based model structure interpreting just the predicates appearing

in the theory. The sort of incoherence involved can perhaps be best il-

lustrated with an example from nonmodal logic. Consider a definition

of identity in terms of the descriptive predicates of a language with a

finite set of descriptive predicates. The negation of any such definition is

a consistent formula of predicate logic; but one might well hold that if

the stock of descriptive predicates involved included all those used in your

total theory of the world, it would be incoherent of you to reject the

definition of identity in terms of them.20 The notion that representative

functions should be based on similarities, where the relevant similarities

are those defined in terms of the structures defined over the domains of

the different worlds by the predicates of our language, allows us to formu-

late broadly logical constraints on acceptable theories of the essences of

things, much as the definition of identity in terms of descriptive predicates

allows us to formulate a constraint on an acceptable theory of identity.

The otlher area where the functional approach may be more illumi-

nating than the conventional possible-worlds semantics concerns non-

denoting singular terms. Notice that, as I have specified the model theories,

no name not denoting an object in the domain of the actual world de-

notes anything at all:

3x a = xD C-

3x a = x

is valid. It would be very easy to add constants denoting unactualized pos-

sibilia to the language, if we thought solely in terms of the conventional

20 Cf. W. V. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1960),

sec. 47.

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

338 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

for formulas containing such terms within the functional model theory.

I regardthis not as a conceptualweaknessof my approachbut as a positive

strength, for there are grave difficultieswith the notion of naming the

nonexistent. The argumentsKripke gives in the addendum to "Naming

and Necessity"against construing 'SherlockHolmes' as the name of an

unactualizedpossibile correspondexactly to the difficultiesthat must be

overcome if constants denoting possible beings are to be accommodated

within the frameworkof the functional model theory. I take this as an

indication that my formal approachreflectsthe conceptual situation more

accuratelythan does the conventionalpossible-worldsapproach.

AH

BOOK REVIEWS

Press, 1977. xv, 315 p. $18.00.

Systematic philosophy is no longer dead. In a series of books, most

especially a trilogy 1 which includes the subject of this review as a

member, Nicholas Rescher makes a self-confessed attempt to re-

vitalize philosophical system building. The two earlier essays in-

troduced the metaphysical elements of his system and sketched in

the leading elements of a corresponding epistemology and its justi-

fication. Methodological Pragmatism continues (and perhaps roughly

finishes) this latter task. Although Rescher's project might sound

old-fashioned in style, its content on the other hand is completely

modern.

Rescher calls his system "pragmatic idealism." In its epistemolog-

ical elements, his position "recognizes the shaping of our knowledge

as subject to mind-external constraints, but takes these constraints

to manifest themselves wholly or predominantly on the side of

praxis" (xiv). The role of methodological pragmatism is to reveal

how praxis works against the metaphysical constraints. Although

this review is obviously neither the time nor the place to go into

Rescher's conceptualistic metaphysics, a metaphysics of fundamen-

tally mind-involved objectivity, let me at least mention that the

present book is consistent with-indeed necessitated by-the meta-

physical viewpoint developed in Conceptual Idealism.

1 Conceptual Idealism (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1973); Primacy of Practice

(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1973); and the book under review.

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