Counterpart Theory - Differences From The Kripkean View

Differences From The Kripkean View

Counterpart theory (hereafter "CT"), as formulated by Lewis, requires that individuals exist in only one world. The standard account of possible worlds assumes that a modal statement about an individual (e.g., "it is possible that x is y") means that there is a possible world, W, where the individual x has the property y; in this case there is only one individual, x, at issue. On the contrary, counterpart theory supposes that this statement is really saying that there is a possible world, W, wherein exists an individual that is not x itself, but rather a distinct individual 'x' different from but nonetheless similar to x. So, when I state that I might have been a banker (rather than a philosopher) according to counterpart theory I am saying not that I exist in another possible world where I am a banker, but rather my counterpart does. Nevertheless, this statement about my counterpart is still held to ground the truth of the statement that I might have been a banker. The requirement that any individual exist in only one world is to avoid what Lewis termed the "problem of accidental intrinsics" which (he held) would require a single individual to both have and simultaneously not have particular properties.

In its formalization, counterpart theoretic formalization of modal discourse also departs from the standard formulation by eschewing use of modality operators (Necessarily, Possibly) in favor of quantifiers that range over worlds and 'counterparts' of individuals in those worlds. Lewis put forth a set of primitive predicates and a number of axioms governing CT and a scheme for translating standard modal claims in the language of quantified modal logic into his CT.

In addition to interpreting modal claims about objects and possible worlds, CT can also be applied to the identity of a single object at different points in time. The view that an object can retain its identity over time is often called Endurantism, and it claims that objects are ‘wholly present’ at different moments (see the counterpart relation, below). An opposing view is that any object in time is made up of temporal parts or is perduring.

David Lewis' view on possible worlds is sometimes called modal realism.

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