Granularity problems

Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266):22-37 (2017)
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Possible-worlds accounts of mental or linguistic content are often criticized for being too coarse-grained. To make room for more fine-grained distinctions among contents, several authors have recently proposed extending the space of possible worlds by "impossible worlds". We argue that this strategy comes with serious costs: we would effectively have to abandon most of the features that make the possible-worlds framework attractive. More generally, we argue that while there are intuitive and theoretical considerations against overly coarse-grained notions of content, the same kinds of considerations also prohibit an overly fine-grained individuation of content. An adequate notion of content, it seems, should have intermediate granularity. However, it is hard to construe a notion of content that meets these demands. Any notion of content, we suggest, must be either implausibly coarse-grained or implausibly fine-grained (or both).

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Author Profiles

Wolfgang Schwarz
University of Edinburgh

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