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Hyperintensionality and Impossible Worlds: An Introduction

David Chalmers

One Guiding Idea


Intensionality as Hyperintensionality :: Impossible Worlds :: Possible Worlds

E tension

!he e tension o" a singular term is its re"erent

E tension o" #$arac% Obama& is $arac% Obama

!he e tension o" a general term is a class

E tension o" #philosopher& is the class o" philosophers

!he e tension o" a predicate is a class or a property

E tension o" #red& is the class o" red things' or the property o" redness(

And so on(

E tensionality

E tensionality theses: E tensional meaning: !he meaning o" an e pression is its e tension(

)eaning o" #$arac% Obama& is $arac% Obama

E tensional compositionality: !he truth*value o" a sentence is determined by the e tensions o" its parts(

#$arac% Obama is George $ush&: true i"" the e tension o" #$arac% Obama& is the e tension o" #George $ush&

Intensionality

Challenges to e tensionality theses: Intensional )eaning: Coe tensive e pressions have intuitively di""erent meanings' +ith di""erent cognitive signi"icance #!he )orning ,tar&' #!he Evening ,tar& -rege: #!he ), is the E,& is cognitively signi"icant Intensional Compositionality: ,ubstituting coe tensive e pressions can change truth*value #It is possible that the ), is not the E,&: true #It is possible that the E, is not the E,&: "alse

#It is possible that.& is an intensional context(

,trategy /: Intensions

,trategy /: )eaning isn&t an e tension but an intension Carnap: !he intension o" an e pression is a "unction "rom possible +orlds to e tensions

Intension o" #the morning star& pic%s out the morning star in all +orlds

#!he morning star& and #!he evening star& have same e tension' di""erent intension !ruth*value o" a sentence 0+ith an intensional conte t1 is determined by the intensions o" its parts

#It is possible that the ), isn&t the E,& is true because there&s a +orld +here the intension o" #the ), isn&t the E,& is true(

,trategy 2: ,tructure

,trategy 2: Appeal to internal structure in these e pressions E(g( 3ussell: #the morning star is -& is e4uivalent to #there e ists a uni4ue star visible in the morning and it is -&

!hen #the morning star& and #the evening star& +ill be associated +ith di""erent structures !he truth*value o" a sentence may still be determined by the e tensions o" its parts(

5o need "or possible +orlds and intensions: structure plus e tension can do the +or%(

,trategy 6: Denial

,trategy 6: Deny the di""erence in meaning E(g( 7rip%e 0"or names' although not descriptions1

#Hesperus& and #Phosphorus& have the same meaning #It is possible that Hesperus is not Phosphorus& is "alse( !he cognitive di""erence is not a di""erence in meaning(

,o again' e tension 0plus structure1 does the 8ob(

Hyperintensionality

Hyperintensional )eaning: Cointensive e pressions 0necessarily e4uivalent' same intension1 have intuitively di""erent meanings(

#Hesperus&' #Phosphorus& 0post*7rip%e1 #99:;;&' #/2/&

Hyperintensional Composition: ,ubstituting cointensive e pressions can change truth*values


#It is a priori that H<H& vs #It is a priori that H<P& #=ohn believes that 99:;;</2/& vs #=ohn believes that /2/</2/&

#It is a priori that.&' #=ohn believes that.& are hyperintensional contexts

Wea% and ,trong Hyperintensionality

,ay that t+o e pressions are +ea%ly cointensive i" they are necessarily e4uivalent but not a priori e4uivalent

E(g( #Hesperus& and #Phosphorus& #Water& and #H2O&

!+o e pressions are strongly cointensive i" they are necessarily e4uivalent and a priori e4uivalent

E(g( #99:;;& and #/2/&' #A or $& and #not0not*A and not*$1&(

!hese yield corresponding phenomena

+ea% hyperintensionality: di""erence in meaning>composition bet+een +ea%ly cointensive e pressions strong hyperintensionality: di""erence In meaning>composition bet+een strongly cointensive e pressions

Wea% Hyperintensionality

Wea%ly hyperintensional cognitive signi"icance


#Hesperus < Phosphorus& is cognitively signi"icant #Water < H2O&

Wea%ly hyperintensional "ailures o" intensional compositionality


#It is a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus& #It is a priori that +ater is H2O&

#It is a priori that.& is a +ea%ly hyperintensional conte t 0although not a strongly hyperintensional conte t1(

,trategy /: Impossible Worlds

,trategy /: Introduce ?impossible@ +orlds +here +ater is not H2O' +here Hesperus is not Phosphorus' and so on( !his is the strategy o" ?t+o*space@ t+o*dimensionalism: a space o" epistemically possible +orlds 0scenarios1' and a distinct space o" metaphysically possible +orlds( #Water is H2O& is true at all metaphysically possible +orlds' but "alse at some epistemically possible +orlds

#Water& and #H2O& have di""erent epistemic intensions #It is a priori that.& operates on epistemic intensions(

,trategy 2: 3einterpret Possible Worlds

,trategy 2: -ind a ne+ +ay o" evaluating sentences at possible +orlds so that #Water is H2O& and #Hesperus is Phosphorus& are "alse 0under this evaluation1 at some possible +orlds( !his is the strategy o" ?one*space@ t+o*dimensionalism: a single space o" possible +orlds 0+ith or +ithout centers1' +here sentences are associated +ith t+o di""erent intensions over these +orlds( !he secondary intension o" #Water is H2O& is true at all possible +orlds' but the primary intension is "alse at some possible +orlds(

#Water& and #H2O& have di""erent primary intensions #It is a priori that.& operates on primary intensions(

,trategy 6: Appeal to ,tructure

,trategy 6: -ind some relevant di""erence in the internal structure o" 0the logical "orm o"1 #Hesperus& and #Phosphorus&' or #+ater& and #H2O&( E(g( the descriptivist about names:

#Hesperus& < #the morning star&' #Phosphorus& < #the evening star&

,trategy ;: Denial

,trategy ;: Deny that there is any +ea% hyperintensionality o" meaning 0c"( direct re"erence theorists1 !he di""erence in cognitive signi"icance bet+een #Hesperus& and #Phosphorus& is not a semantic di""erence #It is a priori that.& is not a +ea%ly hyperintensional conte t

E(g( #It is a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus& is true(

,trong Hyperintensionality

,trongly hyperintensional cognitive signi"icance


#;;:99 < /2/& is cognitively signi"icant 0although a priori1 #0A or $1 i"" 0not0not*A and not*$11& is cognitively signi"icant 0although a priori1

,trongly hyperintensional "ailures o" intensional compositionality


#=ohn believes that /2/</2/& #=ohn believes that ;;:99</2/&

5($( !+o*dimensionalism alone doesn&t help here' as a priori e4uivalent e pressions have the same primary>epistemic intensions #=ohn believes that.& is a strongly hyperintensional conte t(

,trategy /: Impossible Worlds

5atural suggestion: !here are impossible +orlds 0or scenarios1 +here


#;;:99</2/& is "alse #0A or $1 i"" 0not0not*A and not*$11& is "alse

E pressions can be associated +ith hyperintensions: "unctions "rom possible and impossible +orlds to e tensions(

#;;:99& and #/2/& have the same intension' the same primary>epistemic intension' but di""erent hyperintensions( A priori truths are cognitively signi"icant because they have nontrivial hyperintensionsA ,trongly hyperintensional operators such as #=ohn believes that& operate on hyperintensions(

,trongly hyperintensional cognitive signi"icance #;;:99 < /2/& is cognitively signi"icant 0although a priori1 #0A or $1 i"" 0not0not*A and not*$11& is cognitively signi"icant 0although a priori1

What are Impossible Worlds

B: What are impossible +orldsA Ho+ can +e construct themA Possible +orlds: ma imal compossible sets o" sentences 0Ideal1 epistemically possible scenarios: ma imal a priori consistent sets o" sentences( Ho+ do +e rela this "or non*ideal epistemically possible scenariosA ,ee $8erring' $rogaard>,alerno' =ago' ,cha""er' .

/( Anything*Goes Worlds

One avenue: !here are no substantive constraints on impossible +orlds( E(g( there are possible +orlds +here arbitrary contradictions are true(

E(g( Priest&s open +orlds' +hich are arbitrary sets o" sentences( A sentence is true at an open +orld i" it is in the set(

Problem: !he hyperintension o" every sentence +ill be trivial


It +ill be the set o" sets o" sentences that contain , !hese hyperintensions are insensitive to meaning o" , ,o they have no more structure>in"o than sentences ,o hyperintensions over open +orlds aren&t a use"ul notion o" meaning

2( 5ontrivial Impossible Worlds

Another avenue: !here are substantive constraints on impossible +orlds( E(g( trivially "alse contradictions are ruled out( $8erring: start +ith a non*normal but nontrivial modal operator

E(g( provable*in*n*steps 0a strati"ied set o" operators1 Cse this to construct a space o" +orlds 0strati"ied spaces o" +orlds1

Problem: Depending on ho+ the construction +or%s' it threatens to yield either


too many +orlds 0almost*anything*goes +orlds1D or not enough +orlds 0no +orlds +here logical truths are "alse1

!he +orry seems to arise "or most versions o" nontrivial impossible +orlds( $8erring&s challenge: "ind a construction that avoids this dilemma(

,trategy 2: 3einterpret Possible Worlds

,trategy 2: -ind a ne+ +ay o" evaluating sentences at possible +orlds so that #Water is H2O& and #Hesperus is Phosphorus& are "alse 0under this evaluation1 at some possible +orlds( E(g( ,talna%er: the diagonal proposition o" #Water is H2O& is the set o" +orlds +here #+ater is H2O& 0as uttered in that +orld1 is true

-alse at some +orlds' +here language is di""erent

,o #+ater& and #H2O& have di""erent diagonal intensions(

Problems

Problems "or ,talna%er&s metalinguistic strategy

Diagonal intensions ignore meaning and have no more interesting structure then sentences !hey treat nontrivial impossibilities and trivial impossibilities 8ust the same( !hey don&t seem to capture +hat +e are entertaining +hen +e +onder about the truth o" some mathematical theorem

B: Any other version o" a reinterpreting*possible*+orlds strategyA 0,ch+arEA1

,trategy 6: Appeal to ,tructure

,trategy 6: -ind internal structure in strongly cointensive e pressions: e(g( #;;:99& and #/2/& have di""erent structure

3epresent these as structured intensions 0Cress+ell1(

2D version o" this strategy: sentences are associated +ith structured primary intensions 0or: enriched intensions1

E(g( #Hesperus is Hesperus&' #Hesperus is Phosphorus&: same structure' di""erent basic intensions #;;:99&' #/2/&: di""erent structures

One can argue that something li%e these structured intensions yield an ade4uate treatment o" attitude ascriptions and other strongly hyperintensional conte ts(

Problem

Problem: !his +ill only +or% i" there are no pairs o" simple e pressions +ith the same 0primary1 intension but cognitive>compositional di""erences(

I" there are' then structure +on&t help(

Are thereA 5ot obvious(

)aybe the best case involve "iction>legend names +ith primary intensions that have no re"erent at any scenario(

Also: Even i" this +or%s' it +ould be very nice to have impossible +orlds "or various e planatory purposes' e(g( the analysis o" epistemic possibility(

,trategy ;: Denial

,trategy ;: Denial o" strong hyperintensionality

,trongly hyperintensional di""erences in cognitive signi"icance are psychological di""erences' not semantic di""erences !here are no strongly hyperintensional conte ts 0so #Fois %no+s that ,uperman is Clar% 7ent& is true1(

,trategy G: In"erentialism

,trategy G: !here is a semantic di""erence bet+een strongly cointensive e pressions' but this isn&t best represented using intensions and e tensions(

Instead' it&s a di""erence in in"erential role 03estall1

,trategy H: Properties o" E pressions

,trategy H: !here is a di""erence bet+een strongly cointensive e pressions' but this isn&t best represented using intensions and e tensions(

Instead' it&s a di""erence in ?properties o" e pressions@ 0$igelo+1

Other Perspectives

One can also approach these issues "rom the perspective o"

)odal logic 07rip%e*style semantics "or non*normal modal operators1 Epistemology and epistemic logic 0Hinti%%a*style analysis o" non* ideal epistemic possibility1 Philosophy o" mind>cognition 0ma%ing sense o" rational processes in non*ideal agents1 )etaphysics 0analyEing the coherence and nature o" impossible +orlds1

On+ard

On+ard into the impossible.