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Possible worlds and ideology

Constant, Thomas 2017. Possible worlds and ideology. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The broad aim of this thesis is to explore fruitful connections between ideology theory and the philosophy of possible worlds (PW). Ideologies are full of modal concepts, such as possibility, potential, necessity, essence, contingency and accident. Typically, PWs are articulated for the analysis and illumination of modal concepts. That naturally suggests a method for theorising ideological modality, utilising PW theory. The specific conclusions of the thesis proffer a number of original contributions to knowledge: 1) PWs should only be used for explication and not as (intrinsic) evidence or criteria of assessment in ideology theory. The estimation of (e.g.) utopian possibilities, human essences and freedoms must be determined by extrinsic criteria. PWs can serve only as a window or means of expression but not as a set of evaluative premises. 2) For this purpose, a modified version of Lewisian genuine realism (GR), with its device of counterpart theory, is the best approach; the alternative theories risk constricting possibilities or smuggling in assumptions that ought to be objects of analysis in ideology theory. This is instructive, since ideology theorists are prone to pick and choose favoured aspects of modal philosophy without further argument. 3) Conclusions (1) and (2) suggest the adoption of GR or fictionalist GR. Overall, the actualist options are less adequate. Fictionalism, by contrast, is a worthwhile contender, but it too presents comparative weaknesses which reinforce GR’s standing as a potent challenger to the modal metaphysician. Therefore, this thesis presents additional reasons (to Lewis’s) to think GR true. The conclusions are not knockdown, and I draw out incentives and consequences for adopting alternative stances. The various chapters also provide specific details for comprehending and debating ideological modals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 December 2017
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2019 02:30

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