Explicit Intensionalization, Anti-Actualism, and How Smith's Murderer Might Not Have Murdered Smith
Jespersen (Bjorn)
Source: Dialectica, 59.3, September 2005, pp. 285-314(30)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. The purpose of this article is to provide a non-contradictory interpretation of sentences such as “Smith's murderer might not have murdered Smith”.
  2. An anti-actualist, two-dimensional framework including partial functions provides the basis for my solution. I argue for two claims.
    1. The modal1 profile of the proposition (truth-condition) expressed by “The F might not have been an F” (wher “F” is an empirical predicate) is complex: at any world where there is a unique F the proposition is true; at any world without a unique F the proposition has no truth-value; hence, at no world is it false. It remains an open semantic and epistemological question which of the first two kinds of world the actual world is.
    2. The semantic method should be based on explicit intensionalization in lieu of actualism. Actualism accords a privileged role to the actual world. Explicit intensionalization places all possible worlds, including the actual one, on an equal footing. Syntactically, a lambda-bound world variable replaces the (explicit or implicit) actual-world constant or operator, while the other world variable is existentially bound.

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