The End of Counterpart Theory
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 100, No. 10 (Oct., 2003), pp. 521-549
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Counterpart theory says roughly that, for any object O and any property F, O is possibly F if and only if O has a counterpart that is F. Moreover, O is essentially F if and only if all of O's counterparts are F. According to David Lewis, the theory's leading advocate, our counterparts are typically a lot like us. Lewis holds that I am possibly forty feet tall if and only if there is someone in a universe spatiotemporally isolated from ours – one of Lewis's "possible worlds" – who, though otherwise appropriately like me, is forty feet tall.
  2. Many find counterpart theory attractive, but most reject Lewis's modal1 realism. So most deny that we have flesh-and-blood counter-parts in unreachable but humanly inhabited universes. They insist, instead, that our counterparts are somehow "abstract." It is that sort of counterpart theory – the sort endorsed by virtually every counterpart theorist except for Lewis himself – that I shall argue is untenable. (Indeed, as we shall see, there are good reasons to reject any reduction of modal2 properties to abstract worlds, counterpart-theoretic or other- wise.) Because I do not believe Lewis's ontology, I think his version of counterpart theory is also mistaken. And so – I conclude – we should reject every sort of counterpart theory.

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