By Benedikt Paul Göcke (auth.)
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2 Possible worlds as maximal states of affairs There is a clear modal restriction on the states of affairs which constitute any possible world, and so the actual world. e. not a merely contingent fact) that in the actual world there are no two states of affairs the obtaining of each of which contradicts the other. The states of affairs that constitute a possible world have to obey certain rules of consistency. Let us express these rules in terms of inclusion and exclusion. According to Plantinga, ‘a state of affairs S includes a state of affairs S’ if it is not possible that S obtain and S’ fail to obtain [and] a state of affairs S precludes a state of affairs S’ if it is not possible that both obtain’ (Plantinga 1982: 44).
This in turn is because it is difficult to express the ‘extra’ (or ‘more of’ being or existence) which is given by the obtaining of a state of affairs in contrast to and ‘over and above’ what is given in by the non-obtaining of a state of affairs. The difference between obtaining and non-obtaining states of affairs cannot be that we cannot think about non-obtaining states of affairs. I think about the non-actual tree with four branches as well as the actual tree with three branches. The reason this is possible is that, insofar as they are both objects of the understanding, obtaining and non-obtaining states of affairs are both accessed under a particular conceptual grasp that does not differentiate between the actual and the merely possible existence of the particular in question.
Can the ontology that we have developed account for nomological possibility? Nomological possibilities are possibilities according to certain laws of nature. Now, given that there are laws of nature in the actual world, the ontology of possible worlds developed so far can account for nomological possibility in the following way. If L is a law of nature in the actual world which science has discovered and N is a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for L being a law of nature in the actual world, then precisely those possible worlds are nomologically possible which satisfy N such that L is valid in them.