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counterpart theory

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


M etaphysics A theory that can be traced to Leibniz , but has recently been developed by D. Lewis to cope with the problem of trans-world identity . For Lewis, an individual can exist only in one of the plurality of possible worlds , because a thing can only be in one place at a time. There is nothing that inhabits more than one world. Hence, individuals are worldbound, and there are no identical individuals in different worlds. How, then, are we to analyze what is possible or impossible for a worldbound individual? Lewis claims that individuals have counterparts in other worlds. Even though they are not identical with their actual-world counterparts, they resemble them more closely than do other things in their worlds. They are such that for anything X in the actual world W, its counterpart X-in-W n is just as X-in-W would have been, had things been different in the way things are different between W and W n . Trans-world resemblance is the counterpart relation, and is a substitute for transworld identity. “In general, something has for counterparts at a given world those things existing there that resemble it closely enough in important respects of intrinsic quality and extrinsic relations, and that resemble it no less closely than do other things existing there.” D. Lewis, Counterfactuals ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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