Impossibility without impossibilia

Bjørn Jespersen

Circumstantialists already have a logical semantics for impossibilities. They expand their logical space of possible worlds by adding impossible worlds. These are impossible circumstances serving as indices of evaluation, at which impossibilities are true. A variant of circumstantialism, namely modal Meinongianism, adds impossible objects as well. The opposite of circumstantialism, namely structuralism, has some catching-up to do. What might a structuralist logical semantics without impossible worlds or impossible objects look like? This paper makes a structuralist counterproposal. I present a semantics based on a procedural interpretation of the typed l-calculus. The fundamental idea is that talk about impossibilities should be construed in terms of procedures yielding as their product a condition that could not possibly have a satisfier, or else failing to yield a product at all. Dispensing with a ‘bottom’ of impossibilia requires instead a ‘top’ consisting of structured hyperintensions, intensions, intensions defining other intensions, a typed universe, and dual predication. I explain how the theory works by going through a couple of cases.