Structures and circumstances: Two ways to fine-grain propositions

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This paper discusses two distinct strategies that have been adopted to provide fine-grained propositions; that is, propositions individuated more finely than sets of possible worlds. One strategy takes propositions to have internal structure, while the other looks beyond possible worlds, and takes propositions to be sets of circumstances, where possible worlds do not exhaust the circumstances. The usual arguments for these positions turn on fineness-of-grain issues: just how finely should propositions be individuated? Here, I compare the two strategies with an eye to the fineness-of-grain question, arguing that when a wide enough range of data is considered, we can see that a circumstance-based approach, properly spelled out, outperforms a structure-based approach in answering the question. (Part of this argument involves spelling out what I take to be a reasonable circumstance-based approach.) An argument to the contrary, due to Soames, is also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-118
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumstantialism
  • Impossible worlds
  • Propositions

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