Sunday, October 18, 2009

Possible Girls

Neil Sinhababu's paper Possible Girls may be one of the most interesting things ever published by a respectable philosophical journal. Sinhababu told me about it in conversation at the reception after he spoke at the University of Miami last semester, but I didn't get a chance to read it until last week.

Here's his claim:

Given Lewissian "genuine modal realism," it's possible for him to enter into a long-distance relationship with a girl who lives in a different possible world.

You read that right.

Moreover, using the awe-inspiring power of Pure Reason, Sinhababu demonstrates:

(a) that it's actually possible to exchange love letters across different possible worlds, despite the impossibility of causal interactions between them (read the paper to find out how this can be done!),
(b) that if you expand the Lewissian picture to include concrete impossibilia, we have good reason to think that the girls who live in the impossible worlds have tentacles, and
(c) that his likely otherworldly girlfriend would be "immortal, with eternally youthful beauty, spending each day singing out every fact about my world that differs from hers."

But...wait...isn't this image kind of sad? Aren't you worried that the otherworldy goddess wasting her eternal life by singing out her love for Sinhababu (and, trust me, he has specific, well-worked out reasons for thinking that she's doing so) is going to be horribly crushed if he finds a girlfriend in the actual world? Wouldn't it, then, be cruel for him to dump her for said actual girlfriend? And shouldn't her friends try to talk her out of wasting her life in this way in any case?

Not to worry. All of these concerns are put to rest in the paper.

Still not convinced that this is a paper you need to read? Well, I submit for your approval the single most excellent endnote in the entire history of academic papers on any subject whatsoever:

"6 I thank Dan Korman for raising this issue, and Ted Sider for informing me about the sexual possibilities offered by paraconsistent logic. "

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