Prior’s concept of possible worlds: Clasp between Wittgenstein and Warsaw´s School

Zuzana Rybaříková


Arthur Prior was one of the logicians who participated in the invention of the possible worlds’ semantics. The ontology, which is connected with his systems of modal logic, is unique. Prior tried to reduce the number of abstract entities as much as possible. Hence he did not elect to introduce possible worlds and possibilia into his ontology. In addition, he held a reductionist view, which is called modal actualism by Fine or modalism by Melia. Prior was inspired by various authors but this paper mainly discusses the influence of two prominent sources, Wittgenstein and logicians from Warsaw School. Prior acknowledged Wittgenstein’s influence, when he discuss the view that possible worlds consist of propositions. The second important feature of Prior’s concept is the denial of the real existence of possible worlds and the denial of the existence of entities which are in them. It was probably enabled by Prior’s adoption of some systems of logic invented by logicians from Warsaw school, especially Leśniewski’s and Łukasiewicz’s systems.


Arthur Prior, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stanisław Leśniewski, Jan Łukasiewicz, modal logic, possible worlds

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