Conceivability as a Guide to Possibility Analytical Essay by scribbler

Conceivability as a Guide to Possibility
A review of Professor David J. Chalmer's philosophy on whether conceivability necessarily entails natural possibility.
# 153086 | 1,536 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 02, 2013 in Philosophy (Metaphysics)

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The paper reviews the article entitled, "Does Conceivability Entail Possibility" where Professor David J. Chalmers examines the argument that to conceive of something necessarily entails its possibility. The paper goes on to analyze three arguments that support the notion of conceivability as entailing possibility to some degree, and finds that what Chalmers seems to suggest---and this author agrees with him---is that it is only ideal-primary-positive conceivability that necessarily entails natural possibility. The author, however, notes that metaphysical conjectures are not worthless and still contain philosophical or religious value, and, types of conceivability other than ideal-primary-positive are also useful in considering the physical laws that govern beings other than oneself, to include but not limited to other life forms.

From the Paper:

"Prima facie conceivability occurs when S is conceivable upon first appearance, or when there are no apparent contradictions to S. For example, it is prima facie conceivable that a table is made of wood if---at first glance---nothing apparently suggests otherwise. In order for S to be ideally conceivable, however, S has to pass certain tests that support it's conceivability. In the case of the table, for example, one would have to further examine the table and still believe it to be made of wood for it to be ideally conceivable that it is made of wood. Obviously, ideal conceivability is superior to prima facie conceivability as a guide to possibility because it requires evidential support. In either case, it is the role of conceivability to verify possibility, and the role of possibility to suggest necessity.
"Negative conceivability occurs when S cannot be ruled out, such as in the case of a list of suspects for a particular crime. Did Jane steal the cookie? Since Jane was in the house at the time the cookie was stolen, the statement that Jane stole the cookie cannot be ruled out, therefore it is negatively conceivable---and also negatively possible---that Jane is guilty. On the other hand, the statement that Jane stole the cookie is positively conceivable only if we can conceive of a situation in which this would be true."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Chalmers, D. J. "Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?". Gendler, T. and Hawthorne, J. (eds). University of Arizona. 2002. Accessed 19 December, 2010 from <>
  • Nagel, T. "What is it like to be a bat?" Philosophical Review 83 (1974): 435-50.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

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Conceivability as a Guide to Possibility (2013, May 02) Retrieved March 30, 2020, from

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"Conceivability as a Guide to Possibility" 02 May 2013. Web. 30 March. 2020. <>