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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N008-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

People are often puzzled about the apparent contingency of the world. To say that something happens contingently is to say that it might not have happened, and to think of the world as contingent is to think that it might not have existed. Is it contingent? Those who ask this are asking whether there might not have been a world at all, or none that was at all like ours. Usually they are not asking whether there could have been a world which differed from ours only in its details: for example, one in which free agents made slightly different choices. That is an important question too, but a separate one. Some people reject the question of the contingency of the world as meaningless because they do not see how any answer to it could be verified. But such verificationism is controversial, and even if there is something wrong with the question it is still worth asking why people find it compelling.

Citing this article:
Walker, Ralph C.S.. Contingency, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N008-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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