Granularity problems

Jens Christian Bjerring, Wolfgang Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Possible-worlds accounts of mental or linguistic content are often criticized for being too coarse-grained. To make room for more fine-grained distinctions among contents, several authors have recently proposed extending the space of possible worlds by ‘impossible worlds’. We argue that this strategy comes with serious costs: we would effectively have to abandon most of the features that make the possible-worlds framework attractive. More generally, we argue that while there are intuitive and theoretical considerations against overly coarse-grained notions of content, the same kinds of considerations also prohibit an overly fine-grained individuation of content. An adequate notion of content, it seems, should have intermediate granularity. However, it is hard to construe a notion of content that meets these demands. Any notion of content, we suggest, must be either implausibly coarse-grained or implausibly fine-grained (or both).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number266
Early online date4 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • possible-worlds semantics
  • impossible worlds
  • hyperintensionality
  • content
  • meaning
  • proposition


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