The Empty World as the Null Conjunction of States of Affairs

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


If possible worlds are conjunctions of states of affairs, as in David Armstrong’s combinatorial theory, then is the empty world to be thought of as the null conjunction of states of affairs? The proposal seems plausible, and has received support from David Efird, Tom Stoneham, and Armstrong himself. However, in this paper, it is argued that the proposal faces a trilemma: either it leads to the absurd conclusion that the actual world is empty; or it reduces to a familiar representation of the empty world in which the concept of a null conjunction plays no role; or it needs to make room for the null individual of certain non-classical mereologies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Early online date2 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This paper was read by four anonymous referees for this journal, three of whom provided comments that were helpful in revising earlier drafts. At an earlier stage, I also received helpful comments from Ethan Brauer, Leon Horsten, and Dan Marshall.

Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


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