Something is bothering me at the boundary of physics and metaphysics. It seems very likely that a successful theory of quantum gravity will entail that our actual universe is finite. This follows from two considerations. First, in the new theory, the singularities of general relativity will be banished, and the universe will be seen to be grained at the Planck scale. Second, it seems to me that the observable universe can be identified with the actual universe: in what sense should we consider a putative region of the universe beyond the reach of any possible causal contact to be actual? So, it follows that the actual universe is finite.
Now in reading metaphysical papers recently by Ross Cameron and Jonathan Schaffer, (see posts here and here), I was introduced to the argument for the conceivability of “gunk”. Gunk is stuff every part of which has proper parts -- that is, it is infinitely divisible. Now is a world made of gunk conceivable? It seems so. Now, since I have embraced the general stance that conceivability implies possibility, I would have to concede that if the actual world is finite, this is a contingent rather than necessary fact about the world.
For some reason, this just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like thinking that something as fundamental as the conclusion that our world is finite in extent is just a contingent fact. But given that we are (famously) adept at conceiving infinities, and the strength of my opinion regarding the modal rationalist link between conceivability and possibility, I’m stuck.
The only strategy which I think might work is as follows. I could assert that the conceivability of infinity is grounded by the whole space of possible worlds, and its application to a single possible world is a mistake. The gunky world would itself have to comprise all possible worlds by virtue of its infinite extent. It would itself necessarily constitute the entire modal space, so it couldn’t also be one of the constituents of modal space. Individual possible worlds themselves would be necessarily finite in this scheme.