Note: this is a navel-gazing post with no external links.
I'm thinking again about my modal realism and the status of the actual vs. the rest of the possibilities. I summarized in a prior post (Actual as Indexical, After All?) my conclusion that, while my metaphysical model is very different from that of David Lewis, his idea that what it is actual is just what is local to a point of view made sense. This implies that our actual world is not the result of a special creative outcome, and that we should probably assume that all metaphysical possibilities are actualized "somewhere" in modal space. I saw this as just an extension of the Copernican trend familiar from science: our local situation is not special; it's just another local neighborhood in a huge expanse of reality.
But more recently I've been reconsidering this.
There's an inconsistency with the rest of my metaphysics -- specifically with the foundational idea of an actualization process. This is the causal activity which collapses a set of possibilities into an actual event, grounding change and experience. If every possibility is actualized, why bother? Being actual is trivial and this kind of process seems redundant.
I have a second problem, too. Given all of the suffering borne by sentient creatures in our world, the prospect of all metaphysically possible worlds being actualized, including countless horrible ones we can conceive of, is just hard to stomach. This is the "problem of evil" for a modal realist. I put this in quotes, since it's not a logical problem, or even much of a philosophical argument against the position, it's just a consequence that's very difficult to embrace (for me, anyway). Our moral sense, like our other rational faculties, is ultimately grounded in the metaphysical reality we inhabit. It's hard to make sense of that reality including so much gratuitous suffering.
So, while I continue to respect the impulse that we shouldn't think our situation is special, I also want to reject the idea that it is trivial and that everything possible exists in an even-handed way. Is there an option between these extremes? I'm not sure.
One idea is to revisit a "chaos" model for creation. As I discussed when reviewing Timothy O'Connor's book (here and here), I don't endorse a classical theist view where a personal deity picks our world (or a subset of worlds) from his or her metaphysical card deck. An impersonal, but indeterministic process can perform the same role. Given the evident role for irreducibly chancy, spontaneous processes within our world, perhaps something similar happens on a trans-cosmic scale. We're neither special nor trivial, we're just lucky.