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Conception of a total way the universe might have been. It is often contrasted with the way things actually are. In his Theodicy (1710), G.W. Leibniz used the concept of a possible world in his proposed solution to the theological problem of the existence of evil, arguing that an all-perfect God would actualize the best of all possible worlds; this idea was later satirized by Voltaire in his comic novel Candide (1759). Philosophers have since constructed several different formalizations of the concept of a possible world.
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