Let's say 200 years ago it was discovered that gold has the atomic number 79.
My claim: possibility is conceivability without known defeaters.
201 years ago it was possible (because it was conceivable) that gold had any atomic number except for the ones which they'd already mapped (hydrogen=1, helium=2 were known defeaters against gold being 1 or 2). Note: and they may have known of some upper bound of stability which it couldn't be bigger than. So it may have been possible for the atomic number to be greater than 2 but less that (e.g.) 250.
Today it is not possible that gold has any atomic number other than 79 because the notion of any other weight is defeated by the evidence we've collected. Today's child may think it is possible that gold could have any atomic weight, but the child's claim would be incorrect relative to what today's educated people know. Also, the well educated adult from 201 years ago's claim is incorrect relative to today's knowledge, but relative to their knowledge 201 year ago, it was correct.
Similarly, we can safely assume that many of our current claims about possible states of affairs will be false relative to some future level of knowledge. However, today they are perfectly assertable/true/acceptable. Frankly, I'd think in this view, possibility claims are only ever assertable, never true (although 'true' is an easy shorthand, just like how scientific theories and the existence of their entities are 'true').
Robust views of possibility are not needed to explain why we make statements about possibility. Possibility statements are certainly useful, given our lack of knowledge, need for personal accountability, and sometimes just unwillingness to perform the required calculation, so I wouldn't suggest we stop using them.
Possibility is thus either epistemic or instrumental and therefore isn't required in our metaphysics.
Kripke's claim: no.
- Jason Christie