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Summary This category includes discussions of fictionalist theories of possible worlds, fictionalist theories of modality, and related anti-realist theories of possible worlds and modality. A fictionalist theory of possible worlds holds that it is useful for certain purposes to employ a fiction according to which there are possible worlds. A fictionalist theory of modality, in contrast, holds that it is useful for certain purposes to employ a fiction according to which there is such a thing as modality.
Key works The most prominent fictionalist account of possible worlds is Rosen 1990. Another important fictionalist account is Armstrong 1989.
Introductions An excellent introductory paper on fictionalism about possible worlds is Nolan 2008.
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  1. Bradley Armour-Garb (forthcoming). New Problems for Modal Fictionalism. Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    In this paper, after clarifying certain features of Gideon Rosen’s Modal Fictionalism, I raise two problems for that view and argue that these problems strongly suggest that advocates of a “Deflationist Strategy” ought not to endorse, or adopt Rosen-style Modal Fictionalism.
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  2. Thomas Baldwin (1998). Modal Fictionalism and the Imagination. Analysis 58 (2):72–75.
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  3. Stuart Brock (1993). Modal Fictionalism: A Response to Rosen. Mind 102 (405):147-150.
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  4. Berit Brogaard (2006). Two Modal–Isms: Fictionalism and Ersatzism. Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):77–94.
    It is sometimes said that no living philosopher is a genuine modal realist. This is no doubt an exaggeration. But at least this much is true: while we all partake of possible world talk when philosophizing, most of us regard this talk as incurring no commitment to a plurality of concrete worlds.
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  5. Josh Dever (2003). Modal Fictionalism and Compositionality. Philosophical Studies 114 (3):223 - 251.
    Modal fictionalists propose to defuse the unwanted ontological commitments of modal realism by treating modal realism as a fictional story, and modal assertions as assertions, prefixed by a fictionalist operator, that something is true in that story. However, consideration of conditionals with modal antecedents raises the problem ofembedding, which shows that the simple prefixing strategy cannotsucceed. A compositional version of the fictionalist strategy isdeveloped and critiqued, and some general semantic morals aredrawn from the failures of both strategies.
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  6. John Divers (1999). A Modal Fictionalist Result. Noûs 33 (3):317-346.
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  7. John Divers & Jason Hagen (2006). The Modal Fictionalist Predicament. In Fraser MacBride (ed.), Identity and Modality. Oxford University Press. 57.
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  8. Antony Eagle, Fictionalism: Modality.
    and argue that (2) is similarly not true, but a convention: we use talk of pos• sibility to capture claims about consistency, or whatever. (This is merely an example; I don't suppose that (2) appeals to anyone particularly as a neces• sary truth about possibility or consistency.) Again, the kind of thing that is in..
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  9. Matti Eklund, Fictionalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  10. Bob Hale (1995). A Desperate Fix. Analysis 55 (2):74-81.
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  11. Reina Hayaki (2009). Fictions Within Fictions. Philosophical Studies 146 (3):379 - 398.
    This paper examines the logic of fictions within fictions. I argue that consistently nested consistent fictions must have certain formal characteristics. The most important is that they form a tree structure. Depending on one’s theory of fictional objects, additional constraints may apply regarding the appearance of a fictional object in two or more fictional universes. The background motivation for the paper is to use iterated fiction operators as a tool for making sense of iterated modal operators; I conclude by noting (...)
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  12. Seahwa Kim (2005). Modal Fictionalism and Analysis. In Mark Eli Kalderon (ed.), Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. 116.
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  13. Seahwa Kim (2002). Modal Fictionalism Generalized and Defended. Philosophical Studies 111 (2):121 - 146.
    In this paper, I will defend modalfictionalism. The paper has two parts. In thefirst part, I will suggest a revised version ofmodal fictionalism which can avoid certaintechnical problems. In the second part, I willpropose a nominalized version of modalfictionalism and a general scheme offictionalism for the nominalist.
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  14. David Lewis (1992). Critical Notice. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (2):211 – 224.
  15. David Liggins (2008). Modal Fictionalism and Possible-Worlds Discourse. Philosophical Studies 138 (2):151-60.
    The Brock-Rosen problem has been one of the most thoroughly discussed objections to the modal fictionalism bruited in Gideon Rosen’s ‘Modal Fictionalism’. But there is a more fundamental problem with modal fictionalism, at least as it is normally explained: the position does not resolve the tension that motivated it. I argue that if we pay attention to a neglected aspect of modal fictionalism, we will see how to resolve this tension—and we will also find a persuasive reply to the Brock-Rosen (...)
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  16. Christopher Mole (2009). Fiction's Ontological Commitments. Philosophical Forum 40 (4):473-488.
    This article examines one way in which a fiction can carry ontological commitments. The ontological commitments that the article examines arise in cases where there are norms governing discourse about items in a fiction that cannot be accounted for by reference to the contents of the sentences that constitute a canonical telling of that fiction. In such cases, a fiction may depend for its contents on the real-world properties of real-world items, and the fiction may, in that sense, be ontologically (...)
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  17. Daniel Nolan, Hale's Dilemma.
    Bob Hale in Hale 1995b posed a dilemma for modal fictionalism (more specifically, Rosen's version of modal fictionalism). A modal fictionalist who maintains the version outlined in Rosen 1990 believes that the fiction of possible worlds (PW, to use Rosen and Hale's abbreviation) is not literally true. The question arises, however, about its modal status. Is it necessarily false, or contingently false? In either case, Hale argues, the modal fictionalist is in trouble. Should the modal fictionalist claim that the story (...)
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  18. Daniel Nolan, Modal Fictionalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Questions about necessity (or what has to be, or what cannot be otherwise) and possibility (or what can be, or what could be otherwise) are questions about modality. Fictionalism is an approach to theoretical matters in a given area which treats the claims in that area as being in some sense analogous to fictional claims: claims we do not literally accept at face value, but which we nevertheless think serve some useful function. However, despite its name, “Modal Fictionalism” in its (...)
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  19. Daniel Nolan (1997). Three Problems for “Strong” Modal Fictionalism. Philosophical Studies 87 (3):259-275.
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  20. Daniel Nolan & John O'Leary-Hawthorne (1996). Reflexive Fictionalisms. Analysis 56 (1):23–32.
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  21. Harold W. Noonan (1994). In Defence of the Letter of Fictionalism. Analysis 54 (3):133-39.
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  22. T. Parent, The Modal Ontological Argument Meets Modal Fictionalism.
    This paper attacks the modal ontological argument, as advocated by Plantinga among others. Whereas other criticisms in the literature reject one of its premises, the present line is that the argument is invalid. This becomes apparent once we run the argument assuming fictionalism about possible worlds. Broadly speaking, the problem is that if one defines “x” as something that exists, it does not follow that there is anything satisfying the definition. Yet unlike non-modal ontological arguments, the modal argument commits this (...)
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  23. T. Parent (2013). In the Mental Fiction, Mental Fictionalism is Fictitious. The Monist 96 (4):605-621.
    Here I explore the prospects for fictionalism about the mental, modeled after fictionalism about possible worlds. Mental fictionalism holds that the mental states posited by folk psychology do not exist, yet that some sentences of folk psychological discourse are true. This is accomplished by construing truths of folk psychology as “truths according to the mentalistic fiction.” After formulating the view, I identify five ways that the view appears self-refuting. Moreover, I argue that this cannot be fixed by semantic ascent or (...)
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  24. T. Parent (2012). Modal Metaphysics. In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This summarizes of some prominent views about the metaphysics of possible worlds.
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  25. Gideon Rosen (1995). Modal Fictionalism Fixed. Analysis 55 (2):67-73.
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  26. Gideon Rosen (1990). Modal Fictionalism. Mind 99 (395):327-354.
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  27. Garry Rosenkrantz (1984). Nonexistent Possibles and Their Individuation. Grazer Philosophische Studien 22:127-147.
    A nonexistent possible is a particular concrete object which exists in some possible world but doesn't exist in the actual world. A definite description may be said to individuate a nonexistent possible if just one possible object satisfies the condition specified by that description, and this possible object doesn't exist in the actual world. Given a plausible form of mereological essentialism, certain mereological and causal descriptions which determine a thing's composition individuate nonexistent possible hunks of matter which are mereological or (...)
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  28. R. M. Sainsbury (2009). Fiction and Fictionalism. Routledge.
    Introduction -- What is fiction? -- Realism about fictional objects -- Fictional objects are nonexistents -- Worlds and truth : fictional worlds, possible worlds, and impossible worlds -- Fictional entities are abstract artifacts -- Irrealism : fiction and intentionality -- Some fictionalists -- Fictionalism about possible worlds -- Moral fictionalism -- Retrospect.
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  29. Andrea Sauchelli (2013). Modal Fictionalism, Possible Worlds, and Artificiality. Acta Analytica 28 (4):411-21.
    Accounts of modality in terms of fictional possible worlds face an objection based on the idea that when modal claims are analysed in terms of fictions, the connection between analysans and analysandum seems artificial. Strong modal fictionalism, the theory according to which modal claims are analysed in terms of a fiction, has been defended by, among others, Seahwa Kim, who has recently claimed that the philosophical objection that the connection between modality and fictions is artificial can be met. I propose (...)
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  30. Theodore Sider (2001). The Worlds of Possibility. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 110 (1):88-91.
    Possible worlds present a formidable challenge for the lover of desert landscapes. One cannot ignore their usefulness; they provide, as David Lewis puts it, “a philosophers’ paradise”.1 But to enter paradise possibilia must be fit into a believable ontology. Some follow Lewis and accept worlds at face value, but most prefer some other choice from the current menu. Part of Chihara’s book is a critical discussion of some of these menu options: Lewis’s modal realism, Alvin Plantinga’s abstract modal realism, (...)
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  31. Wen-Fang Wang (2007). Modal Fictionalism and Hale's Dilemma Against It. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 5:51-56.
    Gideon Rosen proposes a view called "modal fictionalism" which Rosen thinks has all the benefits of modal realism without its ontological costs. Whereas modal realists have a paraphrase r(0) of a modal claim "0", modal fictionalists claim that the correct translation of "0" is rather the result of prefixing "according to the hypothesis of a plurality of worlds" to r(0). Rosen takes the prefix to be primitive and defines other modal notions in terms of it. Bob Hale, however, thinks the (...)
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  32. Richard Woodward (2012). Fictionalism and Incompleteness. Noûs 46 (4):781-790.
    The modal fictionalist faces a problem due to the fact that her chosen story seems to be incomplete—certain things are neither fictionally true nor fictionally false. The significance of this problem is not localized to modal fictionalism, however, since many fictionalists will face it too. By examining how the fictionalist should analyze the notion of truth according to her story, and, in particular, the role that conditionals play for the fictionalist, I develop a novel and elegant solution to the incompleteness (...)
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  33. Richard Woodward (2011). Is Modal Fictionalism Artificial? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (4):535-550.
    This article examines a popular complaint against the fictionalist account of possible objects bruited by Gideon Rosen. This is the complaint that modal fictionalism is, in some sense or other, hopelessly artificial. I shall separate two different strands to this worry and examine each in turn. As we shall see, neither strand to the objection is intractable.
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  34. Richard Woodward (2008). Why Modal Fictionalism is Not Self-Defeating. Philosophical Studies 139 (2):273 - 288.
    Gideon Rosen’s [1990 Modal fictionalism. Mind, 99, 327–354] Modal Fictionalist aims to secure the benefits of realism about possible-worlds, whilst avoiding commitment to the existence of any world other than our own. Rosen [1993 A problem for fictionalism about possible worlds. Analysis, 53, 71–81] and Stuart Brock [1993 Modal fictionalism: A response to Rosen. Mind, 102, 147–150] both argue that fictionalism is self-defeating since the fictionalist is tacitly committed to the existence of a plurality of worlds. In this paper, I (...)
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  35. Stephen Yablo (1996). How in the World? In Christopher Hill (ed.), Metaphysics. University of Arkansas Press. 255--86.
  36. Takashi Yagisawa (2010). Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise. Oxford University Press.
    Modal realism -- Time, space, world -- Existence -- Actuality -- Modal realism and modal tense -- Transworld individuals and their identity -- Existensionalism -- Impossibility -- Proposition and relief -- Fictional worlds -- Epistemology.
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