Fiction, Indifference, and Ontology

When philosophers make claims of the form “Fs are fictions”, what they say is often ambiguous in a crucial way. On one way of understanding it, it has clear ontological implications: there are not really any such things as Fs. But there is also a different, non-ontological way of understanding the claim: as merely asserting that F-assertions are normally made in a fictional spirit. Clearly one can hold that we normally make statements about Fs in a fictional spirit while also holding that we would still express truths if we were to make literal statements about Fs. Let ontological fictionalism about F-discourse be the thesis that Fs do not really exist but only exist in fictions. Let linguistic fictionalism about F-discourse be the thesis that we normally make F- statements in a fictional spirit. (Throughout when talking about (linguistic) fictionalism I shall mean hermeneutic fictionalism: fictionalism considered as a thesis about actual discourse, to the effect that we actually do make statements belonging to the discourse in a fictional spirit. Contrast: revolutionary fictionalism, which proposes that we should make statements belonging to the discourse in a fictional spirit.1).
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2005.tb00471.x
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Daniel Z. Korman, Ordinary Objects. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Victoria Harrison (2010). Philosophy of Religion, Fictionalism, and Religious Diversity. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 68 (1):43-58.

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