Fictionalism and the informativeness of identity

Philosophical Studies 106 (3):197 - 225 (2001)
Abstract
Identity claims often look nonsensical because they apparently declare distinct things to be identical. I argue that this appearance is not just an artefact of grammar. We should be fictionalists about such claims, seeing them against the background of speakers' pretense that their words secure reference to a plurality of objects that are then declared to be identical from within the pretense. I argue that it is the resulting interpretative tension – arising from the fact that two things can never be identical – that allows us to understand the real point of such statements. This view also offers a new solution to Fege's puzzle of the informativeness of identity statements.
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