Abstract: Suppose you are somewhat persuaded by the arguments for Eliminative Materialism, but are put off by the view itself. For instance, you might be sympathetic to one or more of the following considerations: (1) that folk psychology is a bad theory and will be soon replaced by cognitive science or neuroscience, (2) that folk psychology will never be vindicated by cognitive science, (3) that folk psychology makes ontological commitments to weird or spooky things that no proper science will admit (...) the existence of, (4) that folk psychology seems to lead to a sort of epiphenomenalism (which is yet another thing that’s weird and spooky), and (5) that folk psychology seems to lead to the conclusion that mental content is either determined by things outside the head or is completely indeterminate, neither of which is appealing. Yet in spite of your sympathy for any one of (1)-(5), you may nonetheless cringe at the consequence of them—that is, you may be unwilling to accept the Eliminative Materialist’s radical claim that (i) there are no beliefs, desires, etc., and (ii) we should stop all talk to that quantifies to the contrary. To relieve the conflict, I propose Mental Fictionalism: the view that we are fictionalists about mental states. (shrink)
Fictionalism has recently returned as a standard response to ontologically problematic domains. This article assesses moral fictionalism. It argues (i) that a correct understanding of the dialectical situation in contemporary metaethics shows that fictionalism is only an interesting new alternative if it can provide a new account of normative content: what is it that I am thinking or saying when I think or say that I ought to do something; and (ii) that fictionalism, qua fictionalism, (...) does not provide us with any new resources for providing such an account. (shrink)
According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational (the realists go that bit right) but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible (the non-cognitivists got that bit right). This is the basis of Mackie’s now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie’s approach (...) can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark Kalderon has argued that moral fictionalism is attractive quite independently of Mackie’s error-theory. Kalderon argues that the Frege–Geach problem shows that we need moral propositions, but that a fictionalist can and should embrace propositional content together with a non-cognitivist account of acceptance of a moral proposition. Indeed, it is clear that any fictionalist is going to have to postulate more than one kind of acceptance attitude. We argue that this double-approach to acceptance generates a new problem – a descendent of Frege–Geach – which we call the acceptance–transfer problem. Although we develop the problem in the context of Kalderon’s version of non-cognitivist fictionalism, we show that it is not the non-cognitivist aspect of Kalderon’s account that generates the problem. A closely related problem surfaces for the more typical variants of fictionalism according to which accepting a moral proposition is believing some closely related non-moral proposition. Fictionalists of both stripes thus have an attitude problem. (shrink)
CHANGE SLIDE Go through outline of talk CHANGE SLIDE It is my sincerest hope that if there is one thing that people take away from Moral Fictionalism, it is the recognition that standard noncognitivism involves a syndrome of three, logically distinct claims. Standard noncognitivists claim that moral judgment is not belief or any other cognitive attitude but is, rather, a noncognitive attitude more akin to desire; that this noncognitive attitude is expressed by our public moral utterances; and, hence, that (...) our public moral utterances lack a distinctively moral subject matter and so are not answerable to the moral facts. Notice, however, that these are logically distinct claimsthe rst is a psychological claim, the second and third, positive and negative semantic claims, respectively. We can regiment the familiar technical vocabulary as follow: CHANGE.. (shrink)
This paper surveys contemporary accounts of error theory and fictionalism. It introduces these categories to those new to metaethics by beginning with moral nihilism, the view that nothing really is right or wrong. One main motivation is that the scientific worldview seems to have no place for rightness or wrongness. Within contemporary metaethics there is a family of theories that makes similar claims. These are the theories that are usually classified as forms of error theory or fictionalism though (...) there are different ways of accepting some form of the view that nothing is really write or wrong. A range of different ways of going in the light of such a realization is also proposed. The resulting taxonomy of positions is quite complicated and sometimes surprising. One surprise will be that some positions plausibly classified as error theories or forms of fictionalism do not quite seem to be forms of nihilism. (shrink)
Prop oriented make-believe is make-believe utilized for the purpose of understanding what I call “props,” actual objects or states of affairs that make propositions “fictional,” true in the make-believe world. I, David Hills, and others have claimed that prop oriented make-believe lies at the heart of the functioning of many metaphors, and one variety of fictionalism in metaphysics invokes prop oriented make-believe to explain away apparent references to entities some find questionable or problematic (fictional characters, propositions, moral properties, numbers). (...) Elisabeth Camp has argued against my and David Hills’ views of metaphor. Her arguments, many of them echoed by Catharine Wearing, demolish a very implausible account of metaphor, but leave entirely untouched the views that Hills and I actually proposed. Clarifying what we say about metaphor serves also as a defense of fictionalist theories that invoke prop oriented make-believe. (shrink)
Hermeneutic fictionalism about mathematics maintains that mathematics is not committed to the existence of abstract objects such as numbers. Mathematical sentences are true, but they should not be construed literally. Numbers are just fictions in terms of which we can conveniently describe things which exist. The paper defends Stephen Yablo’s hermeneutic fictionalism against an objection proposed by John Burgess and Gideon Rosen. The objection, directed against all forms of nominalism, goes as follows. Nominalism can take either a hermeneutic (...) form and claim that mathematics, when rightly understood, is not committed to the existence of abstract objects, or a revolutionary form and claim that mathematics is to be understood literally but is false. The hermeneutic version is said to be untenable because there is no philosophically unbiased linguistic argument to show that mathematics should not be understood literally. Against this I argue that it is wrong to demand that hermeneutic fictionalism should be established solely on the basis of linguistic evidence. In addition, there are reasons to think that hermeneutic fictionalism cannot even be defeated by linguistic arguments alone. (shrink)
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 “existential fallacy” not in relation to the definition of ‘God’. Rather, it occurs in relation to the modal facts quantified over within a Kripkean modal logic. In brief, we can describe the modal facts by whichever logic we prefer—yet it does not follow that there are genuine modal facts, as opposed to mere facts-according-to-the-fiction. A broader consequence of the discussion is that the existential fallacy is an issue for many projects in “armchair metaphysics.”. (shrink)
Until recently philosophy of religion has been almost exclusively focused upon the analysis of western religious ideas. The central concern of the discipline has been the concept God , as that concept has been understood within Judaeo-Christianity. However, this narrow remit threatens to render philosophy of religion irrelevant today. To avoid this philosophy of religion should become a genuinely multicultural discipline. But how, if at all, can philosophy of religion rise to this challenge? The paper considers fictionalism about religious (...) discourse as a possible methodological standpoint from which to practice a tradition-neutral form of philosophy of religion. However, after examining some of the problems incurred by fictionalism, the paper concludes that fictionalism and religious diversity are uneasy bedfellows; which implies that fictionalism is unlikely to be the best theory to shape the practice of philosophy of religion in a multicultural context. (shrink)
We argue that if Stephen Yablo (2005) is right that philosophers of mathematics ought to endorse a fictionalist view of number-talk, then there is a compelling reason for deflationists about truth to endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk. More specifically, our claim will be that, for deflationists about truth, Yablo’s argument for mathematical fictionalism can be employed and mounted as an argument for truth-theoretic fictionalism.
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 a new way of spelling out the intuition of artificiality and show that strong modal fictionalism should be rejected. (shrink)
Questions regarding what exists are central to various forms of Buddhist philosophy, as they are to many traditions of philosophy. Interestingly, there is perhaps a clearer consensus in Buddhist thought regarding what does not exist than there may be regarding precisely what does exist, at least insofar as the doctrine of anātman (no self, absence of self) is taken to be a fundamental Buddhist doctrine. It may be noted that many forms of Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy in particular are considered to (...) offer a quite austere ontology—a rather ‘empty’ account of what exists. Continuing in this vein of ontological austerity, here I will attempt to lay out a relatively novel approach to Buddhist ontology, viz. Buddhist fictionalism. (shrink)
In this paper I do three things. Firstly, I defend the view that in his most familiar arguments about morality and the theological postulates, the arguments which appeal to the epistemological doctrines of the first Critique, Kant is as much of a fictionalist as anybody not working explicitly with that conceptual apparatus could be: his notion of faith as subjectively and not objectively grounded is precisely what fictionalists are concerned with in their talk of nondoxastic attitudes. Secondly, I reconstruct a (...) logically distinct argument to a fictionalist conclusion which I argue Kant also gives us, this time an argument to the conclusion that it is a good thing if our commitment to the existence of God is nondoxastic. And finally, I argue that this argument is of continuing interest, to Kantians and non-Kantians alike, not only because it raises interesting questions about the relation of morality to belief in God (which go in the opposite direction to most discussions, which focus on whether and to what extent belief in God can be an aid to morality), but also because this ‘Moral Hazard Argument’ seems to be available to religious realists and non-realists alike, thus suggesting that religious fictionalism is not by any means just an interesting version of religious non-realism. (shrink)
One of the most central ideas of secular, humanistic morality is the thesis of intrinsic and equal human worth. Paradoxically, it is very hard to place this thesis in a secular worldview, because an indifferent universe can not make room for intrinsic values and a priori human rights. Nevertheless, it would not be a good solution to jettison the whole human rights discourse. Therefore, this paper proposes the stance of moral fictionalism: to believe that the discourse entails or embodies (...) a theory that is false, but to carry on employing the discourse, as if this were not the case, because it is useful to do so. As such, the ideas of intrinsic and equal human worth can be the subject of ëdisbelieving acceptanceí by the secular moral philosopher. (shrink)
In this paper we introduce a distinct metaethical position, fictionalism about morality. We clarify and defend the position, showing that it is a way to save the 'moral phenomena' while agreeing that there is no genuine objective prescriptivity to be described by moral terms. In particular, we distinguish moral fictionalism from moral quasi-realism, and we show that fictionalism possesses the virtues of quasi-realism about morality, but avoids its vices.
Mathematical fictionalism (or as I'll call it, fictionalism) is best thought of as a reaction to mathematical platonism. Platonism is the view that (a) there exist abstract mathematical objects (i.e., nonspatiotemporal mathematical objects), and (b) our mathematical sentences and theories provide true descriptions of such objects. So, for instance, on the platonist view, the sentence ‘3 is prime’ provides a straightforward description of a certain object—namely, the number 3—in much the same way that the sentence ‘Mars is red’ (...) provides a description of Mars. But whereas Mars is a physical object, the number 3 is (according to platonism) an abstract object. And abstract objects, platonists tell us, are wholly nonphysical, nonmental, nonspatial, nontemporal, and noncausal. Thus, on this view, the number 3 exists independently of us and our thinking, but it does not exist in space or time, it is not a physical or mental object, and it does not enter into causal relations with other objects. This view has been endorsed by Plato, Frege (1884, 1893-1903, 1919), Gödel (1964), and in some of their writings, Russell (1912) and Quine (1948, 1951), not to mention numerous more recent philosophers of mathematics, e.g., Putnam (1971), Parsons (1971), Steiner (1975), Resnik (1997), Shapiro (1997), Hale (1987), Wright (1983), Katz (1998), Zalta (1988), and Colyvan (2001). (shrink)
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 objection. Finally, I discuss an alternative reading of Rosen, and argue that this position is also able to fend off the Brock-Rosen objection. (shrink)
Fictionalism in the philosophy of mathematics is the view that mathematical statements, such as ‘8+5=13’ and ‘π is irrational’, are to be interpreted at face value and, thus interpreted, are false. Fictionalists are typically driven to reject the truth of such mathematical statements because these statements imply the existence of mathematical entities, and according to fictionalists there are no such entities. Fictionalism is a nominalist (or anti-realist) account of mathematics in that it denies the existence of a realm (...) of abstract mathematical entities. It should be contrasted with mathematical realism (or Platonism) where mathematical statements are taken to be true, and, moreover, are taken to be truths about mathematical entities. Fictionalism should also be contrasted with other nominalist philosophical accounts of mathematics that propose a reinterpretation of mathematical statements, according to which the statements in question are true but no longer about mathematical entities. Fictionalism is thus an error theory of mathematical discourse: at face value mathematical discourse commits us to mathematical entities and although we normally take many of the statements of this discourse to be true, in doing so we are in error (cf. error theories in ethics). (shrink)
This paper develops a novel version of mathematical fictionalism and defends it against three objections or worries, viz., (i) an objection based on the fact that there are obvious disanalogies between mathematics and fiction; (ii) a worry about whether fictionalism is consistent with the fact that certain mathematical sentences are objectively correct whereas others are incorrect; and (iii) a recent objection due to John Burgess concerning “hermeneuticism” and “revolutionism”.
This paper distinguishes revolutionary fictionalism from other forms of fictionalism and also from other philosophical views. The paper takes fictionalism about mathematical objects and fictionalism about scientific unobservables as illustrations. The paper evaluates arguments that purport to show that this form of fictionalism is incoherent on the grounds that there is no tenable distinction between believing a sentence and taking the fictionalist's distinctive attitude to that sentence. The argument that fictionalism about mathematics is ‘comically (...) immodest’ is also evaluated. In place of those arguments, an argument against fictionalism about abstract objects of any kind is presented in the last section. This argument takes the form of a trilemma against the fictionalist. (shrink)
In "How to Speak of the Colors", Mark Johnston’s claims that eliminativism would require us to jettison colour discourse. In this paper, I challenge Johnston’s claim. I argue that a particular version of eliminativism, i.e., prescriptive colour fictionalism, allows us to continue employing colour discourse as we have thus far in the absence of colours. In doing so, it employs statistical models in its base discourse to derive high-level statistical constructs that can be linked to the fiction via bridge (...) principles. (shrink)
Lewis has argued that quasi-realism is fictionalism. Blackburn denies this, offering reasons which rely on a descriptive reading of quasi-realism. This note offers a different, more general argument against Lewis's claim, available to prescriptive as well as descriptive quasi-realists.
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.
Fictionalist approaches to ontology have been an accepted part of philosophical methodology for some time now. On a fictionalist view, engaging in discourse that involves apparent reference to a realm of problematic entities is best viewed as engaging in a pretense. Although in reality, the problematic entities do not exist, according to the pretense we engage in when using the discourse, they do exist. In the vocabulary of Burgess and Rosen (1997, p. 6), a nominalist construal of a given discourse (...) is revolutionary just in case it involves a “reconstruction or revision” of the original discourse. Revolutionary approaches are therefore prescriptive. In contrast, a nominalist construal of a given discourse is hermeneutic just in case it is a nominalist construal of a discourse that is put forth as a hypothesis about how the discourse is in fact used; that is, hermeneutic approaches are descriptive. I will adopt Burgess and Rosen’s terminology to describe the two different spirits in which a fictionalist hypothesis in ontology might be advanced. Revolutionary fictionalism would involve admitting that while the problematic discourse does in fact involve literal reference to nonexistent entities, we ought to use the discourse in such a way that the reference is simply within the pretense. The hermeneutic fictionalist, in contrast, reads fictionalism into our actual use of the problematic discourse. According to her, normal use of the problematic discourse involves a pretense. According to the pretense, and only according to the pretense, there exist the objects to which the discourse would commit its users, were no pretense involved. My purpose in this paper is to argue that hermeneutic fictionalism is not a viable strategy in ontology. My argument proceeds in two steps. First, I discuss in detail several problematic consequences of any interesting application of hermeneutic fictionalism. Of course, if there is good evidence that hermeneutic fictionalism is correct in some cases, then some of these drastic consequences would have to be accepted.. (shrink)
Mark Eli Kalderon has argued for a fictionalist variant of non-cognitivism. On his view, what the Frege–Geach problem shows is that standard non-cognitivism proceeds uncritically from claims about use to claims about meaning; if non-cognitivism's claims were solely about use it would be on safe ground as far as the Frege–Geach problem is concerned. I argue that Kalderon's diagnosis is mistaken: the problem concerns the non-cognitivist's account of the use of moral sentences too.
Andrew Eshleman has argued that atheists can believe in God by being fully engaged members of religious communities and using religious discourse in a non-realist way. He calls this position 'fictionalism' because the atheist takes up religion as a useful fiction. In this paper I critique fictionalism along two lines: that it is problematic to successfully be a fictionalist and that fictionalism is unjustified. Reflection on fictionalism will point to some wider problems with religious anti-realism.
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 develop a new strategy for the fictionalist to pursue in response to the Brock–Rosen objection. I begin by arguing that modal fictionalism is best understood as a paraphrase strategy that concerns the propositions that are expressed, in a given context, by modal sentences. I go on to argue that what is interesting about paraphrastic fictionalism is that it allows the fictionalist to accept that the sentence ‘there is a plurality of worlds’ is true without thereby committing her to the existence of a plurality of worlds. I then argue that the paraphrastic fictionalist can appeal to a form of semantic contextualism in order to communicate her status as an anti-realist. Finally, I generalise my conception of fictionalism and argue that Daniel Nolan and John O’Leary-Hawthorne [1996 Reflexive fictionalisms. Analysis, 56, 26–32] are wrong to suggest that the Brock-Rosen objection reveals a structural flaw with all species of fictionalism. (shrink)
Science and mathematics: the scope and limits of mathematical fictionalism Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 1-26 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9640-3 Authors Christopher Pincock, University of Missouri, 438 Strickland Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-4160, USA Alan Baker, Department of Philosophy, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081, USA Alexander Paseau, Wadham College, Oxford, OX1 3PN UK Mary Leng, Department of Philosophy, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
In a recent paper in this journal, Mark Balaguer develops and defends a new version of mathematical fictionalism, what he calls ‘Hermeneutic non-assertivism’, and responds to some recent objections to mathematical fictionalism that were launched by John Burgess and others. In this paper I provide some fairly compelling reasons for rejecting Hermeneutic non-assertivism — ones that highlight an important feature of what understanding mathematics involves (or, as we shall see, does not involve).
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 problem. (shrink)
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.
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 by a kind of primitivism. Even so, I also show that the “self-refutation” charges are subtly question-begging. Nevertheless, the reply reveals that a mental fictionalist ought to be a kind of quietist. (shrink)
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 usual manifestations is not primarily fictionalism about claims of necessity and possibility, but rather a fictionalist approach to claims about possible worlds. (For instance, modal fictionalism is not normally fictionalist about the claim that “it is possible that there be a species of tail-less kangaroo”, but rather about the claim that “there is a possible world in which there is a species of tail-less kangaroo”.) The practice of taking possible worlds to be merely convenient fictions, or of treating talk about possible worlds as being useful without being literally correct, is quite common in philosophical circles. It is only recently, however, that philosophers have seriously examined the implications of taking possible worlds to be merely fictional objects, like Sherlock Holmes or a frictionless surface. (shrink)
This paper responds to John Burgess's ‘Mathematics and Bleak House’. While Burgess's rejection of hermeneutic fictionalism is accepted, it is argued that his two main attacks on revolutionary fictionalism fail to meet their target. Firstly, ‘philosophical modesty’ should not prevent philosophers from questioning the truth of claims made within successful practices, provided that the utility of those practices as they stand can be explained. Secondly, Carnapian scepticism concerning the meaningfulness of metaphysical existence claims has no force against a (...) naturalized version of fictionalism, according to which our ordinary standards of scientific evidence may show that we have no reason to believe the mathematical existence claims made within the context of our mathematical and scientific theories. (shrink)
In his paper, 'A critique of religious fictionalism', Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, 'Can an atheist believe in God?'. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
Fictionalism about possible worlds is the view that talk about worlds in the analysis of modality is to be construed as ontologically innocent discourse about the content of a fiction. Versions of the view have been defended by D M Armstrong (in "A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility") and by myself (in "Modal Fictionalism', "Mind" 99, July 1990). The present note argues that fictionalist accounts of modality (both Armstrong's version and my own) fail to serve the fictionalists ontological purposes (...) because they imply that as a matter of necessity there exist many worlds. (shrink)
A pressing problem for many non-realist1 theories concerning various specific subject matters is the challenge of making sense of our ordinary propositional attitude claims related to the subject in question. Famously in the case of ethics, to take one example, we have in ordinary language prima facie ascriptions of beliefs and desires involving moral properties and relationships. In the case, for instance, of “Jason believes that Kylie is virtuous”, we appear to have a belief which takes Kylie to be a (...) certain way. If Jason desires that Kylie acts as she ought, he appears to have a desire which has as its content that Kylie perform actions of a certain sort (i.e. the actions that she ought to perform). However, for non-cognitivists in ethics who reject the idea that sentences such as “Kylie is virtuous” or “Kylie acts as she ought” are in the business of making truth-apt claims, or representing that certain moral features are possessed by objects or events, or even, in extreme cases, that such claims express propositions at all, the semantic analysis of the example propositional attitude claims made about Jason will have to be non-standard. (This is merely an application of the well-known “Frege-Geach problem” (see Geach 1965) to the case of embedding moral vocabulary in propositional-attitude ascriptions.). (shrink)
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.
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.
: To honor Bernard Goldstein, this article highlights in the "Defense of Theon against George of Trebizond" by Regiomontanus (1436-1476) themes that resonate with leading strands of Goldstein's scholarship. I argue that, in this poorly-known work, Regiomontanus's mastery of Ptolemy's mathematical astronomy, his interest in making astronomy physical, and his homocentric ideals stand in unresolved tension. Each of these themes resonates with Gold- stein's fundamental work on the Almagest, the Planetary Hypotheses, and al-Bitruji's Principles of Astronomy. I flesh out these (...) tensions with an intriguing interpretation of the history of astronomy, in which Regiomontanus contrasts the two-dimensional "eccentric astronomy" attributed to the Almagest and the Arabs with the three-dimensional spheres of the "later" astronomers. A similar contrast reappears when Regiomontanus portrays as a "fictitious art" an astronomy that does not go beyond the accommodation of computations to the appearances. To conclude, I use Regiomontanus's expression to reinstate (pace Goldstein and Barker in this journal, 1998) fictionalism as an actor's category in Osiander and sixteenth-century astronomy. (shrink)
Kitcher urges us to think of mathematics as an idealized science of human operations, rather than a theory describing abstract mathematical objects. I argue that Kitcher's invocation of idealization cannot save mathematical truth and avoid platonism. Nevertheless, what is left of Kitcher's view is worth holding onto. I propose that Kitcher's account should be fictionalized, making use of Walton's and Currie's make-believe theory of fiction, and argue that the resulting ideal-agent fictionalism has advantages over mathematical-object fictionalism.