Modal Fictionalism

Edited by Dan Marshall (Lingnan University, Australian National University)
About this topic
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.
Related categories

49 found
  1. New Problems for Modal Fictionalism.Bradley Armour-Garb - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1201-1219.
    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.
  2. Modal Fictionalism and the Imagination.T. Baldwin - 1998 - Analysis 58 (2):72-75.
  3. Un mondo di possibilità. Realismo modale senza mondi possibili.Andrea Borghini - 2004 - Rivista di Estetica 26 (2):87-100.
    While preparing my suitcase for Padua, I took care to put my favorite cds in a secured spot since they could have broken along the way. Which (non-mental) fact, if any, could possibly justify my action – i.e. what, if anything, makes it the case that my cds could have broken? The paper explores the nature of possibility. The three theories most widely endorsed thus far – fictionism, actualism, and modal realism – are introduced, with a particular attention to their (...)
  4. Modal Fictionalism: A Response to Rosen.Stuart Brock - 1993 - Mind 102 (405):147-150.
  5. Two Modal–Isms: Fictionalism and Ersatzism.Berit Brogaard - 2006 - 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.
  6. Le Sens du Possible.Stéphane Chauvier - 2010 - Vrin.
    Il se trouve aujourd’hui des philosophes pour soutenir que la seule différence entre César franchissant le Rubicon et César ne le franchissant pas, c’est le monde dans lequel ces évènements se sont, en fait, l’un et l’autre produits. César a franchi le Rubicon dans ce monde, celui où nous sommes nous-mêmes, tandis que c’est dans un autre monde que César, ou l’une de ses répliques, ne l’a pas franchi. Nous appelons « réel » ce qui s’est passé dans ce monde (...)
  7. Les possibles sans les mondes.Stéphane Chauvier - 2005 - Cahiers de Philosophie de L’Université de Caen 42:147.
  8. Modal Fictionalism and Compositionality.Josh Dever - 2003 - 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.
  9. A Modal Fictionalist Result.John Divers - 1999 - Noûs 33 (3):317-346.
  10. The Modal Fictionalist Predicament.John Divers & Jason Hagen - 2006 - In Fraser MacBride (ed.), Identity and Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 57.
  11. Fictionalism: Modality.Antony Eagle - manuscript
    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..
  12. Fictionalism.Matti Eklund - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  13. A Desperate Fix.Bob Hale - 1995 - Analysis 55 (2):74-81.
  14. Modal Fictionalism: A Simple Dilemma.Bob Hale - 1995 - Analysis 55 (2):63--7.
  15. Fictions Within Fictions.Reina Hayaki - 2009 - 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 (...)
  16. Modal Fictionalism and Analysis.Seahwa Kim - 2005 - In Mark Eli Kalderon (ed.), Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 116.
  17. Modal Fictionalism Generalized and Defended.Seahwa Kim - 2002 - 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.
  18. Critical Notice. [REVIEW]David Lewis - 1992 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (2):211 – 224.
  19. Modal Fictionalism and Possible-Worlds Discourse.David Liggins - 2008 - 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 (...)
  20. In Defence of Fictionalism About Possible Worlds.Peter Menzies & Philip Pettit - 1994 - Analysis 54 (1):27 - 36.
    Modal functionalism is the view that talk about possible worlds should be construed as talk about fictional objects. The version of modal fictionalism originally presented by Gideon Rosen adopted a simple prefixing strategy for fictionalising possible worlds analyses of modal propositions. However, Stuart Brock and Rosen himself in a later article have independently advanced an objection that shows that the prefixing strategy cannot serve fictionalist purposes. In this paper we defend fictionalism about possible worlds by showing that there are other (...)
  21. Fiction's Ontological Commitments.Christopher Mole - 2009 - 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 (...)
  22. Interview with Francesco Berto.Luca Moretti - 2016 - The Reasoner 10 (5):36-38.
  23. Reflexive Fictionalisms.D. Nolan & J. O'Leary-Hawthorne - 1996 - Analysis 56 (1):23-32.
  24. Hale's Dilemma.Daniel Nolan - manuscript
    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 (...)
  25. Topics in the Philosophy of Possible Worlds.Daniel Nolan - 2011 - Routledge.
    This book discusses a range of important issues in current philosophical work on the nature of possible worlds. Areas investigated include the theories of the nature of possible worlds, general questions about metaphysical analysis and questions about the direction of dependence between what is necessary or possible and what could be.
  26. Modal Fictionalism.Daniel Nolan - 2008 - 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 (...)
  27. Three Problems for “Strong” Modal Fictionalism.Daniel Nolan - 1997 - Philosophical Studies 87 (3):259-275.
  28. In Defence of the Letter of Fictionalism.Harold W. Noonan - 1994 - Analysis 54 (3):133-39.
  29. The Modal Ontological Argument Meets Modal Fictionalism.T. Parent - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (4):338-352.
    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 (...)
  30. In the Mental Fiction, Mental Fictionalism is Fictitious.T. Parent - 2013 - 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 (...)
  31. Modal Metaphysics.T. Parent - 2012 - In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This summarizes of some prominent views about the metaphysics of possible worlds.
  32. I—Gideon Rosen: Culpability and Duress: A Case Study.Gideon Rosen - 2014 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 88 (1):69-90.
  33. Modal Fictionalism Fixed.Gideon Rosen - 1995 - Analysis 55 (2):67-73.
  34. A Problem for Fictionalism About Possible Worlds.Gideon Rosen - 1993 - Analysis 53 (2):71 - 81.
    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 (...)
  35. Modal Fictionalism.Gideon Rosen - 1990 - Mind 99 (395):327-354.
  36. Nonexistent Possibles and Their Individuation.Garry Rosenkrantz - 1984 - 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 (...)
  37. Fiction and Fictionalism.R. M. Sainsbury - 2009 - Routledge.
    Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...)
  38. Modal Fictionalism, Possible Worlds, and Artificiality.Andrea Sauchelli - 2013 - 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 (...)
  39. The Worlds of Possibility. [REVIEW]Theodore Sider - 2001 - 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, Graeme (...)
  40. Fictionalism and the Incompleteness Problem.Lukas Skiba - forthcoming - Synthese:1-14.
    Modal fictionalists face a problem that arises due to their possible-world story being incomplete in the sense that certain relevant claims are neither true nor false according to it. It has recently been suggested that this incompleteness problem generalises to other brands of fictionalism, such as fictionalism about composite or mathematical objects. In this paper, I argue that these fictionalist positions are particularly threatened by a generalised incompleteness problem since they cannot emulate the modal fictionalists’ most attractive response. I then (...)
  41. On the Prospects of Modal Fictionalism.Michael-John Turp - 2007 - Gnosis 8 (2):1-47.
  42. Modal Fictionalism and Hale's Dilemma Against It.Wen-Fang Wang - 2007 - 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 (...)
  43. Truth in PW and the Solution of Hale's Dilemma for Modal Fictionalism.Wen-Fang Wang - 2003 - Journal of Philosophical Research 28:329-344.
  44. Dwa typy modalnego fikcjonalizmu.Piotr Warzoszczak - 2009 - Filozofia Nauki 1.
    The main aim of the article is a comparison of two types of modal fictionalism (which is, to put it roughly, the antirealist view concerning the existence of possible worlds). The most popular version of modal fictionalism, proposed by Gideon Rosen, is compared with the modal fictionalism based on Stephen Yablo's ideas concerning object fictionalism. Both views aim to: (i) deliver an interpretation of existential quantifiers ranging over possible worlds, according to which quantifying over possible worlds does not imply ontological (...)
  45. Fictionalism and Incompleteness.Richard Woodward - 2012 - 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 (...)
  46. Is Modal Fictionalism Artificial?Richard Woodward - 2011 - 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.
  47. Why Modal Fictionalism is Not Self-Defeating.Richard Woodward - 2008 - 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 (...)
  48. How in the World?Stephen Yablo - 1996 - In Christopher Hill (ed.), Philosophical Topics. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 255--86.
  49. Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise.Takashi Yagisawa - 2009 - 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.