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)
Mental fictionalism is the view that, even if mental states do not exist, it is useful to talk as if they do. Mental states are useful fictions. Recent philosophy of mind has seen a growing interest in mental fictionalism. To date, much of the discussion has concerned the general features of the approach. In this paper, I develop a specific form of mental fictionalism by drawing on Kendall Walton’s work on make-believe. According to the approach I propose, (...) talk of mental states is a useful pretence for describing people and their behaviour. I try to clarify and motivate this approach by comparing it to well-known alternatives, including behaviourism, instrumentalism and eliminativism. I also consider some of the challenges that it faces. (shrink)
Mark Eli Kalderon argues that morality is a fiction by means of which our emotional attitudes are conveyed. This is an improvement on the standard noncognitivist view, which denies that moral judgement is belief but claims instead that it is the expression of an emotional attitude. Noncognitivists tend to deny that moral sentences even purport to represent moral reality, and so they have developed non-standard semantics for moral discourse. Kalderon's fictionalism shows that noncognitivism can manage without such controversial semantics. (...) His book will be essential reading for anyone working in moral philosophy, and for many others working on meaning and knowledge. (shrink)
Fictionalism is the view that a serious intellectual inquiry need not aim at truth. It came to prominence in philosophy in 1980, when Hartry Field argued that mathematics does not have to be true to be good, and Bas van Fraassen argued that the aim of science is not truth but empirical adequacy. Both suggested that the acceptance of a mathematical or scientific theory need not involve belief in its content. Thus the distinctive commitment of fictionalism is that (...) acceptance in a given domain of inquiry need not be truth-normed, and that the acceptance of a sentence from the associated region of discourse need not involve belief in its content. In metaphysics fictionalism is now widely regarded as an option worthy of serious consideration. This volume represents a major benchmark in the debate: it brings together an impressive international team of contributors, whose essays represent the state of the art in various areas of metaphysical controversy, relating to language, mathematics, modality, truth, belief, ontology, and morality. (shrink)
Fictionalism has long presented an attractive alternative to both heavy-duty realist and simple eliminativist views about entities such as properties, propositions, numbers, and possible worlds. More recently, a different alternative to these traditional views has been gaining popularity: a form of deflationism that holds that trivial arguments may lead us from uncontroversial premisses to conclude that the relevant entities exist — but where commitment to the entities is a trivial consequence of other claims we accept, not a posit to (...) explain what makes the relevant claims true. The deflationist’s trivial arguments, however, have been attacked by fictionalists, who suggest that the ontological conclusions we get from these arguments should not be taken as serious ontological assertions at all, but rather as implicitly in the context of a fiction or simulation. This paper examines the fictionalist’s criticisms of ‘easy’ arguments for numbers, properties, and other entities, and concludes that they beg the question against the deflationist and so do not undermine the deflationist’s position. Close attention to the argument also reveals a crucial disanalogy between overtly fictional discourse and discourse about numbers, properties, and so on, which undermines the case for fictionalism. Finally, I argue that the motivations for fictionalism (particularly those based in its ability to offer a good account of the discourse) are served as well or better by deflationism. Overall, this gives us reason to think that deflationism may provide a preferable approach for those looking for an alternative to both traditional realism and traditional eliminativism. (shrink)
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)
Religious fictionalism is the theory that it is morally and intellectually legitimate to affirm religious sentences and to engage in public and private religious practices, without believing the content of religious claims. This article discusses the main features of fictionalism, contrasts hermeneutic, and revolutionary kinds of fictionalism and explores possible historical and recent examples of religious fictionalism. Such examples are found in recent theories of faith, pragmatic approaches to religion, and mystical traditions in religious theology.
Fictionalism plays a significant role in philosophy today, with defenses spanning mathematics, morality, ordinary objects, truth, modality, and more.1 Fictionalism in the philosophy of science is also gaining attention, due in particular to the revival of Hans Vaihinger’s work from the early twentieth century and to heightened interest in idealization in scientific practice.2 Vaihinger maintains that there is a ubiquity of fictions in science and, among other things, argues that Nietzsche supports the position. Yet, while contemporary commentators have (...) focused on fictionalism in Nietzsche’s moral philosophy, his view of fictions in science has remained largely unexamined.3 In this article, I begin... (shrink)
Fictionalism in ontology is a mixed bag. Here I focus on three main variants—which I label after the names of Pascal, Berkeley, and Hume—and consider their relative strengths and weaknesses. The first variant is just a version of the epistemic Wager, applied across the board. The second variant builds instead on the fact that ordinary language is not ontologically transparent; we speak with the vulgar, but deep down we think with the learned. Finally, on the Humean variant it’s the (...) structure of the ontological inventory, not its content, that may turn out to involve fictional elements. That is, for the Humean the fiction lies, not in the reality of common-sense ontology, but in the laws—of unity, identity, causation, etc.—in terms of which we articulate our experience of that reality. In the end, this is the kind of fictionalism that I find most interesting, sensible, and tenable. And I argue that it is even compatible with the sort of “naive” realism we have all come to appreciate in the work of Paolo Bozzi, to whom the paper is dedicated. (shrink)
Fictionalists maintain that possible worlds, numbers or composite objects exist only according to theories which are useful but false. Hale, Divers and Woodward have provided arguments which threaten to show that fictionalists must be prepared to regard the theories in question as contingently, rather than necessarily, false. If warranted, this conclusion would significantly limit the appeal of the fictionalist strategy rendering it unavailable to anyone antecedently convinced that mathematics and metaphysics concern non-contingent matters. I try to show that their arguments (...) can be resisted by developing and defending a strategy suggested by Rosen, Nolan and Dorr, according to which the fiction-operator is to be analysed in terms of a counterfactual that admits of non-trival truth-values even when the antecedent is impossible. (shrink)
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 defend mathematical and compositional fictionalism by showing that the reasons for which the incompleteness problem has been thought to affect them are mistaken. This leads to the question of whether there are other fictionalist positions to which the problem does in fact generalise. I give a general account of the features of a fictionalist position that generate the incompleteness problem and argue that whenever a fictionalist position does exemplify these features then the problem can be addressed in analogy to the modal fictionalists’ preferred response. (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.
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)
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)
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)
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”.
Is propositional religious faith constituted by belief? Recent debate has focussed on whether faith may be constituted by a positive non-doxastic cognitive state, which can stand in place of belief. This paper sets out and defends the doxastic theory. We consider and reject three arguments commonly used in favour of non-doxastic theories of faith: (1) the argument from religious doubt; (2) the use of ‘faith’ in linguistic utterances; and (3) the possibility of pragmatic faith. We argue that belief is required (...) to maintain a distinction between genuine faith, pretend faith, and fictionalist faith. (shrink)
Fictionalism about fictional characters is a view according to which all claims ostensibly about fictional characters are in fact claims about the content of a story. Claims that appear to refer to or quantify over fictional objects contain an implicit prefix of the form “according to such-and-such story. In "Fictionalism about Fictional Characters", I defended this kind of view. Over the last fourteen years, a number of criticisms have been leveled against this variety of fictionalism. This paper (...) reconsiders the initial position in light of those criticisms and attempts to answer the most trenchant of them. (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)
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)
Moral fictionalism is the doctrine that the moral claims we accept should be treated as convenient fictions. One standard kind of moral fictionalism maintains that many of the moral claims we ordinarily accept are in fact false, but these claims are still useful to produce and accept, despite this falsehood. -/- Moral fictionalists claim they can recover many of the benefits of the use of moral concepts and moral language, without the theoretical costs incurred by rivals such as (...) moral realism or traditional moral noncognitivism. These benefits might include social benefits, like being able to resolve conflict peacefully, or psychological benefits for individuals, like resisting temptations that would be harmful. (shrink)
In the recent literature there has been some debate between advocates of deflationist and fictionalist positions in metaontology. The purpose of this paper is to advance the debate by reconsidering one objection presented by Amie Thomasson against fictionalist strategies in metaontology. The objection can be reconstructed in the following way. Fictionalists need to distinguish between the literal and the real content of sentences belonging to certain areas of discourse. In order to make that distinction, they need to assign different truth-conditions (...) to the real and the literal content. But it is hard to see what more is required for the literal content to be true than for the real content to be true. So, fictionalism is an unsatisfactory position. Here I offer a novel reply to Thomasson’s challenge. I argue that the literal and the real content need not be distinguished in terms of their truth-conditions; rather, they can be distinguished in terms of their different subject-matters, leaving it open whether their truth-conditions coincide or not. I explain how replying to Thomasson’s objection is crucial for deepening our understanding of fictionalist strategies in metaontology. (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)
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 fictionalism about possible worlds moral fictionalism. R. M. Sainsbury makes extensive use of examples from fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary and examines the work of philosophers who have made significant contributions to the topic, including Meinong, David Lewis, and Bas Van Fraassen. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making _Fiction and Fictionalism_ ideal for those coming to the issue for the first time. (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)
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)
Despite protestations to the contrary, philosophers have always been renowned for espousing theories that do violence to common-sense opinion. In the last twenty years or so there has been a growing number of philosophers keen to follow in this tradition. According to these philosophers, if a story of pure fic-tion tells us that an individual exists, then there really is such an individual. According to these realists about fictional characters, ‘Scarlett O’Hara,’ ‘Char-lie Brown,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘Tweedledum’ and ‘Tweedledee’ are not (...) denotationless terms, but names that really refer. What is truly surprising about this situation is that almost no one has inveighed against this unfortunate real-ist tendency. My aim here will be to challenge this new orthodoxy, and to defend an anti-realist position against the arguments proffered by the realist. (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)
Our paper consists of three parts. In the first part we explain the concept of mental fictionalism. In the second part, we present the various versions of fictionalism and their main sources of motivation.We do this because in the third part we argue that mental fictionalism, as opposed to other versions of fictionalism, is a highly undermotivated theory.
Were I not afraid of appearing too philosophical, I should remind my reader of that famous doctrine, supposed to be fully proved in modern times, “That tastes and colours, and all other sensible qualities, lie not in the bodies, but merely in the senses.” The case is the same with beauty and deformity, virtue and vice. This doctrine, however, takes off no more from the reality of the latter qualities, than from that of the former; nor need it give any (...) umbrage either to critics or moralists. Though colours were allowed to lie only in the eye, would dyers or painters ever be less regarded or esteemed? There is a sufficient uniformity in the senses and feelings of mankind, to make all these qualities the objects of art and reasoning, and to have the greatest influence on life and manners. And as it is certain, that the discovery above-mentioned in natural philosophy, makes no alteration on action and conduct; why should a like discovery in moral philosophy make any alteration? (shrink)
This is a survey of contemporary work on ‘fictionalism in metaphysics’, a term that is taken to signify both the place of fictionalism as a distinctive anti‐realist metaphysics in which usefulness rather than truth is the norm of acceptance, and the fact that philosophers have given fictionalist treatments of a range of specifically metaphysical notions.
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)
In this book, Bradley Armour-Garb and James A. Woodbridge distinguish various species of fictionalism, locating and defending their own version of philosophical fictionalism. Addressing semantic and philosophical puzzles that arise from ordinary language, they consider such issues as the problem of non-being, plural identity claims, mental-attitude ascriptions, meaning attributions, and truth-talk. They consider 'deflationism about truth', explaining why deflationists should be fictionalists, and show how their philosophical fictionalist account of truth-talk underwrites a dissolution of the Liar Paradox and (...) its kin. They further explore the semantic notions of reference and predicate-satisfaction, showing how philosophical fictionalism can also resolve puzzles that these notions appear to present. Their critical examination of fictionalist approaches in philosophy, together with the development and application of their own brand of philosophical fictionalism, will be of great interest to scholars and upper-level students of philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophical logic, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and linguistics. (shrink)
I discuss an interpretation, recently proposed by Mark Siderits, of the claim that within the Buddhist tradition the self is a convenient fiction. I subsequently propose a novel approach to fictionalism in contemporary metaphysics, outline an application of such an approach to the case of the self and then specify one version of fictionalism combined with some basic tenets of Buddhism.
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.
A fictionalist attitude towards an area of discourse encourages us to assent to certain sentences of that discourse without believing that they are true. Prima facie, this amounts to a suggestion that we should also assent to sentences of the form 'S but I don't believe that S'. Traditional versions of fictionalism have an answer to this challenge, but I argue that the answer is unavailable for a currently popular type of fictionalism. This is bad news for (...) class='Hi'>fictionalism in general because the currently popular variety is the one that deals best with the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument. (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.
The problem of evil is typically presented as a problem – sometimes the problem – facing theistic realists. This article takes no stance on what effect (if any) the existence of evil has on the rationality of theistic belief. Instead, it explores the possibility of using the problem of evil to generate worries for some of those who reject theistic realism. Although this article focuses on the consequences for a particular kind of religious fictionalist, the lessons adduced are intended to (...) have more general application. (shrink)
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)
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)