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Why Modal Fictionalism Is Not Self-Defeating

Richard Woodward
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 139, No. 2 (May, 2008), pp. 273-288
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27734260
Page Count: 16
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Why Modal Fictionalism Is Not Self-Defeating
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Abstract

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 commzitting 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.

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