The Modal Fictionalist Predicament
Divers (John) & Hagen (Jason)
Source: MacBride - Identity and Modality, 2006, Chapter 3
Paper - Abstract

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Editor’s Introduction1

  1. In 'The Modal2 Fictionalist Predicament', John Divers and Jason Hagen turn to consider the metaphysics of modality3 itself.
  2. According to 'genuine modal4 realism', the metaphysical status of modal5 statements is rendered perspicuous by translating claims about what is possible into (counterpart- theoretic) claims about possible worlds. But the doctrine that there really are such outlandish entities as possible worlds encounters familiar metaphysical and epistemological difficulties.
  3. However the adherents of 'modal6 fictionalism' maintain that the benefits of possible worlds discourse may be secured without these associated costs. They attempt to achieve this by conceiving of possible worlds discourse as itself just an immensely useful fiction that does not commit us to the existence of possible worlds.
  4. Part of what makes modal7 fictionalism plausible is what Divers has called a 'safety result': the result that translating our ordinary modal8 claims in and out of the fictional discourse of possible worlds will never lead us astray.
  5. However Divers and Hagen question whether the modal9 fictionalist is in a position to take advantage of this result. Two objections to modal10 fictionalism have arisen over the decade since the doctrine was first advanced.
    • According to the first objection, modal11 fictionalism, despite surface appearances, is committed to the existence of a plurality of possible worlds.
    • According to the second objection modal12 fictionalism is not even consistent; its acceptance results in modal13 collapse, so that for any modal14 claim X, both X and not-X are true.
  6. Divers and Hagen argue that each objection may be avoided by deft handling of the doctrine. But what, they maintain, modal15 fictionalists cannot do is to avoid one or other of these objections whilst maintaining a right to the safety result that makes modal16 fictionalism plausible in the first place.
  7. Divers and Hagen conclude that modal17 fictionalism is in a serious predicament. Modal18 fictionalism must be rescued from this predicament if it is to be considered a genuine competitor to genuine modal19 realism.
  1. Introduction
  2. Two Objections and One Benefit
  3. The First Development
  4. The Second Development
  5. Conclusion

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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