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 fictionalism7' 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 modal8 fictionalism9 plausible is what Divers has called a 'safety result': the result that translating our ordinary modal10 claims in and out of the fictional discourse of possible worlds will never lead us astray.
  5. However Divers and Hagen question whether the modal11 fictionalist is in a position to take advantage of this result. Two objections to modal12 fictionalism13 have arisen over the decade since the doctrine was first advanced.
    • According to the first objection, modal14 fictionalism15, despite surface appearances, is committed to the existence of a plurality of possible worlds.
    • According to the second objection modal16 fictionalism17 is not even consistent; its acceptance results in modal18 collapse, so that for any modal19 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, modal20 fictionalists cannot do is to avoid one or other of these objections whilst maintaining a right to the safety result that makes modal21 fictionalism22 plausible in the first place.
  7. Divers and Hagen conclude that modal23 fictionalism24 is in a serious predicament. Modal25 fictionalism26 must be rescued from this predicament if it is to be considered a genuine competitor to genuine modal27 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, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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