A Problem for Fictionalism about Possible Worlds
Rosen (Gideon)
Source: Analysis, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 71-81
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction1

  1. Every philosopher who talks seriously about modality talks about possible worlds. Some even believe what they say. Thus when David Lewis says 'Blue swans are possible because there is a world where swans are blue,' he means to commit himself to the existence of a real (but non-actual) universe inhabited by blue swans. Others believe what they say, but add that 'possible worlds' are to be identified with abstract representations within the actual world rather than concrete universes in Lewis's sense. Both genuine and 'ersatz' realists agree, however, that quantification over possible worlds in philosophy is genuine quantification, and that it is legitimate because there really is a vast plurality of possible worlds.
  2. By contrast, some philosophers have hoped to earn the right to talk about possible worlds in explaining their modal views and all the vividness and precision this entails without taking on a commitment to the existence of worlds in any sense. Forbes calls such approaches 'deflationist'.
  3. In the course of clarifying his modal views, the deflationist may say 'There are blue swan worlds'; but the proposition he thereby expresses is one which can be true even if there are no possible worlds at all besides our own.
  4. Fictionalism2 is one way to flesh out the deflationist's thought. The model here is talk about the content of narrative fictions.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Somewhat arbitrarily truncated!

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