Article

Fictionalism

David Liggins

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0034
Fictionalism

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The term “fictionalism” is defined in many different ways. The most common definition is along these lines: fictionalism about a discourse claims that the sentences of the discourse are useful but does not claim that they are true. Typically, fictionalists will deny that sentences of the discourse are true. Thus a fictionalist in the philosophy of mathematics may say that mathematical sentences (such as “2 + 2 = 4”) are useful but false: numbers are (in some sense) “useful fictions.” Fictionalists will typically recommend that we should carry on using the sentences in question, accepting them without believing them. This is known as “revolutionary fictionalism.” According to “hermeneutic fictionalism,” we do not currently believe what the sentences say (even if we seem to believe them). Fictionalist approaches have been discussed with respect to many different discourses. This bibliography provides a highly selective guide to the burgeoning literature, chosen on the basis of importance, influence, and accessibility. Fictionalist accounts of mathematical, moral, and possible-worlds talk have been the subject of especially intense debate; but fictionalist treatments of a great number of other discourses have been offered. It is worth noting that fictionalist positions are not always given the name “fictionalism.”

Article.  4376 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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