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Modal fictionalism

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Title: Modal fictionalism  
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Modal fictionalism

Modal fictionalism is a term used in philosophy, and more specifically in the metaphysics of modality, to describe the position that holds that modality can be analysed in terms of a fiction about possible worlds. The theory comes in two versions: Strong and Timid. Both positions were first exposed by Gideon Rosen starting from 1990.[1]

Strong Fictionalism about Possible Worlds

According to Strong fictionalism about possible worlds (another name for Strong modal fictionalism), the following bi-conditionals are necessary and specify the truth-conditions for certain cases of modal claims:

  1. It is possible that P iff the translation of P into the language of a fiction F (containing possible worlds) holds according to F.
  2. It is necessary that P iff the translation of P into the language of a fiction F (containing possible worlds) always holds.

Recent supporters of this view added further specifications of these bi-conditionals to counter certain objections. In the case of claims of possibility, the revised bi-conditional is thus spelled out: (1.1) it is possible that P iff At this universe, presently, the translation of P into the language of a fiction F holds according to F.[2]

Timid Fictionalism about Possible Worlds

According to a timid version of fictionalism about possible worlds, our possible worlds can be properly understood as involving reference to a fiction, but the aforementioned bi-conditionals should not be taken as an analysis of certain cases of modality.

Objections and Criticisms

- The Brock/Rosen Objection

- Artificiality

This objection can be spelled out in at least two ways: artificiality as contingency or artificiality as lack of accessibility.[3]

- Hale Dilemma

- Incompleteness

- Fictional Fetishism

See also


  • "Modal fictionalism" at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • "Modal Fictionalism and Possible Worlds Semantics" at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • [1] Gideon Rosen, 'Modal Fictionalism', Mind, 99, 395 (1990), pp. 327-354.
  • [2] Seahwa Kim, 'Modal Fictionalism and Analysis', in Mark Eli Kalderon (ed.), Fictionalism in Metaphysics (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 116-33.
  • [3] Andrea Sauchelli, 'Modal Fictionalism, Possible Worlds, and Artificiality', Acta Analytica (forthcoming)

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