Against representations with two directions of fit

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The idea that there are representations with a double direction of fit has acquired a pride of place in contemporary debates on the ontology of institutions. This paper will argue against the very idea of anything at all having both directions of fit. There is a simple problem which has thus far gone unnoticed. The suggestion that there are representations with both directions of fit amounts to a suggestion that, in cases of discrepancy between a representation and the world, both should change—the representation and the world. But that would merely amount to another discrepancy, and so both should change again, ad infinitum. The paper will first elucidate the notion of a “direction of fit” and clarify how the criticism to be presented here differs from earlier criticisms (Section 1).The next section sheds some light on why and how acts and attitudes with both directions of fit have seemed to play a part in explaining the existence of institutional reality (Section 2). The next sections present the argument against any representations with both directions of fit, relying on a normative understanding of the distinction. The argument will have three steps (Sections 3, 4, and 5). The section that follows shows that the criticism also applies to the dispositional understanding of the notion of a direction of fit (Section 6), and then the paper asks whether a third kind of reading would be available (Section 7) and whether the infallibility of the relevant representations would be of help (Section 8). Finally, the paper assesses briefly the consequences of dropping the notion of two directions of fit (Section 9).
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Archival date: 2017-04-07
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