Fictionalism, the Safety Result and counterpossibles

Analysis 79 (4):647-658 (2019)
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Abstract

Fictionalists maintain that possible worlds, numbers or composite objects exist only according to theories which are useful but false. Hale, Divers and Woodward have provided arguments which threaten to show that fictionalists must be prepared to regard the theories in question as contingently, rather than necessarily, false. If warranted, this conclusion would significantly limit the appeal of the fictionalist strategy rendering it unavailable to anyone antecedently convinced that mathematics and metaphysics concern non-contingent matters. I try to show that their arguments can be resisted by developing and defending a strategy suggested by Rosen, Nolan and Dorr, according to which the fiction-operator is to be analysed in terms of a counterfactual that admits of non-trival truth-values even when the antecedent is impossible.

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Lukas Skiba
Universit├Ąt Hamburg

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