Mental fictionalism

In Tamas Demeter, T. Parent & Adam Toon (eds.), Mental Fictionalism: Philosophical Explorations. Routledge. pp. 27-51 (2022)
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There is an uneasy tension between our ordinary talk about beliefs and desires and the ontological facts supported by neuroscience. Arguments for eliminative materialism can be fairly persuasive, yet error theory about folk psychological discourse may be unacceptable. One solution is to accept mental fictionalism: the view that we are (or should be) fictionalists about mentality. My aim in this paper is to explore mental fictionalism as a viable theoretical option, and to show that it has advantages over other fictionalist views in the literature, as well as advantages over other theories of mind. However, mental fictionalism faces particular objections that do not plague other fictionalist accounts, nor other theories of the mind. These objections may provide some explanation as to why mental fictionalism has not (until recently) gained much traction in the literature. I end with some suggestions on how the mental fictionalist can address these objections, hopefully paving the way for further development of mental fictionalism as a live philosophical position in philosophy of mind.

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Meg Wallace
University of Kentucky


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