Fictionalism is a methodological theory in philosophy that suggests that statements of a certain sort should not be taken to be literally true, but merely as a useful fiction. Two important strands of fictionalism are modal fictionalism (which states that possible worlds, regardless of whether they exist or not, may be a part of a useful discourse) and mathematical fictionalism, which states that talk of numbers and other mathematical objects is nothing more than a convenience for doing science. Also in meta-ethics, there is an equivalent position called moral fictionalism.
Fictionalism consists in at least the following three theses:
- Claims made within the domain of discourse are taken to be truth-apt; that is, true or false.
- The domain of discourse is to be interpreted at face value--not reduced to meaning something else.
- The aim of discourse in any given domain is not truth, but some other virtue(s) (e.g., simplicity, explanatory scope).
- Balaguer, Mark (1998). Platonism and Anti-Platonism in Mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195143980.
- Kalderon, Mark (2005). Moral Fictionalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 9780199275977.
- Modal Fictionalism entry by Daniel Nolan in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007-12-11
- Fictionalism entry by Matti Eklund in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007-03-30
- Mathematical fictionalism entry by Mark Balaguer in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008-04-22
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