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Realistic fictionalism

Jay, CT; (2012) Realistic fictionalism. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Realistic Fictionalism, argues for two main claims: First, that there is no conceptual or logical incoherence in the idea of a fictionalist theory of some discourse which accommodates a form of realism about that discourse (a claim which has been made in passing by various people, but which has never been adequately explored and assessed); and Second, that just such a fictionalist theory promises to be the best theory of our ordinary moral commitments, judgements and deliberation. In Part I, I explore the spirit of fictionalism and argue that thinking of fictionalism as closely tied to an analogy between its target discourse and fiction is liable to be misleading and is not mandatory. It emerges that the fictionalist’s strategy requires just a semantic thesis (representationalism) and a thesis about the sort of ‘acceptance’ appropriate for some practice involving their target discourse (nondoxasticism). I offer a theory of what ‘acceptance’ is, which treats belief as a mode of acceptance and distinguishes the nondoxastic modes of acceptance from belief in a principled and independently plausible way. And I argue that the coherence of realistic fictionalism is preserved by the fact that a person (the realistic fictionalist) can perfectly coherently both believe and nondoxastically accept the same claims. In Part II, I employ the theory of acceptance developed in Part I to propose a fictionalist model of how our ordinary moral commitments often are and generally ought to be. I then give an argument to the conclusion that, in respect of the relation between moral commitment and action guiding at least, it would be better if our moral commitments were to be nondoxastic. I then argue that realistic fictionalism offers a better way of explaining why we ought to have any moral commitments at all than a non-realist fictionalist theory could.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Realistic fictionalism
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Keywords:Fictionalism, Metaethics, Noncognitivism, Moral Commitment
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy

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