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Conciliationism and Fictionalism

Organon F, 2018, vol. 25, No 4, pp. 456-472.
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This paper offers fictionalism as a new approach to the problem of reasonable disagreement discussed in social epistemology. The conciliationist approach to reasonable disagreement is defined, and three problems with it are posed: that it is destructive of inquiry, self-defeating, and unacceptably revisionary. Hans Vaihinger’s account of fictions is explained, and it is shown that if the intellectual commitments that are the subject of reasonable disagreements are treated as fictions rather than as beliefs, the three noted problems are avoided. Whereas beliefs have a “rivalrous” relation to the source of their justification (evidence), fictions have a non-rivalrous relation to the source of their justification (expediency), meaning that disagreement over which fictions to employ is not problematic in the way that disagreement over what to believe is. Some objections to the fictionalist approach to reasonable disagreement are answered.

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