Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Philosophy Dept.


Daniel H. Cohen


Epistemological and Ontological commitments have been at times difficult to separate in the discussion above, yet they are a focal point of the argument. At times the difficulty of separating them has arisen from their interrelated nature. Realism represents failures in both epistemological and ontological commitments. As a result of unacceptable ontological commitments (existing possible worlds despite isolation) realism also has unacceptable epistemological commitments. A great deal has been said about why fictionalism is so difficult to accept, and it is for these two sets of commitments that are central to the theory despite the isolation of possible worlds. Some may argue that the epistemological commitments from realism come from a priori knowledge. However, as a result of isolation we cannot presume that a priori reasoning provides knowledge of actual worlds. In fact, isolation understood as complete and total isolation restricts any knowledge of possible worlds. Fictionalism treats our isolation from possible worlds with an understanding of this isolation. If we cannot truly know what a possible world is or what truths there are about them, then our discussions of possibility and necessity are simply fictions that we tell. Moreover, fictionalism has valid ontological and epistemological commitments. They are simply that our fictions exist and the truths according to our fictions respectively. Fictionalism has the same epistemological commitments except because they are grounded in acceptable ontological commitments they themselves are acceptable.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.