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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q035-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

‘Fictionalism’ generally refers to a pragmatic, antirealist position in the debate over scientific realism. The use of a theory or concept can be reliable without the theory being true and without the entities mentioned actually existing. When truth (or existence) is lacking we are dealing with a fiction. Thus fictionalism is a corollary of instrumentalism, the view that what matters about a theory is its reliability in practice, adding to it the claim that science often employs useful fictions. Perhaps the fullest expression of fictionalism occurs in Vaihinger’s once popular philosophy of ‘as if’.

Citing this article:
Fine, Arthur. Fictionalism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q035-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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