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International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

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Worlds, Triangles and Bolts: Reply to Nulty

1Department of Philosophy, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada

Citation Information: Metaphysica. Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 131–141, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2016-0004, March 2016

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In his 2009 paper Conceptual Schemes Revisited, Timothy Nulty argues that Davidson’s philosophy affords an argument for metaphysical pluralism, the theory that there are many actual worlds. In my (2010) reply, I charge that the argument depends on an unacceptable conflation of worlds and world-views: at most, we may infer from some of Davidson’s views that inhabitants of a shared world may conceive of it in radically different ways. In his most recent (2015) discussion of these issues, Nulty offers a fuller version of his argument for the conclusion that (if Davidson is right) their worlds might differ, and not merely their world-views, resting on the formerly suppressed premise that “to be is to be a possible intentional object”. He reckons that, if thinkers triangulate in very different ways, the intentional objects possible for one thinker or group may not be possible for some others; it may then follow that their worlds are different too. Against this fuller version of the argument, I here present two objections: first, Nulty’s ontological principle is incompatible with all kinds of causal truths about different kinds of actual thinkers; second, if it were true, we could not coherently explain the kind of situation that Nulty and I both take to generate interesting differences in world-view.

Keywords: conceptual schemes; verification; world-views; worlds; Donald Davidson

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