Worlds, Triangles and Bolts: Reply to Nulty

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


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.

  • Beillard, Julien. 2010. “Triangles, Schemes and Worlds: Reply to Nulty.” Metaphysica 11:181–89.

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  • Davidson, Donald. 1984. “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.” In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 183–98. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Nulty, Timothy. 2009. “Conceptual Schemes Revisited: Davidsonian Metaphysical Pluralism.” Metaphysica 10:123–24.

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  • Nulty, Timothy. 2015. “Worlds, not Worldviews: Reply to Beillard.” Metaphysica 16:179–88.

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Metaphysica provides an international forum of ontology and metaphysics for readers all over the world. The journal is published biannually.