It Ain't Easy: Fictionalism, Deflationism, and Easy Arguments in Ontology
Fictionalism and deflationism are two moderate meta-ontological positions that occupy a middle ground between the extremes of heavy-duty realism and hard-line eliminativism. Deflationists believe that the existence of certain entities (e.g. numbers) can be established by means of 'easy' arguments - arguments that, supposedly, rely solely on uncontroversial premises and trivial inferences. Fictionalists, however, find easy arguments unconvincing. Amie Thomasson has recently argued that the fictionalist's objections to easy arguments beg the question against deflationism and that the fictionalist's alternative interpretation of easy arguments is untenable. In this paper, I argue that both charges are unsubstantiated. Properly understood, the fictionalist's objection to 'easy' arguments takes the form of a dilemma - either the premises of 'easy' arguments are not truly uncontroversial or the inferences on which they rely are not truly trivial. Moreover, I argue not only that the fictionalist's interpretation of easy arguments is tenable (contrary to what Thomasson claims) but also that the fictionalist might, in fact, have a better explanation of the seemingly trivial nature of the inferences involved in easy arguments than the explanation offered by the deflationist.
Contessa, G. (2016). It Ain't Easy: Fictionalism, Deflationism, and Easy Arguments in Ontology. Mind, 125(499), 763–773. doi:10.1093/mind/fzv156