Existence and Independence

For this Monday we are examining general discussions of realism. This will set us up for a more pointed inquiry on Wednesday into the nature of the realist position for which Haslanger argues in her second chapter.

Preliminary Point: The state of the field.

Talk of “realism vs. antirealism” is a bit misleading. It tends to give the impression that there are two polemically divided camps of metaphysicians with the very nature of reality contested between them.

On the contrary, as both Miller (author of the SEP article) and Brock and Mares would like to suggest, questions of realism are generally localized to a particular domain and the various positions taken by realists and antirealists definitely do not constitute a clear binary.


Miller defines Generic Realism (GR) as follows:

Generic Realism:

Where a, b, c are distinctive objects of a subject matter,

A, b, and c and so one exist, and the fact that they exist and have properties such a s F-ness, G-ness and H-ness is… independent of anyone’s beliefs, linguistic practices, conceptual schemes, and so on.

Brock and Mares define Realism as follows:


Realism about a particular domain is the conjunction of the following two theses:

  1. There are facts or entities distinctive of that domain
  2. Their existence and nature is in some important sense objective and mind-independent.

Worth noting:

Brock and Mares point out that realism concerns both facts and entities and that it is possible for one to be a realist about facts in a domain, while denying that there are any real entities referenced by those facts. Miller acknowledges this (halfway through 1. Preliminaries), but does not admit such as a “realist” position. Given Brock and Mares discussion on page 2, do you think Miller’s dismissal of facts can be defended?


Broadly defined, an antirealist position denies either the existence thesis or the independence thesis. Importantly, anti-realists cannot coherently reject both theses, as the mind-dependence of any x necessitates the existence of x.


The Quinean argument for realism about existence:

  • We should believe that Fs exist if our accepted theories are ontologically committed to Fs.
  • The theories we accept are ontologically committed to Fs.

C            Therefore, we should believe that Fs exist.

However, such an argument for realism commits us to an ontology that is, in many cases, undesirable.

Quine suggests that we should either

  1. Eliminate the aspects of our theory that entail the problematic entities
  2. Paraphrase away such ontological commitments (though this sounds somewhat similar to later discussion of non-factualism, Quines intent here is that we should clarify our language, not treat it as non-referential).
  3. In the last resort, accept the ontological commitments wholeheartedly (at least insofar as they are extensions of our best current theories).

Brock and Mares go on to discuss non-classical logics as presenting further opportunities for ontological disavowal. These are a bit beside the point; however I was interested in their discussion of a “substitutional” existential qualifier (pgs. 14-15).

It seems to me that to claim that “∃x(x is a magic dragon) just is the sentence “Puff is a magic dragon””is to invoke the earlier distinction raised between realism about facts and entities. Am I wrong?


Brock and Mares lay out the antirealist position in a different way. To be an antirealist about Fs is either to:

  1. Show that our accepted theories are not ontologically committed to Fs.
  2. Or, that even if our accepted theories are ontologically committed to Fs, there is no reason to believe that Fs exist.

The antirealist strategy:

  • If Fs exists, then they must be either sui generis properties or reducible to some other kind of property.
  • If Fs are claimed to be sui generis properties, then use Parsimony.
  • If Fs are claimed to be reducible, then use Differential Attitudes to show that they are not reducible, and follow through with a knockout Parsimony.


Parsimony follows from the principle of Ockham’s Razor. Brock and Mares argue that, properly understood, the principle of Parsimony asserts that, ceteris paribus, the better theory is the one which posits qualitatively fewer entities.

Thus, superfluous kinds of entities should not be included in our theories/explanations.

Two notes on Parsimony:

Qualitative parsimony counsels minimizing the number of distinct kinds of entities: a theory which posits apples and elephants is worse (ceteris paribus) than one that posits only elephants.

Quantitative parsimony counsels minimizing the number of entities in general: a theory positing 13 apples is worse than that which posits 1 apple.

Qualitative parsimony is the one they take to be the more important form.

Further, Parsimony is to be understood as not merely a deletion rule (counseling agnosticism about the superfluous entities) but a replacement rule (counseling the replacement of belief in x with the belief in ~x). The important point here is that a mere deletion rule does not commit us to antirealism, just not realism. Quick question: why would sustained agnosticism about the reality of the world not classify one as an antirealist? At the very least it seems that you’d have to be wielding a fairly unnatural (or non-lay person) epistemology and resulting ontology. Relatedly, but distinct, is agnosticism a truly viable option in theory construction and mediation?

The antirealist argument from Parsimony is as follows:

  • Fs are superfluous to our explanatory needs.
  • If Fs are superfluous to our explanatory needs, then Fs do not exist.

C            Therefore, Fs do not exist.

It seems that premise 2 overstates the earlier intuition: that “superfluous entities should not be included in our theories/explanations” does not entail their non-existence.

However, 2 may be supported as follows:

We are entitled to the conclusions of inductive inference, especially when we are in command of the total relevant body of evidence.

An argument against the existence of an entity may be structured as such:

  • The total relevant evidence to x is represented by our observations of x.
  • Nothing observed thus far is an x.

C            Nothing is an x.

In other words: lack of evidence in support of x’s existence counts as evidence for its nonexistence.

This just is the principal of parsimony: entities which are not explanatorily necessary for a theory are superfluous and should be eliminated. Here, the evidence or lack thereof for the existence of an entity is that entity’s explanatory power. If an entity has no explanatory power, and thus there is no evidence for it, then it is not real.

However, it seems to me that there are ways to push back on this argument (although admittedly they involve denying some degree of power to induction).

First, the leap from lack of evidence for x to evidence-against the existence of x seems unsafe. Given TRE, this leap becomes safer, yet I still wonder why agnosticism about the existence of x is not the more appropriate position (now I’ve contradicted my early remarks).

Further, given what I believe to be the impossibility of ever holding TRE, isn’t agnosticism even more appropriate? Do our principles of induction really work as confidently as Brock and Mares would like to suggest?

Regardless, if Parsimony holds, then the antirealist about x has a powerful weapon against the realist about x who posits x as Sui generis.


If instead the realist claims that x is not of kind to itself, but is rather reducible to another real entity y, then the antirealist may employ the Differential Attitudes to attack x.

A quick revision to Parsimony: because reducible entities are not truly of a different kind than their reduction, they don’t add to the qualitative milieu of entities which Parsimony counsels against. Thus, Parsimony* is as follows:


Superfluous and irreducibly distinct kinds of entities should not be included in our theories.

As such, the realist is allowed to keep ontological commitments to those kinds of entities which are superfluous only in that they are reducible.

Thus, if x is reducible to a distinct and non-superfluous entity, Parsimony will not work against it.

The anti-realist about x, following the strategy above, will instead attempt to claim that x is not truly reducible and is thus irreducibly superfluous.

This is commonly done by way of Differential Attitudes (DA)

DA asserts that, as regards x, we have attitudes towards x which are dissimilar from our attitudes towards the reduced phenomena y.

The antirealist argument from DA is as follows:

  • Subjects have a certain attitude towards x.
  • Subjects do not have that same attitude towards y.

C            X is not reducible to y.

Parsimony is then employed:

  • x is irreducibly distinct.
  • X is superfluous to our explanatory needs.
  • If x is superfluous to our explanatory needs and x is irreducibly distinct, then x does not exist.

C           x does not exist.

I wonder whether this is totally watertight. It seems that the transition from “x is not reducible to y” to “x is irreducibly distinct” is not valid. Wouldn’t all possible reductions of x have to be negated?


Error Theory, see below. Generally: In domain y, statements about that domain are false, though we may believe them. “There is a gap between what we actually believe and what we should believe.” Challenges P1 of the Quinean argument above.

Prefix Fictionalism. Claims about domain y are true, but they contain an implicit prefix “according to theory z”. Thus, facts don’t really reference an underlying ontology. Theories are self-consistent fictions, and they are useful. Challenges P2 of the Quinean argument.

Instrumentalism/Fictionalism: claims about domain y are uniformly false, but this is not a problem. Our goals of discourse in domain y are not truth, but pragmatism, or some other value. Denies P1 of the Quinean argument.

Non-Factualism (expressivism): statements about a domain do not represent facts, but rather express some desire or feeling. Denies P2 of the Quinean argument.


Like Brock and Mares, Miller describes two ways in which the antirealist may reject the existence thesis in a given domain.

  1. The distinctive objects of the domain do not exist.
  2. The distinctive objects of the domain exist, but do not instantiate any of the properties distinctive of the domain.

Miller uses error theory and arithmetic to illustrate the first, and error theory and morality to illustrate the second.

Error theory is the idea that our theories about a given domain are simply wrong, when we make claims about that domain, those claims are false.

Platonic realism about numbers is the idea that numbers exist in some robustly independent sense (not causally related to human minds).

The argument against Platonic realism is pretty cool, so I’ll throw that in here:

  • Platonic arithmetic realism is true (posited for reductio ad absurdum).
  • If Platonic arithmetic realism is true, then mathematical objects are acuasal and the objects and the facts about them are mind-independent.
  • If a causal explanation of arithmetic reliability is possible, then mathematical objects are causal.
  • If a non-causal explanation of arithmetic reliability is possible, then mathematical objects and their respective fact are mind-dependent.
  • If an explanation of arithmetic reliability is possible, then it must be either causal or acausal.

C1        If Platonic arithmetic realism is true, then an explanation of arithmetic reliability is impossible.

  • If it is impossible to explain the reliability of our beliefs about a domain, then we should not believe in the reality of that domain.

C2        Platonic arithmetic realism is true, but we should not believe in the reality (strong sense) of arithmetic.

C3        Platonic arithmetic realism is not true.

I wonder whether C2 is truly absurd. Perhaps there are good reasons why we should not believe in the reality of something, even if it is real?

Miller addresses the second antirealist possibility by the example of Mackie’s moral error theory.

Suffice it to say that Mackie argues as such:

  • If there exist moral facts, then they are objectively true and categorically prescriptive facts.
  • There are no such facts.

C          Moral theories (and the facts that would follow) are not true.

Mackie’s argument is motivated by a reflection on the nature of an objective and prescriptive fact. If there were objective and prescriptive moral facts, they would be of a sort totally alien to our normal perceptions of morality. Mackie seems to suggest that in our perception of action, there is often moral ambiguity. If it were the case that moral facts existed, then they would be imminent in our experience of reality and they would prescribe courses of action (think roadsigns).

I agree with Wright’s response to Mackie’s error-theory. If Mackie is (and he is) committed to some normative understanding of morality, then why not cash out moral truth in accordance with those norms. In other words, holding moral truth to such fake heights seems disingenuous if one is also willing to accept that moral discourse is better if it leads to “social co-operation” and worse if it does not. Can’t the truth of moral facts be determined by their consequences? Would that no longer be a realist position on morality?


As mentioned above, antirealists may choose to instead attack the independence thesis of Realism.

Brock and Mares lay out two popular ways in which this has been done: Social Constructivism and Response Dependence.


The distinction between causal dependence and metaphysical dependence:

Causal dependence: A domain of Fs causally depends on us if and only if we play an essential causal role in bringing the Fs into existence; that is, the Fs would not have come into existence in the first place had human beings, and our concomitant actions, intentions and mental states not existed.​

Metaphysical dependence: A domain of Fs metaphysically depends on us if and only if the continued existence of our minds is required for the continued existence of the Fs.

Causal dependence is trivial and uninteresting to an antirealist. Metaphysical dependence is the crucial concept.

Brock and Mares cash metaphysical dependence out in terms of psychological dependence:

X is psychologically dependent if its continued existence is dependent on the existence of our minds and on the continued intention of our minds.

Thus, money is psychologically constructed and thus dependent on our minds because, were everyone in the world to forget about the concept of currency, money would cease to exist (though plenty of printed paper slips would still be running around).

This account of social construction seems quite similar to Sally Haslanger’s. For Haslanger, antirealism is unwarranted in the domain of gender dynamics because the power structures that disadvantage women are not merely metaphysically dependent on our minds, but are rather embodied by all people and materialized in our social world, to the point where they become “natural” and only causally (trivially) dependent. Is this compatible with her discussion of objectivity and objectification?


RD is the idea that some facts about entities are mind-dependent in that their a priori truth conditions implicate our mental responses to the respective entities. For example: x is humorous if x arouses laughter.

RD:  A concept F is response-dependent if and only if there is a bi-conditional of the form “x is F if and only if x is disposed to produce response R in subjects S in conditions C” that is knowable a priori.

Brock and Mares make four important points of clarification:

  1. It must be a priori. The authors suggest that affirmations of the mass of objects are somehow “too fortuitous” to count. I need further clarification on this first point, is it that this is somehow a posterior?
  2. The subject of the bi-conditional must be a mind.
  3. Germane responses only include changes of mental states.
  4. The C conditions must not be stated in a trivial “whatever it takes” way. In other words (I think) you can’t try too hard to make it seem a priori response-dependent.

Interestingly, response-dependence does not entail metaphysical dependence. Because the properties of objects which entail responses are intrinsic to those objects, it would not matter if humans ever existed, those properties would still exist.

Given that RD advocates intrinsic natures, can it really be a principle of antirealism?

Brock and Mares argue yes:

  1. Response-dependent concepts are essentially connected to mental states. RD Properties of objects exist only insofar as they are capable of producing sensations in us, given the proper back ground conditions. (Which, to address the previous worry, can include human existence).
  2. There is no reason to think that even any mind will experience the same properties of the object, only minds like ours.
  3. Because RD concepts can be known a priori to be produced within us given the proper C conditions, response dependence is infallibilist; a priori implies necessary. Infallibility is inimical to realism.

What if the realist responds to this argument by becoming a reductionist about the mind? On this account, the mind is real (though wholly reducible to brain chemistry) and red things are red because they produce the “red” response in our minds. However, it seems that by reducing the mental to the physical, the realist would have sidestepped the antirealist motivation for the notion of response dependence. Surely,  the antirealist wishes to suggest that there is something wholly fabricated, mental or even contingent (?) about our experience of some concepts. But if our experience of those concepts is determined merely by our brain chemistry, then in what way are those concepts not real? In other words, if humor is just the proper stimulation of certain neurons, how is that any less real than any other causal relationship?

11 thoughts on “Existence and Independence

  1. Jack George

    While I agree with Kyle that bringing this discussion into the realm of social categories such as race and gender is important, I am unsure whether comparing the category of gender with either that of Harry Potter or money will in fact aid us in our project. I fear this will only lead us to more ludicrous places such as the the first discussion where we spent half an hour debating the ways a woman is or is not like a water bottle — in a class that deals with feminist theory too!

    Crucially, we have to try and travel along the bridge from super-abstract contemplation of what is or what is not to the very real patterns of oppression that do exist. Whether there is a productive link remains to be seen in the Haslanger reading but I fear there may not be one.

    This is where Mackie’s theory of the erroneous nature of morality in 3. of the SEP article comes in. If all moral statements are ontologically false but deontologically necessary. Can this very removed form of epistemology be applied in any way to a discourse and a set of political values that prescribe pragmatic theory and action?

    Perhaps it is better not to even worry about what sort of category ‘gender’ is. No matter its epistemological category, it is recognized and subsides in our lives. Just because ‘good’ doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

  2. Daniel Ramirez

    “T]he important point is that from [the anthropologist’s] point of view, the facts about the distribution of [the property denoted by our use of ‘funny’] are ‘mind-dependent’ only in the sense that they supervene directly on facts about our minds. But again, this has no tendency to undermine their objectivity … [since] we have been given no reason to think that the facts about what a certain group of people would think after a certain sort of investigation are anything but robustly objective”

    Realsim vs. Antirealsim debates, as most debates within philosophy, are all about definitions. It seems like the “anthropologist” mentioned in the quote above is conducting a kind of semantic archeology. Might we be better off looking for transformations in definitions rather than defining words ourselves? An archeology of the word existence, true, or morality would be a job for an historian, not a philosopher. A philosophically inclined historian, however, might be able to find out a little more about what several philosophers have called the technologies of the self. Once our attention turns to something along those lines our definition of reality will be based a little more on our relationship to the concept reality rather than the word itself. Is that true?
    What is at stake in the realist anti realist debate?
    What exactly is at stake in the independence and existence debate? I know what they are about, I just don’t know what’s at stake.
    I was attracted to Prefix functionalism, instrumentalism and expressionism. All three seem capable of informing scientific inquiry and political action in their own way. By saying that, I’m obviously employing a bit of instrumentalism myself. I just can’t help but think about how I can really only focus on one thing at a time, my eyes can only be focused on one thing at a time. Political action and scientific inquiry seem like the best way to make me, whatever I am, feel good.

  3. Kyle Kysela

    I think it would be valuable to bring this whole discussion back to the subjects that Haslanger is interested in tackling. Like Jingyi, I found the readings a bit befuddling. And like Robbie, I found myself questioning the relevance of the realism/anti-realism debate to Haslanger’s project. Haslanger clearly sees an opportunity to apply the tool of analytic philosophy to social analysis. The important problem here, I believe, is the question of the nature of social categories. The readings came up with several examples of entities that fit into different ontic categories, for example fictional characters (Harry Potter, Puff the Magic Dragon) and money. We might want to ask, then, which of these examples most closely mirrors the categories of gender and race. Is having a gender like being a fictional character, or is it more like the category of money? If everyone in the world were to suddenly forget about the concept of gender, would something called “gender” suddenly disappear from existence? Or has it gained some kind of existential foothold from the fact that the category in turn shapes the persons and societies that hold it?

  4. Jingyi Wu

    Hi everyone,
    Today’s reading is especially confusing and slow for me because I don’t have a lot of previous experience in either Philosophy of Science or Metaphysics. So please bare with me if my questions seem basic.
    Also, good job in summarizing and raising important questions Jeremy!
    In Brock and Mares, on P2, among the examples they use to demonstrate that one can be a Realist without believing that distinctive entities exist, there is this particular example:
    One might believe it is a fact that everything that goes up must come down without believing in gravitational fields (Brock and Mares 2)
    For me, I think this “fact” comes from observation, but is not an explanation or a theory (what makes this observation possible). As far as I am concerned, I somehow think that we can only test whether a theory/explanation is real or not, but not an observation. My question thus becomes, what kind of “statements” can we put into the test of the definition of Realism (the existence & independence conditions)?

  5. Timothy Patricia

    Within the reading for this class, I am most intrigued and confused by Mackie’s error-theoretic account of morals, which he discusses in Section 3 of the SEP article. The article states, “Like Field on arithmetic, then, Mackie’s central claim about the atomic, declarative sentences of ethics (such as ‘Napoleon was evil’) is that they are systematically and uniformly false…Our moral judgements are all of them false” (3, SEP). The notion that the moral judgements we make daily are always false is unsettling to me. Mackie’s argument seems to remove significance from ethics and moral choices. If our moral claims are always false, then what is the purpose of morality? What is the point of making any decision?

    Reading Mackie’s explanation for such a radical claim, I am a bit confused — most significantly with his first premise. The premise states, “Our concept of a moral fact is a concept of an objectively prescriptive fact, so that the truth of an atomic, declarative moral sentence would require the existence of objectively and categorically prescriptive facts” (SEP, 3). With this in mind–being unsettled by the thought of moral claims as perpetually false–I want to conceive of an “objectively and categorically prescriptive fact” so I can foil Mackie and open the door for assigning truth to a moral sentence. However, I’m not sure I completely understand exactly what Mackie means by an “objectively and categorically prescriptive fact.”

  6. Leo DesBois

    On page 41, Brock and Mares present MacKinnon’s conception of the “male world” as an example of an entity that is not socially constructed because it cannot be eliminated by thinking it out of existence.

    From an individual perspective, is obvious that I cannot immediately change the notion of “man” by changing my thoughts. However, it seems equally clear that over the scope of history, notions of gender do in fact change as entire cultures adopt new attitudes, beliefs, and intentions. The “male world” of today is very different than the “male world” of 1700, and this change can be attributed to changes in human minds. So, which perspective is the most important when considering the ontology of social entities – that of the individual, that of the group within society, or that of society as a whole?

  7. Mohamed Houtti

    In section 3 of the SEP article, J.L. Mackie claims that “it is implausible to suppose that the sorts of properties that moral properties would have to be are ever instantiated in the world.” Thus, all moral claims are systematically false.

    Could the concept of a moral property merely be an abstraction of more complex physical properties that actually are instantiated in the world? For example, a word document does not have properties that are instantiated in the world. It is merely a virtual representation of the complex physical states of a computer’s hardware. Thus, when I say that my word document has page numbers I am not actually making a claim about any physical properties of my word document. Rather, I am making a claim about the physical properties of my computer’s hardware, and I can therefore give an answer that is not systematically false because the computer’s physical state can be described as an objective fact.

    In the same way, is it possible that the phrase “Napoleon is evil” might also be an abstraction of more complex properties that are instantiated in the world?

  8. Gioia Pappalardo

    In Ch3 of the Brock & Mares reading, the idea of “men” is considered not to be a construct. MacKinnon writes “no matter how [women] think about it, try to think it out of existence… No matter what they think or do, they cannot get out of it” (41). I have a few questions about this. Certainly, if the idea of “man” is based on imbalances of power and objectification, women cannot think “man” out of existence. But would it be possible if men participated too? I would imagine not, because, as Jeremy mentioned, the concept has been embodied in our world, and in a sense naturalized. But then what exactly is this embodiment? Does it become unconscious habits and behavioral patterns that we cannot consciously stop – essentially in our peripheral nervous system instead of the central nervous system? Yet, can the PNS, and more generally our unconscious mind, still be considered a part of our mind in regards to realism/anti-realism?

    On a somewhat related note, in the previous paragraph, Brock and Mares write “we could all change our minds at any point and, in virtue of that decision alone, the constructed entities would go out of existence” (41). Is this an oversimplification? Can you really change conscious beliefs automatically, without some sort of persuasion/reasoning, even if that persuasion is extremely minimal? Is there a more significant difference between this and some more involved, or at least longer “process of extermination” that would need to be used for something that was not psychologically constructed (41)? If there is not so much of a difference, then why would the requirement of changing habits or behavioral patterns make something not psychologically constructed?

  9. Robert LaCroix

    In doing the reading, I came to question the usefulness of the realist/anti-realist debate–it seems like it really doesn’t matter.

    To take Jeremy’s example of Haslanger’s argument for realism in gender dynamics, it is true that the social framework of gender dynamics has become embodied. This, however, doesn’t remove gender’s metaphysical dependence on our minds. If no one had a mind, we (meaning humanity generally) could not conceive of sets of attributes to attach to apparently female-sexed people, and, further, couldn’t make social structures in order to subordinate them. It seems absurd to talk about subordination in mindless organisms in the first place–are the male drones subordinated in an ant colony?

    On the other hand, we do in fact have minds, and it would be spurious to give the above counterfactual any credence. The fact that gender is a fiction doesn’t negate its existence, nor its explanatory power.

    I suppose that this is where parsimony comes in, but the parsimony argument doesn’t seems much epistemological than ontological–that is, the issue isn’t whether gender is real but whether it is useful in our theories (assuming that the two can be separated).

    What do the rest of you think? Is the debate over realism a variation on the age-old question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Or does it raise some important issues that I’m not seeing?

  10. Max Riddle

    In response to your final question, does reducing the mental to the physical really allow the realist to sidestep the response dependence argument? It seems that you are saying this position works because concepts (like humor) are simply caused by chemical stimuli in our brains and therefore exist external to our minds. It seems that this argument still makes humor mind-dependent. I say this because clearly there is nothing that instantiates humor in the physical chemicals themselves, so doesn’t the argument still require a “mind” for the chemicals to work on to experience the qualia of humor? Response dependence does entail that “properties of objects which entail responses are intrinsic to those objects.” By becoming a reductionist does the realist reduce consciousness to the physical as well and invite a host of other debates in the realm of philosophy of mind?

    I may simply need some further clarification on the response dependence argument. This would be helpful.

    Additionally, how is it that properties of objects which cause a response would exist without humans in the case of humor?

    1. Griffin Jones

      In reading Brock and Mares I found myself continuously returning to the issue of realism concerning facts. As Jeremy pointed out, Brock and Mares permit the possibility “for one to be a realist about facts in a domain, while denying that there are any real entities referenced by those facts.” Initially I found myself compelled to agree with this model. It feels natural to me accept as fact that Puff is a magic dragon or that Harry Potter is a wizard, while of course I do don’t believe in the real existence of such entities as magic dragons and wizards. However, by Brock and Mares definition, realism concerning a domain necessitates that the existence and nature of the facts and entities distinctive of the domain is “in some important sense objective and mind-independent.” And when I consider the fictional beings Puff and Harry Potter, I can’t help but imagine them as metaphysically dependent. Brock and Mares approach this sort of dependence as psychological dependence. As Jeremy wrote in his initial post, “X is psychologically dependent if its continued existence is dependent on the existence of our minds and on the continued intention of intention of our minds.” I’m inclined to believe that fictional characters like Puff and Harry fit this bill. Is it possible to be a realist about facts concerning things that are metaphysically or psychologically dependent? Some clarification on these topics would be great.

      The device of a substitution instance in non-classical logic seems like a potentially interesting and useful way to approach this question, but I am hesitant like Brock and Mares to take such an angle. I don’t think it is exactly the same as invoking the distinction between realism about facts and entities, but rather that it might present a vehicle for permitting the acceptance of real facts concerning things whose metaphysical dependence must be considered. Here again I am concerned that I might be misinterpreting the content of the arguments at hand. Is the substitution instance device deserving of merit as a route to ontological disavowal?

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