Buddhist Reductionism, Fictionalism, and Expressibility
Laura Guerrero (Utah Valley University)

April 2, 2020, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley

3335 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley 94720
United States

Sponsor(s):

  • Center for Buddhist Studies
  • Department of Philosophy

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University of California, Berkeley

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While committed to the view that Buddhist Reductionism offers the best account of the Abhidharma distinction of the two truths, Mark Siderits (2009) argues that Buddhist Reductionism has the surprising consequence of making itself inexpressible. This inexpressibility follows from the semantic insulation between conventional and ultimate discourses that Siderits argues is required in order to preserve classical logic for both types of discourse, avoiding contradiction and bivalence failure. I argue that inexpressibility is a problematic consequence that threatens to constitute a reductio of Buddhist Reductionism. However, there is an alternative fictionalist formulation of Buddhist Reductionism, similar to the one offered by Goodman (2005) that still captures the sense in which conventional discourse supervenes on ultimate discourse while avoiding the concerns that motivated the semantic insulation that rendered mixed vocabulary discourse inexpressible. Thus, I argue that Buddhist Reductionism can be, when properly formulated, both expressible and ultimately true.

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