Why paraphrase nihilism fails
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Nihilists cannot square their position with common sense simply by paraphrasing away apparent ontological commitments in ordinary language. I argue for this claim by analogy. Paraphrase atheism says there is no God, but tries to square the truth of atheism with ordinary religious sentences by paraphrasing away apparent ontological commitments. Obviously, paraphrase does not reconcile atheism with ordinary language about God. I discuss two different reasons that paraphrase can fail and suggest that both reasons afflict paraphrase nihilism. Hence, paraphrase nihilism cannot reconcile nihilism and common sense, and so nihilists must look for some other strategy that can evade the force of the Atheism Case.
I wish to thank the following people for their generous help in improving this paper: Andrew Bailey, Nathan Ballantyne, John Keller, Jack Himelright, Joshua Rasmussen, Amy Seymour, several anonymous referees, and the members of an audience at the 2015 Central Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association.
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