S.I.: MODELING AND REPRESENTATION
Making worlds with symbols
Received: 4 February 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract I modify and generalize Carnap’s notion of frameworks as a way of unpack-
ing Goodman’s metaphor of “making worlds with symbols”. My frameworks provide,
metaphorically, a way of making worlds out of symbols in as much as all our
framework-bound access to the world is through frameworks that always stand to be
improved in accuracy, precision, and usually both. Such improvement is characterized
in pragmatist terms.
Keywords Frameworks · Common ground · Disciplinary matrices · Inexact models ·
Scientiﬁc realism · Perspectival realism
1 “Making worlds with symbols” as a metaphor for frameworks
and what we do with them
How might we understand Goodman’s provocative “Making worlds with symbols”?
First, “worlds” is contentious. van Fraassen (2002, pp. 5–25) explores the far ﬂung uses
of the term and suggests a down-to-earth usage as indicating a domain of quantiﬁcation
(p. 22), as in “Everyone in the world of fashion”, or “in the world of poultry”. (p. 21)
Such appeal to “worlds” indicates domains in an extremely loose and open-ended way.
(Does the world of poultry include the chickens?)
But what to make of the “making”? Goodman’s Ways of World Making (1978)is
as much about metaphorical as about literal truths. So I will address “making worlds
with symbols” as a metaphor. As a guide to unpacking this metaphor I will offer four
Department of Philosophy, University of California at Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616,