Characters and contingency

One way creatures of fiction seem to differ from real things is in their essential properties. While you and I might not have done many of the things we did do, Anna Karenina could not, surely, have been other than a lover of Vronsky. Is that right? Not straightforwardly: while it is true that “Necessarily, someone who was not a lover of Vronsky would not be Anna”, it is also true that “Someone who was necessarily a lover of Vronsky would not be Anna”. I use a framework developed by Stalnaker to explain this, and to shed light on the semantics of fictional names.
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