Literal Truth and the Habits of Sherlock Holmes

Because names from fiction, names like ‘Sherlock Holmes’, fail to refer, and because it has been supposed that all simple predicative sentences including a sentence like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’ will be true if and only if the referent of the name has the property encoded by the predicate, many philosophers have denied that the sentence or an utterance of the sentence ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’ could be true, or at least, it cannot be true taken at face value. Despite this, natural language speakers appear to engage in sensible conversations using these kinds of sentences, and appear to convey information to one another in doing so. At least one response open to the the pure non-literalist is to maintain that the utterances of the sentences by speakers engaged in such conversations are literally false, but that those utterances should be interpreted as pragmatically conveying information about what is true according to the story. First, I argue that these pragmatically oriented story operator accounts cannot capture all of the true readings of an utterance of a sentence like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’. Indeed, as I also note, these objections apply to any story operator account of fictional discourse, semantic versions too. Second, I offer arguments that not only are there other true readings, but that those readings should be taken as what is literally said by speakers in uttering sentences like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’.
Keywords Fictional names  Story operators  Literal truth  Semantics  Pragmatics
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Heidi Savage, Literal Truth and the Habits of Sherlock Holmes
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Peter Alward (2011). Description, Disagreement, and Fictional Names. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):423-448.
Neil Feit (2009). Naming and Nonexistence. Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (3):239-262.
Jeffrey Goodman (2004). A Defense of Creationism in Fiction. Grazer Philosophische Studien 67 (1):131-155.
Andrew Terjesen (2012). Was It Morally Wrong to Kill Off Sherlock Holmes? In Philip Tallon & David Baggett (eds.), The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes. University Press of Kentucky.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

157 ( #5,658 of 1,140,333 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #46,721 of 1,140,333 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.