The Ghost is the Thing: Can Fiction Reveal Audience Belief?

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 34 (1):219-239 (2010)
Can fictions sometimes reveal important information about what beliefs audience members hold? I argue that a case can be made that emotional responses to some horror fictions can reveal that audiences harbor beliefs in the supernatural, beliefs that audience members might otherwise deny holding. To clarify the terms of the discussion, I begin with an overview of two leading theories of belief: the representational and dispositional accounts. I explore the role of belief in the production of emotional responses by posing a hard question that none of the leading theories answers directly: Why are some fictional scenarios and events so much more effective than others? I argue that the answer has to do with belief, that is, the beliefs about the world that audiences bring to fictions. After laying the groundwork, I argue that cultural differences in audience responses to some horror fictions might be best explained by what supernatural beliefs they hold. After developing the case, I offer several reasons to be skeptical of this conclusion.
Keywords horror  paradox of fiction  belief  ghosts
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4975.2010.00201.x
 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
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,280
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

64 ( #74,786 of 1,932,495 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

12 ( #73,789 of 1,932,495 )

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.