About this topic
Summary We routinely appear to quantify over and refer to fictionals characters. For example, it appears to be true that there are characters in some 19th-century novels who are presented with a greater wealth of physical detail than is any character in any 18th-century novel. Such reference and quantification appears to commit us to an ontology of fictional characters. But what are these things? A clue and another argument for realism is that it is true that Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes. So fictional characters look to be artifacts, but how can this be? Realists about fictional characters try to provide a clear account of the nature of these characters. The realist, however, faces a problem since it is also true that Sherlock Holmes does not exist. So there seem to be sentences that pull us to realism and sentences that push us toward irrealism. 
Key works Parsons 1980 provides an account of fictional characters as eternal Meinongian non-existent objects. Construed as such, fictional characters have clear identity conditions. Such a treatment is found by many to be implausible in the extreme. A more popular view treats fictional characters as created. Kripke 2013 provides the intuitive case for an ontology of fictional characters as abstract artifacts. Thomasson 1998 takes up these themes and develops them in more detail. Such realism faces two serious threats, both of which have been pushed by Anthony Everett. First, how can the realist account for true fictional negative existentials (Everett 2007), second can they provide a coherent metaphysics (Everett 2005)?
Introductions Friend 2007. For a book-length treatment see Sainsbury 2009.
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342 found
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  1. Meinongian Merits and Maladies.Samuel Hoadley-Brill - manuscript
    According to what has long been the dominant school of thought in analytic meta-ontology––defended not only by W. V. O. Quine, but also by Bertrand Russell, Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, and many others––the meaning of ‘there is’ is identical to the meaning of ‘there exists.’ The most (in)famous aberration from this view is advanced by Alexius Meinong, whose ontological picture has endured extensive criticism (and borderline abuse) from several subscribers to the majority view. Meinong denies the identity of being (...)
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  2. Inauthentic Devotion to the Eucharist in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus.Adolphus Ekedimma Amaefule - forthcoming - Heythrop Journal.
    Catholics normally approach the Eucharist with great love and devotion. The paper looks at how, through the character, Papa, the reality of this love and devotion to the Eucharist is captured by the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie, in her novel, Purple Hibiscus . The novel reveals that while Papa, in various ways, shows great love and devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, his devotion remains inauthentic: it does not lead him to a love of this same Christ in his neighbour. (...)
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  3. The Language of Fiction.Emar Maier & Andreas Stokke (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    This volume brings together new research on fiction from the fields of philosophy and linguistics. Fiction has long been a topic of interest in philosophy, but recent years have also seen a surge in work on fictional discourse at the intersection between linguistics and philosophy of language. In particular, there has been a growing interest in examining long-standing issues concerning fiction from a perspective that is informed both by philosophy and linguistic theory. Following a detailed introduction by the editors, The (...)
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  4. Masks, Names and Characters in New Comedy.P. G. McC - forthcoming - Hermes.
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  5. Review of Brock and Everett (Eds.) Fictional Objects. [REVIEW]Lee Walters - forthcoming - British Journal of Aesthetics.
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  6. Fictional Discourse: A Radical Fictionalist Semantics By Stefano Predelli. [REVIEW]Thomas Hodgson - 2021 - Analysis.
    Fictional Discourse: A Radical Fictionalist Semantics By PredelliStefanoOxford University Press, 2020. viii + 184 pp.
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  7. Modal Meinongianism and Object Theory.Francesco Berto, Filippo Casati, Naoya Fujikawa & Graham Priest - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Logic 17 (1):1.
    We reply to various arguments by Otavio Bueno and Edward Zalta against Modal Meinongianism, including that it presupposes, but cannot maintain, a unique denotation for names of fictional characters, and that it is not generalizable to higher-order objects. We individuate the crucial difference between Modal Meinongianism and Object Theory in the former’s resorting to an apparatus of worlds, possible and impossible, for the representational purposes for which the latter resorts to a distinction between two kinds of predication, exemplification and encoding. (...)
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  8. There Are No I-Beliefs or I-Desires at Work in Fiction Consumption and This is Why.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - In Explaining Imagination. Oxford: pp. 210-233.
    Currie’s (2010) argument that “i-desires” must be posited to explain our responses to fiction is critically discussed. It is argued that beliefs and desires featuring ‘in the fiction’ operators—and not sui generis imaginings (or "i-beliefs" or "i-desires")—are the crucial states involved in generating fiction-directed affect. A defense of the “Operator Claim” is mounted, according to which ‘in the fiction’ operators would be also be required within fiction-directed sui generis imaginings (or "i-beliefs" and "i-desires"), were there such. Once we appreciate that (...)
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  9. ‘Vivaldi for Gorillas”: Seeking Aesthetics in Adversity.Venkat Ramanan - 2020 - Aesthetics Research Lab 1.
    Why does someone reach for beauty in circumstances of adversity when it is usually presumed that staying alive presupposes all else?
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  10. I Do Not Believe in Meigas, but There Are Such. A Meinongian Empirical Case Based on Galician ‘Meigas’.Olga Ramirez Calle - 2020 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 27 (1):4-20.
    This paper aspires to meet a philosophical challenge posed to the author to give treatment to what was seen as a particularly nice Meinongian case1; namely the case of Galician Meigas. However, through the playful footpaths of enchanted Galician Meigas, I rehabilitate some relevant discussion on the justification of belief formation and come to some poignant philosophical insights regarding the understanding of possibilities. I hope both the leading promoter of the challenge and, of course, other philosophical readers are satisfied with (...)
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  11. J K Rowling зла, чем я? (пересмотрено 2019 ).Michael Richard Starks - 2020 - In ДОБРО ПОЖАЛОВАТЬ В АД НА НАШЕМ МИРЕ : Дети, Изменение климата, Биткойн, Картели, Китай, Демократия, Разнообразие, Диссигеника, Равенство, Хакеры, Права человека, Ислам, Либерализм, Процветание, Сеть, Хаос, Голод, Болезнь, Насилие, Искусственный интелле. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 252-256.
    Как насчет другого взять на богатых и знаменитых? Во-первых, очевидное - романы о Гарри Поттере - это примитивные суеверия, которые побуждают детей верить в фантазию, а не брать на себя ответственность за мир - норма, конечно. JKR как раз как clueless о себе и мире как большинств люди,но около 200 времен как разрушительно как средний американец и около 800 времен больше чем средний китаец. Она несет ответственность за уничтожение, может быть, 30000 гектаров леса для производства этих романов мусора и все (...)
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  12. Truth in Fiction, Impossible Worlds, and Belief Revision.Francesco Berto & Christopher Badura - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):178-193.
    We present a theory of truth in fiction that improves on Lewis's [1978] ‘Analysis 2’ in two ways. First, we expand Lewis's possible worlds apparatus by adding non-normal or impossible worlds. Second, we model truth in fiction as belief revision via ideas from dynamic epistemic logic. We explain the major objections raised against Lewis's original view and show that our theory overcomes them.
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  13. Normative Fiction‐Making and the World of the Fiction.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (3):267-279.
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  14. Singular Reference in Fictional Discourse?Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (54):143-177.
    Singular terms used in fictions for fictional characters raise well-known philosophical issues, explored in depth in the literature. But philosophers typically assume that names already in use to refer to “moderatesized specimens of dry goods” cause no special problem when occurring in fictions, behaving there as they ordinarily do in straightforward assertions. In this paper I continue a debate with Stacie Friend, arguing against this for the exceptionalist view that names of real entities in fictional discourse don’t work there as (...)
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  15. "Верблюдът" Радичков: въображението като реалност.Vasil Penchev - 2019 - In Пламен Антов (ed.), Магическият реализъм. Sofia: pp. 69-86.
    The text aims to explain Radichkov's special magical capaЬility of creating imaginary worlds. His words do not mean any external reality to which they refer. Тhеу themselves are reality. Radickov's language consists of "ontological quanta". Any ontological quantum means both reality and а certain image of it, indivisiЫe and indistinguishaЫe from each other. Here we сап also involve non-Saussurean semiotics. The signifier and the signified are indivisiЫe and complementary in any sign. The meanings are areas of agreement between human beings. (...)
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  16. Mary Wilkins Freeman’s “Louisa” and the Problem of Female Choice.Judith P. Saunders - 2019 - Philosophy and Literature 43 (2):466-481.
    In her 1890 short story “Louisa,” Mary Wilkins Freeman explores nepotistic interference with female mate selection. Twenty-five-year-old Louisa Britton is pressured by her mother to marry against her inclinations, that is, to accept a suitor whom she does not “like.”1 The focal point of Freeman’s plot is the ensuing mother-daughter conflict, an evolutionarily significant issue that invites readers to consider the questions it raises in larger terms: What motivates parents to interfere with a daughter’s mating decisions? Is a parent’s assessment (...)
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  17. Explaining Fictional Characters.Tatjana von Solodkoff - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    Fictional characters are awkward creatures. They are described as being girls, detectives, and cats; as being famous, based on real people, and well developed, and as being paradigmatic examples of things that don’t exist. It’s not hard to see that there are tensions between these various descriptions—how can something that is a detective not exist?—and there is a range of views designed to make sense of the pre-theoretical data. Fictional realists hold that we should accept that fictional characters are part (...)
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  18. Who Do We Think We Are?Andrea C. Westlund - 2019 - Philosophy and Literature 43 (1):173-191.
    Our moral lives are replete with acts of autobiographical story-telling. The stories we tell are intended to help others understand what we do by helping them understand “who we are” in a practical or normative sense. The act of addressing one’s stories to an audience, however, is as likely to destabilize as it is to confirm one’s understanding of “who one is”. Drawing on themes in Wally Lamb’s novel I Know This Much is True, I offer a dialogical account of (...)
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  19. The Character of Huckleberry Finn.Kristina Gehrman - 2018 - Philosophy and Literature 42 (1):125-144.
    Ever since Jonathan Bennett wrote about Huckleberry Finn's conscience in 1974, Mark Twain's young hero has played a small but noteworthy role in the moral philosophy and moral psychology literature. Following Bennett, philosophers read Huck as someone who consistently follows his heart and does the right thing in a pinch, firmly believing all the while that what he does is morally wrong.1 Specifically, according to this reading, Huck has racist beliefs that he never consciously questions; but in practice he consistently (...)
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  20. Fictional Names and Semantics: Towards a Hybrid View.Daniela Glavaničová - 2018 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Objects of Inquiry in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics. pp. 59-74.
    Are there fictional characters? Realists suggest that there are such entities, but these are non-concrete, non-actual or non-existent. Antirealists avoid this assumption by suggesting that fictional discourse is not to be taken at face value. However, any of these camps faces some serious troubles. This paper proposes a hybrid account that combines features of realism with features of antirealism. In particular, the semantic distinction between de dicto and de re is employed, and the resulting view suggests de dicto (role) realism (...)
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  21. Conversational Exculpature.Daniel Hoek - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (2):151-196.
    Conversational exculpature is a pragmatic process whereby information is subtracted from, rather than added to, what the speaker literally says. This pragmatic content subtraction explains why we can say “Rob is six feet tall” without implying that Rob is between 5'0.99" and 6'0.01" tall, and why we can say “Ellen has a hat like the one Sherlock Holmes always wears” without implying Holmes exists or has a hat. This article presents a simple formalism for understanding this pragmatic mechanism, specifying how, (...)
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  22. Through a Telescreen Darkly.Lavinia Marin - 2018 - In Ezio Di Nucci & Stefan Storrie (eds.), 1984 and philosophy, is resistance futile? Open Court. pp. 187-198.
    “It was a peculiarly beautiful book. its smooth creamy paper, a little yellowed by age, was of a kind that had not been manufactured for at least forty years past. . . . Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising possession. The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would (...)
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  23. Fictional, Metafictional, Parafictional.François Recanati - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (1):25-54.
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  24. Символіка образу пса у прозі Сергія Жадана.Snizhana Umanets - 2018 - NaUKMA Researh Papers. Literary Studies 1:110-113.
  25. Ритуально-міфологічний субстрат у романі Ґ. Майрінка «Ґолем».Larysa Yatchenko - 2018 - NaUKMA Researh Papers. Literary Studies 1:143-147.
  26. Is Clarissa Dalloway Special?R. Lanier Anderson - 2017 - Philosophy and Literature 41 (1A):233-271.
    My title question has something of the feel of a book club discussion starter, but it has further-reaching implications for understanding Mrs. Dalloway than might first appear. Consider two more mainstream interpretive questions. First, Virginia Woolf's novel places extensive cognitive and aesthetic demands on its readers and thereby participates in the famous "difficulty" of much high-modernist literature. Any interpretation should explain why Woolf thought such a challenge to the capacities and expectations of the reader was necessary or conducive to her (...)
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  27. Fictional Objects, Edited by Stuart Brock and Anthony Everett: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, Pp. Vii + 299, £45. [REVIEW]Emily Caddick Bourne - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):810-813.
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  28. Fictional Realism and Metaphysically Indeterminate Identity.Wouter A. Cohen - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):511-519.
    Fictional realists maintain that fictional characters are part of the world’s ontology. In an influential article, Anthony Everett argues that the fictional realist is thereby committing herself to problematic entities. Among these are entities that are indeterminately identical. Recently, Ross Cameron and Richard Woodward have answered Everett’s worry using the same strategy. They argue that the fictional realist can bypass the problematic identities by contending that they are merely semantically indeterminate. This paper concisely surveys Everett’s original argument, Cameron’s and Woodward’s (...)
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  29. Abstract Generationism: A Response to Friedell.Wesley D. Cray - 2017 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (3):289-292.
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  30. Tichý and Fictional Names.Daniela Glavaničová - 2017 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 24 (3):384-404.
    The paper examines two possible analyses of fictional names within Pavel Tichý’s Transparent Intensional Logic. The first of them is the analysis actually proposed by Tichý in his (1988) book The Foundations of Frege’s Logic. He analysed fictional names in terms of free variables. I will introduce, explain, and assess this analysis. Subsequently, I will explain Tichý’s notion of individual role (office, thing-to-be). On the basis of this notion, I will outline and defend the second analysis of fictional names. This (...)
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  31. Empathy in Literature.Eileen John - 2017 - In Heidi L. Maibom (ed.), Routledge Handbook to Philosophy of Empathy. London: Routledge. pp. 306-16.
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  32. Uma solução artefactual para o problema da referência de objetos fictícios.Francisco Lages - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
    Nosso trabalho pretende traçar um percurso teórico sobre a referência de objetos fictícios. Para tanto, apresentamos o tratamento de Frege, Russell e Meinong com o intuito de fornecer o pano de fundo clássico sobre o qual nosso tema se encontra. Tentamos mostrar a insuficiência desse quadro clássico de teses tendo em vista suas soluções para a referência de objetos fictícios e o resultado esperado por nós. Por isso, sugerimos a linha argumentativa delineada por Kripke a partir de Naming and Necessity, (...)
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  33. Mistake is to Myth What Pretense is to Fiction: A Reply to Goodman.Björn Lundgren - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (3):1275-1282.
    In this reply I defend Kripke’s creationist thesis for mythical objects against Jeffrey Goodman’s counter-argument to the thesis, 35–40, 2014). I argue that Goodman has mistaken the basis for when mythical abstracta are created. Contrary to Goodman I show that, as well as how, Kripke’s theory consistently retains the analogy between creation of mythical objects and creation of fictional objects, while also explaining in what way they differ.
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  34. Fictional Names in Psychologistic Semantics.Emar Maier - 2017 - Theoretical Linguistics 43 (1-2):1-46.
    Fictional names pose a difficult puzzle for semantics. We can truthfully maintain that Frodo is a hobbit, while at the same time admitting that Frodo does not exist. To reconcile this paradox I propose a way to formalize the interpretation of fiction as ‘prescriptions to imagine’ (Walton 1990) within an asymmetric semantic framework in the style of Kamp (1990). In my proposal, fictional statements are analyzed as dynamic updates on an imagination component of the interpreter’s mental state, while plain assertions (...)
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  35. More on Fictional Names and Psychologistic Semantics: Replies to Comments.Emar Maier - 2017 - Theoretical Linguistics 43 (1-2):103-120.
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  36. HAGBERG, GARRY L., Ed. Fictional Characters, Real Problems: The Search for Ethical Content in Literature. Oxford University Press, 2016, Xii + 389 Pp., $90.00 Cloth. [REVIEW]Ira Newman - 2017 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (3):306-310.
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  37. On Fictional Characters as Types.Enrico Terrone - 2017 - British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (2):161-176.
    Conceiving of fictional characters as types allows us to reconcile intuitions of sameness and difference about characters such as Batman that appear in different fictional worlds. Sameness occurs at the type level while difference occurs at the token level. Yet, the claim that fictional characters are types raises three main issues. Firstly, types seem to be eternal forms whereas fictional characters seem to be the outcome of a process of creation. Secondly, the tokens of a type are concrete particulars in (...)
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  38. To Have and to Hold.Tatjana von Solodkoff & Richard Woodward - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):407-427.
    Realists about fictional entities often distinguish the properties that a fictional character has and the properties a character holds. Roughly, this is the distinction between the properties that a character really possesses and the properties it fictionally possess. But despite the popularity of this distinction in realist circles, it gives rise to a number of subtle issues about which fictional realists can and do disagree. In this paper, we aim to clarify these issues and defend three related theses. One: that (...)
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  39. Identity in Fiction.Richard Woodward - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (3):646-671.
    Anthony Everett () argues that those who embrace the reality of fictional entities run into trouble when it comes to specifying criteria of character identity. More specifically, he argues that realists must reject natural principles governing the identity and distinctness of fictional characters due to the existence of fictions which leave it indeterminate whether certain characters are identical and the existence of fictions which say inconsistent things about the identities of their characters. Everett's critique has deservedly drawn much attention and (...)
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  40. Бітард як персонаж фольклору анонімних форумів.Kostiantyn Zadyraka - 2017 - NaUKMA Research Papers. History and Theory of Culture 191:26-28.
    Статтю присвячено феномену Інтернет-фольклору, який розглядається на прикладі візуального образу персонажа «бітард». Наведено деякі аргументи для обґрунтування доцільності вживання поняття «Інтернет-фольклор», описано особливості комунікації через специфічний тип анонімних форумів – іміджборд, а також процес формування фольклору іміджборд. Проаналізовано один із елементів цього фольклору – персонаж «бітард», як відображення досвіду користувачів форумів. Описано його визначальні риси та головні характеристики.
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  41. Review of Anthony Everett, The Nonexistent. [REVIEW]Catharine Abell - 2016 - British Journal of Aesthetics 56 (2):209-212.
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  42. Fictionalism About Fictional Characters Revisited.Stuart Brock - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (2):377-403.
    Fictionalism about fictional characters is a view according to which all claims ostensibly about fictional characters are in fact claims about the content of a story. Claims that appear to refer to or quantify over fictional objects contain an implicit prefix of the form “according to such-and-such story. In "Fictionalism about Fictional Characters", I defended this kind of view. Over the last fourteen years, a number of criticisms have been leveled against this variety of fictionalism. This paper reconsiders the initial (...)
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  43. Abstract Creationism and Authorial Intention.David Friedell - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2):129-137.
    Abstract creationism about fictional characters is the view that fictional characters are abstract objects that authors create. I defend this view against criticisms from Stuart Brock that hitherto have not been adequately countered. The discussion sheds light on how the number of fictional characters depends on authorial intention. I conclude also that we should change how we think intentions are connected to artifacts more generally, both abstract and concrete.
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  44. Caring About Characters.Eileen John - 2016 - In Garry L. Hagberg (ed.), Fictional Characters, Real Problems: The Search for Ethical Content in Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 31-46.
    This chapter considers how and why real people can care about fictional characters.. Caring rests on having interests at stake, and in literary contexts those interests concern the accuracy and content of a representation; we as people, as part of our natural history, are beings for whom representation and being represented are centrally important. This chapter argues for a better integration of the “internal” and “external” perspectives on fictional characters, that is, a better integration of what are too often taken (...)
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  45. Brock, Stuart and Anthony Everett, Eds. Fictional Objects. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, 299 Pp., $75.00 Cloth. [REVIEW]Luke Manning - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (3):318-321.
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  46. Understanding Real and Fictional Persons: Narrative Negotiations Seen Through Cognitive Poetics.Alfonso Muñoz-Corcuera - 2016 - Philosophical Papers 45 (1-2):241-265.
    Narrative theories of personal identity have traditionally taken literary characters as models to better understand how our identities are constituted through the narratives of our lives. However, there have been several recent criticisms of these comparisons, showing that philosophers of personal identity paid no attention to the nature of literary characters, and consequently, these philosopher’s comparisons were under-motivated. In the present article, I rely on a cognitive framework to define literary characters. From that point of view, I assert that it (...)
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  47. Fictional Names and Literary Characters: A Defence of Abstractism.Eleonora Orlando - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (2):143-158.
    This paper is focused on the abstractist theory of fictional discourse, namely, the semantic theory according to which fictional names refer to abstract entities. Two semantic problems that arise in relation to that position are analysed: the first is the problem of accounting for the intuitive truth of typically fictive uses of statements containing fictional names; the second is the one of explaining some problematic metafictive uses, in particular, the use of intuitively true negative existentials.Este artículo se ocupa de la (...)
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  48. Paradise on the Cheap. Ascriptivism About Ficta.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2016 - In Mauro Antonelli & Marian David (eds.), Existence, Fiction, Assumption. Meinongian Themes and the History of Austrian Philosophy. Meinong Studies, vol. VI. de Gruyter. pp. 99-140.
    In this article I shall present a Meinong-inspired theory of fictional objects. This theory is based on two ideas: fictional objects are mental objects, i.e., they depend for their identity conditions on minded subjects thinking of them; they bear properties in two different ways, i.e., by instantiating properties and by having properties “ascribed” to them. In my perspective, ascription relations hold (at least) between an object, a property and a minded subject. After having presented some data about fictional discourse, I (...)
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  49. The Problem of Empty Names and Russellian Plenitude.Joshua Spencer - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):1-18.
    ‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express different propositions, even though neither ‘Ahab’ nor ‘Holmes’ has a referent. This seems to constitute a theoretical puzzle for the Russellian view of propositions. In this paper, I develop a variant of the Russellian view, Plenitudinous Russellianism. I claim that ‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express distinct gappy propositions. I discuss key metaphysical and semantic differences between Plenitudinous Russellianism and Traditional Russellianism and respond to objections that (...)
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  50. A Modulation Account of Negative Existentials.David Spewak - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (1):227-245.
    Fictional characters present a problem for semantic theorists. One approach to this problem has been to maintain realism regarding fictional characters, that is to claim that fictional characters exist. In this way names originating from fiction have designata. On this approach the problem of negative existentials is more pressing than it might otherwise be since an explanation must be given as to why we judge them true when the names occurring within them designate existing objects. So, realists must explain the (...)
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