Mark Bowker
University College Dublin
It seems true to say that Sherlock Holmes is a detective, despite there being no Sherlock Holmes. When asked to explain this fact, philosophers of language often opt for some version of Lewis’s view that sentences like ‘Sherlock Holmes is a detective’ may be taken as abbreviations for sentences prefixed with ‘In the Sherlock Holmes stories …’. I present two problems for this view. First, I provide reason to deny that these sentences are abbreviations. In short, these sentences have aesthetic properties that we should not expect of abbreviations. Second, I argue that the apparent truth of these sentences would not be explained even if they were abbreviations. An alternative is presented that avoids these problems. Following Walton, talk about fiction is viewed as a game of make-believe; following Lewis, interpretations of fiction are modelled using possible worlds.
Keywords Truth in fiction  Indeterminacy  Underdetermination  Pretence
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayaa036
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References found in this work BETA

Truth in Fiction.David K. Postscripts to Lewis - 1978 - American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1):37--46.
Truth in Fiction, Impossible Worlds, and Belief Revision.Francesco Berto & Christopher Badura - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):178-193.
Possible Worlds Semantics and Fiction.Diane Proudfoot - 2006 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 35:9-40.
Representation and Make-Believe.Alan H. Goldman - 1990 - Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 36 (3):335 – 350.

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