Pretense, existence, and fictional objects

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):56–80 (2007)
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There has recently been considerable interest in accounts of fiction which treat fictional characters as abstract objects. In this paper I argue against this view. More precisely I argue that such accounts are unable to accommodate our intuitions that fictional negative existentials such as “Raskolnikov doesn’t exist” are true. I offer a general argument to this effect and then consider, but reject, some of the accounts of fictional negative existentials offered by abstract object theorists. I then note that some of the sort of data invoked by the abstract object theorist in fact cuts against her position. I concludle that we should not regard fictional characters as abstract objects but rather should adopt a make-believe theoretic account of fictional characters along the lines of those developed by Ken Walton and others.



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Anthony Everett
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Co‐Identification and Fictional Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):3-34.
Nonexistent objects.Maria Reicher - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 8.
Fictional names and individual concepts.Andreas Stokke - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7829-7859.
Fictional Realism and Negative Existentials.Tatjana von Solodkoff - 2014 - In Manuel García-Carpintero & Genoveva Martí (eds.), Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence. Oxford University Press. pp. 333-352.

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References found in this work

Fiction and Metaphysics.Amie L. Thomasson - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nonexistent Objects.Terence Parsons - 1980 - Yale University Press.
On Quantifier Domain Restriction.Jason Stanley & Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):219--61.

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