Pretense, existence, and fictional objects

Abstract

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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2009-01-28

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Anthony Everett
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Nonexistent Objects.Maria Reicher - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Co‐Identification and Fictional Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):3-34.
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 - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7829-7859.

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