The great beetle debate: A study in imagining with names

Philosophical Studies 153 (2):183-211 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Statements about fictional characters, such as “Gregor Samsa has been changed into a beetle,” pose the problem of how we can say something true (or false) using empty names. I propose an original solution to this problem that construes such utterances as reports of the “prescriptions to imagine” generated by works of fiction. In particular, I argue that we should construe these utterances as specifying, not what we are supposed to imagine—the propositional object of the imagining—but how we are supposed to imagine. Most other theories of thought and discourse about fictional characters either fail to capture the intentionality of our imaginings, or else obscure the differences between imaginings directed toward fictional characters and those directed toward real individuals. I argue that once we have an account of prescriptions to imagine about real individuals, we can adapt the same framework to specify the contents of prescriptions to imagine about fictional characters, and thereby to account for the truth (or falsity) of statements about fictional characters.

Similar books and articles

Description, Disagreement, and Fictional Names.Peter Alward - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):423-448.
Fictional characters and literary practices.Amie L. Thomasson - 2003 - British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (2):138-157.
Leave me out of it: De re, but not de se, imaginative engagement with fiction.Peter Alward - 2006 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (4):451–459.
Pretense, existence, and fictional objects.Anthony Everett - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):56–80.
Speaking of fictional characters.Amie L. Thomasson - 2003 - Dialectica 57 (2):205–223.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-12-09

Downloads
955 (#7,905)

6 months
255 (#1,852)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Stacie Friend
Birkbeck, University of London

Citations of this work

The New Fiction View of Models.Fiora Salis - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):717-742.
Co‐Identification and Fictional Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):3-34.
Fictional names and individual concepts.Andreas Stokke - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7829-7859.
Mental Files: Replies to my Critics.François Recanati - 2013 - Disputatio 5 (36):207-242.

View all 30 citations / Add more citations