The Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):90-107 (2021)
AbstractIt is widely agreed that more is true in a work of fiction than explicitly said. In addition to directly stipulated fictional content (explicit truth), inference and background assumptions give us implicit truths. However, this taxonomy of fictional truths overlooks an important class of fictional truth: those generated by literary formal features. Fictional works generate fictional content by both semantic and formal means, and content arising from formal features such as italics or font size are neither explicit nor implicit: not explicit since formal features don’t say anything; and not implicit since content generated from formal features doesn’t rely on other truths or background assumptions. In addition to showing that our current classification is incomplete, the new class of fictional truths provides four further upshots for definitions of fictional truth, story and work identity conditions, and the relationship between literary interpretation and fictional truth.
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