Should We Still Care about the Paradox of Fiction?

British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (3):295-308 (2011)
Robert Stecker
Central Michigan University
The paradox of fiction presents an inconsistent triad of propositions, all of which are purported to be plausible or difficult to abandon. Here is an instance of the paradox: (1) Sally pities Anna (where Anna is the character Anna Karenina). (2) To pity someone, one must believe that they exist and are suffering. (3) Sally does not believe that Anna exists. Here is the problem. The paradox was formulated during the heyday of the cognitive theory of the emotions when there was a lot of theoretical commitment to (2) or a variant of it. But now virtually no one accepts (2). To solve the paradox, we just have to find a way to reject one of the inconsistent statements. It appears easy to reject (2). So why do even some of those who do reject (2) not leave matters there? I argue that there is still good reason to consider other solutions to the paradox. It is only by doing so that we fully understand the affective states with which we respond to fiction, in particular, the distinctive functional role that they have in this context
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayr019
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 33,245
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Walton's Quasi-Emotions Do Not Go Away.Miguel F. Dos Santos - 2017 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (3):265-274.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Fiction of Paradox: Really Feeling for Anna Karenina.Daniéle Moyal-Sharrock - 2009 - In Ylva Gustafsson, Camilla Kronqvist & Michael McEachrane (eds.), Emotions and Understanding: Wittgensteinian Perspectives. Palgrave-Macmillan.
The Paradox of Confirmation.Branden Fitelson - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):95–113.
The Paradox of Health Care.Bjørn Hofmann - 2001 - Health Care Analysis 9 (4):369-386.
Paradoxes About Belief.Jesper Kallestrup - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):107-117.
Confirmation, Paradox, and Logic.Leif Eriksen - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (4):681-687.
Grelling's Paradox.Jay Newhard - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 126 (1):1 - 27.
Probabilistic Causality and Simpson's Paradox.Richard Otte - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (1):110-125.
The No-No Paradox Is a Paradox.Roy T. Cook - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):467-482.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
120 ( #48,167 of 2,242,839 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #156,097 of 2,242,839 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature