Referring to fictional characters

Dialectica 57 (2):243–254 (2003)
The author engages a question raised about theories of nonexistent objects. The question concerns the way names of fictional characters, when analyzed as names which denote nonexistent objects, acquire their denotations. Since nonexistent objects cannot causally interact with existent objects, it is thought that we cannot appeal to a `dubbing' or a `baptism'. The question is, therefore, what is the starting point of the chain? The answer is that storytellings are to be thought of as extended baptisms, and the details of this response receive attention in the paper. Once the storytelling is complete, and the characters have been baptized, a priori metaphysical principles linking the storytelling with the realm of nonexistent objects provide the referential, non-causal connection between the names used in the storytelling and the objects denoted by such names. [This is the original English version of an article that first appeared in German translation, translated into German by Arnold Günther and published in the Zeitschrift für Semiotik 9/1-2 (1987): 85-95. The version that appears here is, for the most part, unaltered.].
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2003.tb00269.x
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Keith S. Donnellan (1974). Speaking of Nothing. Philosophical Review 83 (1):3-31.

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