If science fiction is a genre, then attempts to think about the nature of science fiction will be affected by one’s understanding of what genres are. I shall examine two approaches to genre, one dominant but inadequate, the other better, but only occasionally making itself seen. I shall then discuss several important, interrelated issues, focusing particularly on science fiction : what it is for a work to belong to a genre, the semantics of genre names, the validity (...) of attempts to define genres, and the connections between genre and normativity. One important but neglected clue to the nature of genres lies in the kinds of disagreements they generate over the assignment of works to genres. I conclude by explaining why these disagreements tell us something about the nature of genres, and discussing in some detail two famous cases of disagreement about whether some work or works are science fiction. (shrink)
We present a theory of truth in fiction that improves on Lewis's  ‘Analysis 2’ in two ways. First, we expand Lewis's possible worlds apparatus by adding non-normal or impossible worlds. Second, we model truth in fiction as belief revision via ideas from dynamic epistemic logic. We explain the major objections raised against Lewis's original view and show that our theory overcomes them.
It is widely agreed that fiction is necessarily incomplete, but some recent work postulates the existence of universal fictions—stories according to which everything is true. Building such a story is supposedly straightforward: authors can either assert that everything is true in their story, define a complement function that does the assertoric work for them, or, most compellingly, write a story combining a contradiction with the principle of explosion. The case for universal fictions thus turns on the intuitive priority we (...) assign to the law of non-contradiction. My goal in this paper is to show that our critical and reflective literary practices set constraints on story-telling which preclude universal fictions. I will raise four stumbling blocks for universal fictionalists: the gap between saying and making true, our actual interpretive reactions to story-level contradictions, the criteria we accept for what counts as a story in our literary practices, and the undesirability of the universal fictionalist’s closure principles. (shrink)
This book examines the complex and varied ways in which fictions relate to the real world, and offers a precise account of how imaginative works of literature can use fictional content to explore matters of universal human interest. While rejecting the traditional view that literature is important for the truths that it imparts, the authors also reject attempts to cut literature off altogether from real human concerns. Their detailed account of fictionality, mimesis, and cognitive value, founded on the methods of (...) analytical philosophy, restores to literature its distinctive status among cultural practices. The authors also explore metaphysical and skeptical views, prevalent in modern thought, according to which the world itself is a kind of fiction, and truth no more than a social construct. They identify different conceptions of fiction in science, logic, epistemology, and make-believe, and thereby challenge the idea that discourse per se is fictional and that different modes of discourse are at root indistinguishable. They offer rigorous analyses of the roles of narrative, imagination, metaphor, and "making" in human thought processes. Both in their methods and in their conclusions, Lamarque and Olsen aim to restore rigor and clarity to debates about the values of literature, and to provide new, philosophically sound foundations for a genuine change of direction in literary theorizing. (shrink)
The paper is an examination and critique of the philosophy of science fiction horror of seminal American horror, science fiction and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). Lovecraft never directly offers a philosophy of science fiction horror. However, at different points in his essays and letters, he addresses genres he labels “interplanetary fiction”, “horror”, “supernatural horror”, and “weird fiction”, the last being a broad heading covering both supernatural fiction and science fiction. Taken together, a (...) philosophy of science fiction horror emerges. Central to this philosophy is the juxtaposition of the mysterious, unnatural and alien against a realistic background, in order to produce the emotion that Lovecraft calls “cosmic fear”. This background must not only be scientifically accurate, but must accurately portray human psychology, particularly when humans are faced with the weird and alien. It will be argued that Lovecraft’s prescriptions are overly restrictive and would rule out many legitimate works of science fiction horror art. However, he provides useful insights into the genre. (shrink)
The problem of truth in fiction concerns how to tell whether a given proposition is true in a given fiction. Thus far, the nearly universal consensus has been that some propositions are ‘implicitly true’ in some fictions: such propositions are not expressed by any explicit statements in the relevant work, but are nevertheless held to be true in those works on the basis of some other set of criteria. I call this family of views ‘implicitism’. I argue that (...) implicitism faces serious problems, whereas the opposite view is much more plausible than has previously been thought. After mounting a limited defence of explicitism, I explore a difficult problem for the view and discuss some possible responses. (shrink)
We offer an original argument for the existence of universal fictions—that is, fictions within which every possible proposition is true. Specifically, we detail a trio of such fictions, along with an easy-to-follow recipe for generating more. After exploring several consequences and dismissing some objections, we conclude that fiction, unlike reality, is unlimited when it comes to truth.
Works of fiction are alleged to differ from works of nonfiction in instructing their audience to imagine their content. Indeed, works of fiction have been defined in terms of this feature: they are works that mandate us to imagine their content. This paper examines this definition of works of fiction, focusing on the nature of the activity that ensues in response to reading or watching fiction. Investigating how imaginings function in other contexts, I show, first, that (...) they presuppose a cognitive infrastructure encompassing at least one additional kind of mental state, whose role is to determine, to some degree, truth in an imaginary world. I then discuss the implications for the definition of fiction, showing that the definition should be refined to accommodate the structure that imagining presupposes: a work counts as fiction just in case it mandates us, not only to imagine, but to engage in a more complex mental activity, an activity that in addition to imagining, involves positing a backdrop for our imaginings. (shrink)
In her short story “Stable Strategies for Middle Management,” Eileen Gunn imagines a future in which Margaret, an office worker, seeks radical genetic enhancements intended to help her secure the middle-management job she wants. One source of the story’s tension and dark humor is dramatic irony: readers can see that the enhancements Margaret buys stand little chance of making her life go better for her; enhancing is, for Margaret, probably a prudential mistake. This paper argues that our positions in the (...) real world are sufficiently similar to Margaret’s position in Gunn’s fictional world that we should take this story seriously as grounding an argument from analogy for the conclusion that radical genetic enhancements are, for us, probably a prudential mistake. The paper then defends this method. When the question at hand is one of speculative ethics, there is no method better fit to the purpose than argument from analogy to speculative fiction. (shrink)
In the first half of this book, I offer a theory of fictional content or, as it is sometimes known, ‘fictional truth’.The theory of fictional content I argue for is ‘extreme intentionalism’. The basic idea – very roughly, in ways which are made precise in the book - is that the fictional content of a particular text is equivalent to exactly what the author of the text intended the reader to imagine. The second half of the book is concerned with (...) showing how extreme intentionalism and the lessons learnt from it can illuminate cognate questions in the philosophy of fiction and imagination. For instance, I argue, my position helps us to explain how fiction can provide us with reliable testimony ; it helps explain the phenomenon of imaginative resistance ; and it fits with, and so supports, a persuasive theory of the nature of fiction itself. In my final chapter, I show how attending to intentionalist practices of interpreting fictional content can illuminate the nature of propositional imagining itself. (shrink)
Speculative fiction, such as science fiction and fantasy, has a unique epistemic value. We examine similarities and differences between speculative fiction and philosophical thought experiments in terms of how they are cognitively processed. They are similar in their reliance on mental prospection, but dissimilar in that fiction is better able to draw in readers (transportation) and elicit emotional responses. By its use of longer, emotionally poignant narratives and seemingly irrelevant details, speculative fiction allows for a (...) better appraisal of the consequences of philosophical ideas than thought experiments. (shrink)
In Savoring Disgust, Carolyn Korsmeyer argues that disgust is peculiar amongst emotions, for it does not need any of the standard solutions to the so-called paradox of fiction. I argue that Korsmeyer’s arguments in support of the peculiarity of disgust with respect to the paradox of fiction are not successful.
Fiction is often characterized by way of a contrast with truth, as, for example, in the familiar couplet “Truth is always strange/ Stranger than fiction" (Byron 1824). And yet, those who would maintain that “we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology” (Chomsky 1988: 159) hold that some truth is best encountered via fiction. The scrupulous novelist points out that her work depicts no actual person, either living or (...) dead; nonetheless, we use names from fiction in ways that suggest that we take these names to refer. Philosophers who investigate fiction aim to reconcile such apparently incompatible phenomena, and, in general, to account for the myriad ways that we talk, think, and feel about fiction. (shrink)
If feeling a genuine emotion requires believing that its object actually exists, and if this is a belief we are unlikely to have about fictional entities, then how could we feel genuine emotions towards these entities? This question lies at the core of the paradox of fiction. Since its original formulation, this paradox has generated a substantial literature. Until recently, the dominant strategy had consisted in trying to solve it. Yet, it is more and more frequent for scholars to (...) try to dismiss it using data and theories coming from psychology. In opposition to this trend, the present paper argues that the paradox of fiction cannot be dissolved in the ways recommended by the recent literature. We start by showing how contemporary attempts at dissolving the paradox assume that it emerges from theoretical commitments regarding the nature of emotions. Next, we argue that the paradox of fiction rather emerges from everyday observations, the validity of which is independent from any such commitment. This is why we then go on to claim that a mere appeal to psychology in order to discredit these theoretical commitments cannot dissolve the paradox. We bring our discussion to a close on a more positive note, by exploring how the paradox could in fact be solved by an adequate theory of the emotions. (shrink)
Why is it that we respond emotionally to plays, movies, and novels and feel moved by characters and situations that we know do not exist? This question, which constitutes the kernel of the debate on »the paradox of fiction«, speaks to the perennial themes of philosophy, and remains of interest to this day. But does this question entail a paradox? A significant group of analytic philosophers have indeed thought so. Since the publication of Colin Radford's celebrated paper »How Can (...) We Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?« (1975), the number of proposals to solve, explain, reformulate, dismiss or even revitalize this apparent paradox has continued to proliferate. In line with recent developments in the philosophy of emotion, in this paper I will argue against the sustainability of the paradox, claiming that the only reasonable way to continue our discussions about it consists in using it as a heuristic tool to shed light on problems regarding our involvement with fiction. Against this background, I will then focus on one of the problems related to how our emotional responses to fiction contribute to our appreciation of it. The paper is divided into three main sections. The first section shows the parallel evolution of the paradox of fiction and the analytic philosophy of emotion. Here I claim that, although the paradox is epistemically flawed, since one of its premises is rooted in a limited view on the emotions typical of early cognitiv-ism, the discussions it provokes are still epistemically useful. As Robert Stecker (2011, 295), among others, has pointed out, the paradox was formulated during the heyday of cognitive theories of the emotions in which emotion necessarily requires belief. Today, however, only few authors would endorse this premise. If emotion does not always require belief (as the majority of authors in the contemporary debate admit), let alone belief about the existence of the object towards which it is directed, then there is no reason to speak of a paradox. From this first conclusion, however, it does not follow that the paradox is completely without use from the epistemic point of view. A glimpse at the topics touched on during the discussions about how to solve, reformulate, or negate the paradox reveals their value in shedding light on the interrelation between emotion and fiction. The second section elaborates a phenomenologically inspired cognitive account of the emotions by focusing on their cognitive bases, their influence on Emotion in the Appreciation of Fiction 205 cognitions, and their cognitive function. In this model, emotions are responsible for indicating values, for showing what matters to us, and for being appropriate to their objects. My claim is that this view applies not only to reality, but also to our involvement with fiction. In the final section I draw on this account to focus on one kind of appreciation of fiction which necessarily requires our emotional involvement. Following an idea put forward by Susan Feagin (1996, 1), I employ the concept of »appre-ciation« to refer to a set of abilities exercised with the aim of extracting value from the work. There is a long tradition in aesthetics that condemns any focus on the emotions in the appreciation of art and fiction, and defends the necessity of aesthetic appreciation without emotional influence. To refer to this negative attitude towards the emotions, I will borrow an expression coined by Susan Feagin (2013, 636), who refers to »the intellectualized view of appreciation«. Against this widespread view, I will argue that some aspects of the fiction can only be appreciated with the help of our emotions. The cognitive approach developed in the previous section can explain how the emotions might in fact play a significant role in the appreciation of art and fiction. Attention will be paid to three activities involved in appreciation, for all of which emotion is crucial: processing relevant information about the fictional world, understanding aspects of it, and becoming acquainted with the values it presents. My aim here is to argue that there are particular aspects of the fictional world that can only be appreciated if recipients have the appropriate emotions. (shrink)
Indeterminacy in its various forms has been the focus of a great deal of philosophical attention in recent years. Much of this discussion has focused on the status of vague predicates such as ‘tall’, ‘bald’, and ‘heap’. It is determinately the case that a seven-foot person is tall and that a five-foot person is not tall. However, it seems difficult to pick out any determinate height at which someone becomes tall. How best to account for this phenomenon is, of course, (...) a controversial matter. For example, some (such as Sorensen (2001) and Williamson (2002)) maintain that there is a precise height at which someone becomes tall and such apparent cases of indeterminacy merely reflects our ignorance of this fact. Others maintain that there is some genuine – and not merely epistemic – indeterminacy present is such cases and offer various accounts of how best to account for it. Supervaluationists (such as Keefe (2008)), for example, claim that the indeterminacy with respect to vague terms lies in their not having a single definite extension. Rather, each term is associated with a range of possible precise extensions or precisifications such that it is semantically unsettled which is the correct extension. One precisification of ‘tall’ might allow that anyone over five feet ten inches is tall, whereas another would only allow those over six foot to qualify; but no precisification will take someone who is five foot to be tall, and someone who is seven foot will count as tall on all precisifications. Thus – while someone who is seven foot will be determinately tall and someone who is five foot determinately not so – it will be indeterminate whether someone who stands at five foot eleven inches is tall. -/- Yet, it is important to stress that putative cases of indeterminacy are not limited to vague predicates of this kind. Philosophers have invoked indeterminacy in discussions of topics as diverse as moral responsibility (Bernstein (forthcoming)), identity over time (Williams (2014)), and the status of the future (Barnes and Cameron (2009)). In this paper, we focus on two areas where discussion of various kinds of indeterminacy has been commonplace: physics and fiction. We propose a new model for understanding indeterminacy across these domains and argue that it has some notable advantages when compared to earlier accounts. Treating physics and fiction cases univocally also indicates an interesting connection between indeterminacy in these two areas. (shrink)
It is widely taken for granted that fictions, including both literature and film,influence our attitudes toward real people, events, and situations. Philosopherswho defend claims about the cognitive value of fiction view this influence in apositive light, while others worry about the potential moral danger of fiction.Marketers hope that visual and aural references to their products in movies willhave an effect on people’s buying patterns. Psychologists study the persuasiveimpact of media. Educational books and films are created in the hopes (...) of guidingchildren’s and adult’s preferences toward socially acceptable norms.The influencesdiscussed by marketers, psychologists, educators, and philosophers tend to be bothcognitive and affective. It seems that we can be “emotionally persuaded”: ourpreferences can be changed, our feelings about particular people or events can beinfluenced, and so forth. (shrink)
The primary purpose of depictive works of pornography, we take it, is sexual arousal through sexually explicit representations; what we callprototypical pornography satisfies those aims through the adoption of a ceteris paribus maximally realistic depictive style. Given that the purpose of sexual arousal seems best fulfilled by establishing the most robust connections between the viewer and the depictive subject, we find it curious that not all works of pornography aspire to prototypical status. Accordingly, we target for philosophical scrutiny several non-standard (...) but putatively pornographic forms: Tijuana Bibles, hentai manga, and slash-fiction. We find that works of these genres possess certain depictively or fictively oriented properties that appear at least prima facie incompatible with prototypical pornography, and thereby to pose two pressing questions that anyprima facie viable analysis of pornography must answer: the depiction question and the fiction question. By answering these questions, we can not only arrive at a deeper understanding of the aims of pornography and the reasons for which significant sub-genres of pornography might diverge from the prototypical ideal, but also perhaps better understand what lies at pornography’s edge, and so better understand the ways in which pornography might relate to what lies beyond. (shrink)
Many philosophers have attempted to provide a solution to the paradox of fiction, a triad of sentences that lead to the conclusion that genuine emotional responses to fiction are irrational. We suggest that disagreement over the best response to this paradox stems directly from the formulation of the paradox itself. Our main goal is to show that there is an ambiguity regarding the word ‘exist’ throughout the premises of the paradox. To reveal this ambiguity, we display the diverse (...) existential commitments of several leading theories of emotion, and argue that none of the theories we consider are committed to notions of ‘exist’ employed by the paradox. We conclude that it is unclear whether or not there remains a paradox of fiction to be solved—rather than to be argued for—once this ambiguity is addressed. (shrink)
This paper argues: (1) All knowledge from fiction is from imagination (2) All knowledge from imagination is modal knowledge (3) So, all knowledge from fiction is modal knowledge Moreover, some knowledge is from fiction, so (1)-(3) are non-vacuously true.
Abstract. I outline the standard picture of fiction. According to this picture, fiction is centred on making believe some truth-apt content. I take a closer look at everyday usage of the expressions ‘according to the fiction’ and ‘in the fiction’ to countervail the streamlining tendencies that come with the standard picture. Having outlined highly variegated use patterns, I argue for a metaexpressivist picture: ‘according to the fiction’ does not primarily report fictional truth but a complex (...) pattern of reactions the fiction seems intended to elicit. In the corresponding expressivist picture of the act of fiction-making, the latter is not primarily modeled on stating and believing truth but on the variegated pattern of intended reactions. (shrink)
Fictional terms are terms that have null extensions, and in this regard pejorative terms are a species of fictional terms: although there are Jews, there are no kikes. That pejoratives are fictions is the central consequence of the Moral and Semantic Innocence (MSI) view of Hom et al. (2013). There it is shown that for pejoratives, null extensionality is the semantic realization of the moral fact that no one ought to be the target of negative moral evaluation solely in virtue (...) of their group membership. In having null extensions, pejorative terms are much like mythological terms like ‘unicorn horn’ that express concepts with empty extensions, even though it was thought otherwise: people who falsely believed the mythology were mislead into thinking that ordinary objects (i.e. whale tusks) were magical objects, and pejoratives terms work likewise. For example, the term ‘kike’ is supported by the ideology of anti-Semitism, and speakers who fall prey to its influence (perniciously or not) are mislead into thinking that ordinary people (i.e. Jews) are inherently worthy of contempt. In this paper, we explore the consequences of this parallelism, with an eye to criticisms of MSI. In particular, we will re-visit identity expressivist views - those that hold that there are kikes and that they are Jews, and hence deny null extensionality - arguing that this embeds a mistake of fiction for fact. Among the issues to be discussed are the role of fictional truth in understanding pejorative sentences and the relation of the semantics of pejoratives to offensive use of language. We conclude with meta-semantic reflections on the origins of word meanings. (shrink)
This paper argues in favor of a treatment of discourse about fiction in terms of operators on character, that is, Kaplanesque ‘monsters’. The first three sections criticize the traditional analysis of ‘according to the fiction’ as an intensional operator, and the approach to fictional discourse grounded on the notion of contextual shifts. The final sections explain how an analysis in terms of monsters yields the correct readings for a variety of examples involving modal and temporal indexicals.
The aim of this article is to explore in a systematic way the rationality of emotions elicited when we engage with works of fiction. I first lay out the approach to the emotions on which my discussion is premised. Next, I concentrate on two facets of emotional rationality—the first pertains to the relation between emotions and the mental states on which they are based, the second to the relation between emotions and the judgements and behaviour they elicit. These observations (...) about emotional rationality are then applied to emotions elicited by works of fiction. After having distinguished several families of emotions, I concentrate on what I call blob-emotions and emotions-for. I argue that, given their nature as direct responses to a restricted range of stimuli, blob-emotions are not irrational. As regards emotions-for fictional entities, I emphasize that a subject’s rationality shows in the way her emotions-for respond to evidence. On this basis, I discard an influential reason to think that emotions-for fictional entities are irrational. Finally, I offer an argument to conclude that they are typically correct and rational. (shrink)
Lying and fiction both involve the deliberate production of statements that fail to obey Grice’s first Maxim of Quality (“do not say what you believe to be false”). The question thus arises if we can provide a uniform analysis for fiction and lies. In this chapter I discuss the similarities, but also some fundamental differences between lying and fiction. I argue that there’s little hope for a satisfying account within a traditional truth conditional semantic framework. Rather than (...) immediately moving to a fully pragmatic analysis involving distinct speech acts of fiction-making and lying, I will first explore how far we get with the assumption that both are simply assertions, analyzed in a Stalnakerian framework, i.e. as proposals to update the common ground. (shrink)
Sports and competitive games of many kinds—from tag to chess to baseball—are often occasions for make-believe. To participate either as a competitor or as a spectator is frequently to engage in pretense. The activities of playing and watching games have this in common with appreciating works of fiction and participating in children’s make-believe activities, although the make-believe in sports, masked by real interests and concerns, is less obvious than it is in the other cases. What is most interesting about (...) tag and chess and baseball, however, are the ways in which the make-believe they involve differs from other varieties. (shrink)
Tullmann et Buckwalter (2014) ont récemment soutenu que le paradoxe de la fiction tenait plus de l’illusion que de la réalité. D’après eux, les théories contemporaines des émotions ne fourniraient aucune raison d’adopter une interprétation du terme « existence » qui rende les prémisses du paradoxe incompatibles entre elles. Notre discussion a pour but de contester cette manière de dissoudre le paradoxe de la fiction en montrant qu’il ne prend pas sa source dans les théories contemporaines des émotions. (...) Bien plutôt, son origine se situe dans ce que Radford (1975) décrit comme une incohérence dans nos réactions émotionnelles aux évènements fictionnels et non fictionnels. Malgré ce désaccord, nous concédons à Tullmann et Buckwalter qu’une solution satisfaisante au paradoxe de la fiction doit s’appuyer sur les théories des émotions. Ainsi, en guise de conclusion, nous expliquons comment il convient de comprendre l’incohérence en question et comment les théories des émotions pourraient contribuer à la résolution du paradoxe de la fiction. (shrink)
Many philosophers are very sanguine about the cognitive contributions of fiction to science and philosophy. I focus on a case study: Ichikawa and Jarvis’s account of thought experiments in terms of everyday fictional stories. As far as the contribution of fiction is not sui generis, processing fiction often will be parasitic on cognitive capacities which may replace it; as far as it is sui generis, nothing guarantees that fiction is sufficiently well-behaved to abide by the constraints (...) of scientific and philosophical discourse, not even by the minimum requirements of conceptual and logical coherence. (shrink)
Idiosyncratic responses as more strictly personal responses to fiction film that vary across individual spectators. In philosophy of film, idiosyncratic responses are often deemed inappropriate, unwarranted and unintended by the film. One type of idiosyncratic response is when empathy with a character triggers the spectator to reflect on his own real life issues. Self-reflection can be triggered by egoistic drift, where the spectator starts imagining himself in the character’s shoes, by re-experiencing memories, or by unfamiliar experiences that draw the (...) spectator’s attention. Film may facilitate self-reflection by slowing down narrative development and making the narrative indeterminate. Such scenes make idiosyncratic responses, such as self-reflection, appropriate and intended. Fiction film is a safe context for the spectator to reflect on personal issues, as it also affords him with distancing techniques if the reflection becomes too painful or unwanted. The fictional context further encourages self-reflection in response to empathy, as the spectator is relieved from real life moral obligations to help the other. (shrink)
The contemporary debate in the philosophy of literature is strongly shaped by the anticognitivist challenge, according to which works of literary fiction (that contain propositions that are neither literally true nor affirmed by the author) cannot impart (relevant) knowledge to the readers or enrich their worldly understanding. Anti-cognitivists appreciate works of literary fiction for their aesthetic values and so risk to reduce them to mere ornaments that are entertaining, but eventually useless. Many philosophers have reacted to this challenge (...) by pointing at ways in which works of literary fiction can be informative even though they lack worldly reference: it has been argued, for example, that works of fictions are thought experiments; that they add not to our theoretical knowledge, but to our know-how or to our phenomenal knowledge; or that that they help readers to understand the perspectives of others. A stubborn defense of literary cognitivism, however, risks to collapse into an instrumental understanding of literature. In my paper I suggest that both sides in the debate focus too narrowly on semantic features of the works in question that is tied to what I will call the “referential picture” of language. A shift perspective is needed: for one, we ought to fully appreciate that the term “literature” does not refer to a homogeneous phenomenon, but rather to a very heterogeneous and multifarious set of works that are read by many different readers for many different reasons in many different ways. Second, we need to understand that these works have in common much more than the semantic peculiarity of lacking worldly reference: they are a unique means of communication between authors and readers – and in particular the role of the latter is often neglected in contemporary debate. These two points should help us to get a more comprehensive understanding of the practice of literature and the vast range of values we can find works of literary fiction – and the interplay between them. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to present the disagreement between Moran and Walton on the nature of our affective responses to fiction and to defend a view on the issue which is opposed to Moran’s account and improves on Walton’s. Moran takes imagination-based affective responses to be instances of genuine emotion and treats them as episodes with an emotional attitude towards their contents. I argue against the existence of such attitudes, and that the affective element of such responses (...) should rather be taken to be part of what is imagined. In this respect, I follow Walton; and I also agree with the latter that our affective responses to fiction are, as a consequence, not instances of real emotion. However, this gives rise to the challenge to be more specific about the nature of our responses and explain how they can still involve a phenomenologically salient affective element, given that propositionally imagining that one feels a certain emotion is ruled out because it may be done in a dispassionate way. The answer —already suggested, but not properly spelled out by Walton— is that affectively responding to some fictional element consists in imaginatively re-presenting an experience of emotional feeling towards it. The central thought is that the conscious and imaginative representation of the affective character of an instance of genuine emotion itself involves the respective phenomenologically salient affective element, despite not instantiating it. (shrink)
For Meinong, familiarly, fictional entities are not created, but rather merely discovered (or picked out) from the inexhaustible realm of Aussersein (beyond being and non-being). The phenomenologist Roman Ingarden, in contrast, offers in his Literary Work of Art of 1931 a constructive ontology of fiction, which views fictional objects as entities which are created by the acts of an author (as laws, for example, are created by acts of parliament). We outline the logic of fiction which is implied (...) by Ingarden’s approach, showing how it distinguishes the properties possessed by fictional objects (for instance of having been created by such and such an author in such and such a work) from characteristics (for instance of smoking a pipe, of living in Baker Street) which are merely associated with such objects. (shrink)
This paper addresses the so-called paradox of fiction, the problem of explaining how we can have emotional responses towards fiction. I claim that no account has yet provided an adequate explanation of how we can respond with genuine emotions when we know that the objects of our responses are fictional. I argue that we should understand the role played by the imagination in our engagement with fiction as functionally equivalent to that which it plays under the guise (...) of acceptance in practical reasoning, suggesting that the same underlying cognitive-affective mechanisms are involved in both activities. As such, our imaginative engagement with fiction un-problematically arouses emotions, but only to the extent that we are not occurrently attending to our epistemic relation to the fiction i.e. fully attending to the fact that the object of our response is merely fictional. In order to illuminate this idea I examine a recent proposal that the phenomenology of attention is partially non-attributive, and I argue that emotional phenomenology too shares this characteristic. (shrink)
Psychiatry studies the human mind within a medical paradigm, exploring experience, response and reaction, emotion and affect. Similarly, writers of fiction explore within a non-clinical dimension the phenomena of the human mind. The synergism between literature and psychiatry seems clear, yet literature—and in particular, fiction—remain the poor relation of the medical textbook. How can literature be of particular relevance in psychiatry? This paper examines these issues and suggests a selection of useful texts.
This paper concerns the familiar topic of whether we can have genuinely emotional responses such as pity and fear to characters and situations we believe to be fictional1. As is well known, Kendall Walton responds in the negative (Walton (1978); (1990): 195-204 and Chapter 7; (1997)). That is, he is an ‘irrealist’ about emotional responses to fiction (the term is Gaut’s (2003): 15), arguing that such responses should be construed as quasiemotions (Walton (1990): 245), of which their possessor imagines (...) that they are genuine emotions. This is not to deny that an experience in response to a fiction may have a phenomenology very like a given emotion, but to insist that, nonetheless, such responses are not real instances of the emotions which they resemble (Walton (1997)). So, in his most famous example, Charles, who experiences fear-like emotion in relation to a film which depicts the approach of evil slime, does not, despite appearances, experience genuine fear towards the slime, but only quasi-fear (Walton (1990): 195-204)2. Walton’s view presupposes the following view about the nature of emotion3. (shrink)
Among the works of the ancient Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, well-known for his scathing and obscene irony, there is the novel True History. In this work Lucian, being in an intense satirical mood, intended to undermine the values of the classical world. Through a continuous parade of wonderful events, beings and situations as a substitute for the realistic approach to reality, he parodies the scientific knowledge, creating a literary model for the subsequent writers. Without doubt, nowadays, Lucian’s large influence (...) on the history of literature has been highlighted. What is missing is pointing out the specific characteristics that would lead to the placement of True History at the starting point of Science Fiction. We are going to highlight two of these features: first, the operation of “cognitive estrangement”, which aims at providing the reader with the perception of the difference between the convention and the truth, and second, the use of strange innovations (“novum”) that verify the value of Lucian’s work by connecting it to historicity. (shrink)
In this paper, first of all, I want to try a new defense of the utterance approach as to the relationship between fictional and nonfictional works on the one hand and between fictional and nonfictional utterances on the other hand, notably the idea that the distinction between fictional and nonfictional works is derivative on the distinction between fictional and nonfictional utterances of the sentences that constitute a text. Moreover, I want to account for the second distinction in minimally contextualist semantic (...) terms. Finally, I want to hold that what makes a fictional utterance, hence a fictional work, properly fictional is the contextually pre-semantic fact that its utterer entertains an act of make-believe, where such an act is accounted for in metarepresentational terms. This ultimately means that the fiction/nonfiction distinction is not clarified in terms of the fictional works/nonfictional works distinction, for things rather go the other way around. (shrink)
A recent and growing discussion in philosophy addresses the construction of models and their use in scientific reasoning by comparison with fiction. This comparison helps to explore the problem of mediated observation and, hence, the lack of an unambiguous reference of representations. Examining the usefulness of the concept of fiction for a comparison with non-denoting elements in science, the aim of this paper is to present reasonable grounds for drawing a distinction between these two kinds of representation. In (...) particular, my account will suggest a demarcation between fictional and non-fictional discourse as involving two different ways of interpreting representations. This demarcation, leading me to distinguish between fictional and non-fictional forms of enquiry, will provide a useful tool to explore to what extent the descriptions given by a model can be justified as making claims about the world and to what degree they are a consequence of the model’s particular construction. (shrink)
In her book Fiction and Metaphysics (1999) Amie Thomasson, influenced by the work of Roman Ingarden, develops a phenomenological approach to fictional entities in order to explain how non-fictional entities can be referred to intrafictionally and transfictionally, for example in the context of literary interpretation. As our starting point we take Thomasson’s realist theory of literary fictional objects, according to which such objects actually exist, albeit as abstract and artifactual entities. Thomasson’s approach relies heavily on the notion of ontological (...) dependence, but its precise semantics has not yet been developed. Moreover, the modal approach to the notion of ontological dependence underlying the Artifactual Theory has recently been contested by several scholars. The main aims of this paper are (i) to develop a semantic approach to the notion of ontological dependence in the context of the Artifactual Theory of fiction, and in so doing bridge a number of philosophical and logical gaps; (ii) to generalize Thomasson’s categorial theory of ontological dependence by reconstructing ontological categories of entities purely in terms of different structures of ontological dependence, rather than in terms of the basic kinds of entities the categorical entities depend on. (shrink)
I argue that the criteria governing the aptness of emotions directed towards fictional entities, such as characters and events in fiction, are structurally identical to the criteria governing the aptness of emotions directed towards real entities in the following sense: in both cases, aptness is characterized in terms of fittingness, justification, and being salience-tracking, and each of these notions is understood in an analogous way across reality- and fiction-directed emotions. The only differences are that, in the case of (...)fiction-directed emotions, fictional truth rather than truth is relevant to fittingness, and salience in the context of engaging with the fiction replaces salience in the real context. Other asymmetries between the aptness criteria of fiction- and reality-directed emotions that seem to conflict with this claim are reducible to these two differences or stem from the failure to distinguish between emotions directed towards the content of a fiction and the fiction itself. (shrink)
Some philosophers of fiction – most famously Jerold Levinson1 - have tried to argue that fictional narrators can never be identified with real authors. This argument relies on the claim that narration involves genuine assertion (not just the pretense of assertion that lacks truthfulness) and that real authors are not in a position to assert anything about beings on the fictional plain - given that they don’t rationally believe in their existence. This debate on the status of narrators depends (...) on the idea that fictional beings and beings in the real worlds reside, as it were, at different levels. The assumption that there is a gap separating the levels of fiction and reality serves as a rationale for the claim that real authors could not possibly be en rapport with the fictional characters that they create (e.g. entertain beliefs about them, etc.). (shrink)
How can we experience real emotions when viewing a movie or reading a novel or watching a play when we know the characters whose actions have this effect on us do not exist? This is a conundrum that has puzzled philosophers for a long time, and in this book Robert Yanal both canvasses previously proposed solutions to it and offers one of his own. First formulated by Samuel Johnson, the paradox received its most famous answer from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who (...) advised his readers to engage in a "willing suspension of disbelief." More recently, philosophers have argued that we are irrational in emoting toward fiction, or that we do not emote toward fiction but rather toward factual counterparts, or that we do not have real but only quasi-emotion toward fiction, generated by our playing games of make-believe. All of these proposed solutions are critically reviewed. Finding these answers unsatisfactory, Yanal offers an alternative, providing a new version of what has been dubbed "thought theory." On this theory, mere thoughts not believed true are seen as the functional equivalent of belief at least insofar as stimulating emotion is concerned. The emoter's disbelief in the actuality of components of the thoughts must be rendered relatively inactive. Such emotion is real and typically has the character of being richly generated yet unconsummated. The book extends this theory also to resolving other paradoxes arising from emotional response to fiction: how we feel suspense over what comes next in a story even when we are re-reading it for a second or third time; and how we take pleasure in narratives, such as tragedy, that excite unpleasant emotions such as fear, pity, or horror. (shrink)
Philosophical discussion of emotional responses to fiction has been dominated by work on the paradox of fiction, which is often construed as asking whether and how we can experience genuine emotions in reaction to fiction. One may also ask more generally how we ought to respond to fictional works, a question that has to do both with what we should do when reacting to fiction and with what we should and should not let happen to us. (...) It is possible to delineate any principles regarding the rationality, and more generally, the appropriateness of emotional responses to fiction? (shrink)
In the mid‐twentieth century, theorists began seriously forecasting possibilities for artificial intelligence (AI). As related research gathered momentum and resources, the topic made impressions on public discourse. One effect was increasingly pointed emphasis on AI in popular narratives. Although considerably earlier thematic examples may be located, we can observe swelling and generally pessimistic threads of speculation in science fiction of the 1950s and 1960s. This discussion identifies some pertinent science fiction texts from that period, alongside public discussion arising (...) from contemporary research. One consistent theme is human receptiveness to the numinous , and the capacity to ascribe personality and even divinity to sufficiently impressive manifestations, even artificial ones. Science fiction has long contemplated such reactions, prefiguring today's anticipations of AIs that might abruptly develop themselves beyond any possible human comprehension or control. This body of exploratory projections is a useful resource for the engineers and philosophers currently grappling with realistic prospects for Western humanity's shifting conception of itself. (shrink)
Friedrich Schlegel’s remarks about poetry and reality are notoriously baffling. They are often regarded as outlandish, or “poetically exaggerated” statements, since they are taken to suggest that there is no difference between poetry and reality or to express the view that there is no way out of linguistic and poetic constructions (Bowie). I take all these responses to be mistaken, and argue that Schlegel’s remarks are philosophical observations about a genuine confusion in theoretical approaches to the distinction between fiction (...) and reality. The confusion at stake involves the assumption that this distinction is and must be fixed independently of the ordinary practices of using these terms to mean certain things in specific situations. And this assumption itself is grounded fundamentally in a confused picture about the way language works. I argue that this confused understanding of the distinction between fiction and reality is not an object of the past, but a picture that is still shaping a central strand in the contemporary debate in philosophical aesthetics about our emotional responses to fiction. And while I do not use Schlegel’s approach to argue against this contemporary view directly, I suggest that his philosophical method includes the resources for unraveling a central confusion in this contemporary debate. (shrink)
In this paper, I will first of all claim that once one takes proper names as indexicals of a particular sort, indexinames for short, one may account for some tensions that affect our desiderata regarding the use of such names in sentences directly or indirectly involving fiction. According to my proposal, a proper name “N.N.” is an indexical whose character is roughly expressed by the description “the individual called ‘N.N.’ (in context)”, where this description means “the individual one’s interlocutor’s (...) attention is called to by means of ‘N.N.’ (in context)”. This character is a partial function that maps narrow contexts onto referents. Such contexts are enriched narrow contexts, for they also include an ‘acquisition’ parameter, i.e., a parameter filled by a naming practice constituted by a dubbing, which consists in calling via the name one’s interlocutor’s attention to something (if any), and usually also by a certain transmission chain. I will also claim that such a proposal works independently of one’s ontological stance on fictional entities, that is, independently of whether one believes either that there are or that there are no such entities. Moreover, I will claim that such a proposal is better than similar indexicalist proposals such as the one put forward by Tiedke (2011), Finally, I will try to show how this proposal can deal with some objections one may raise against an indexicalist treatment of proper names. (shrink)
The essays collected in this volume are all concerned with the connection between fiction and truth. This question is of utmost importance to metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophical logic and epistemology, raising in each of these areas and at their intersections a large number of issues related to creation, existence, reference, identity, modality, belief, assertion, imagination, pretense, etc. All these topics and many more are addressed in this collection, which brings together original essays written from various points of view (...) by philosophers of diverse trends. These essays constitute major contributions to the current debates that the connection between truth and fiction continually enlivens, and give a sense of the directions in which research on this question is heading. Contributors: Fred Adams, Frederick Kroon, Robert Howell, Brendan Murday, Terence Parsons, Graham Priest, Erich Rast, Manuel Rebuschi, Marion Renauld, R.M. Sainsbury, Grant Tavinor, Alberto Voltolini. (shrink)
How is it that we can be moved by what we know does not exist? In this paper, I examine the so-called 'paradox of fiction', showing that it fatally hinges on cognitive theories of emotion such as Kendall Walton's pretend theory and Peter Lamarque's thought theory. I reject these theories and acknowledge the concept-formative role of genuine emotion generated by fiction. I then argue, contra Jenefer Robinson, that this 'éducation sentimentale' is not achieved through distancing, but rather through (...) the engagement of our emotions. Literature does this, I claim, by its uniquely perspicuous presentations of emotional concepts, and the cognitive pleasure that such 'presentations' prompt in us. (shrink)