The aim of this book is to provide a unified solution to a wide range of philosophical problems raised by fiction. While some of these problems have been the focus of extensive philosophical debate, others have received insufficient attention. In particular, the epistemology of fiction has not yet attracted the philosophical scrutiny it warrants. There has been considerable discussion of what determines the contents of works of fiction, but there have been few attempts to explain how audiences identify their contents, (...) or to identify the norms governing the correct understanding and interpretation of works of fiction. -/- This book answers a wide range of both metaphysical and epistemological questions concerning fiction in a way that clarifies the relations between them. The metaphysical questions include: What distinguishes works of fiction from works of non-fiction?; What is the nature of fictive utterances?; What determines the contents of works of fiction?; What kinds of fictive content are there?; How broad in scope is fictive content?; and What kinds of things are fictional entities? The epistemological questions include: How do audiences identify the contents of authors’ fictive utterances?; How does understanding a work of fiction differ from interpreting it?; and What role does thinking and talking about fiction from an external perspective play in enabling communication through fiction? It develops the first single theory that provides answers to all these questions. (shrink)
This challenging study places fiction squarely at the centre of the discussion of metaphysics. Philosophers have traditionally treated fiction as involving a set of narrow problems in logic or the philosophy of language. By contrast Amie Thomasson argues that fiction has far-reaching implications for central problems of metaphysics. The book develops an 'artifactual' theory of fiction, whereby fictional characters are abstract artifacts as ordinary as laws or symphonies or works of literature. By understanding fictional characters we come to understand how (...) other cultural and social objects are established on the basis of the independent physical world and the mental states of human beings. (shrink)
A fictional text is commonly viewed as constituting an invitation to play a certain game of make-believe, with the individual sentences written by the author providing the propositions we are to imagine and/or accept as true within the fiction. However, we can’t always take the text at face value. What narratologists call ‘unreliable narrators’ may present a confused or misleading picture of the fictional world. Meanwhile there has been a debate in philosophy about so-called ‘imaginative resistance’ in which we are (...) inclined to resist imagining (or even accepting as true in the fiction) what’s explicitly stated in the text. But if we can’t take the text’s word for it, how do we determine what’s true in a fiction? We propose an account of fiction interpretation in a dynamic setting (a version of DRT with a mechanism for opening, updating, and closing temporary ‘workspaces’) and combine this framework with belief revision logic. With these tools in hand we turn to modelling imaginative resistance and unreliable narrators. (shrink)
Fictional names pose a difficult puzzle for semantics. We can truthfully maintain that Frodo is a hobbit, while at the same time admitting that Frodo does not exist. To reconcile this paradox I propose a way to formalize the interpretation of fiction as ‘prescriptions to imagine’ (Walton 1990) within an asymmetric semantic framework in the style of Kamp (1990). In my proposal, fictional statements are analyzed as dynamic updates on an imagination component of the interpreter’s mental state, while plain assertions (...) are updates on a belief component. Proper names – regular, empty, or fictional – are uniformly analyzed as presupposition triggers. The possibility of different attitude components referentially depending on each other is what ultimately allows us to account for the central paradox mentioned above. (shrink)
Can fictions make genuine assertions about the actual world? Proponents of the ‘Assertion View’ answer the question affirmatively: they hold that authors can assert, by means of explicit statements that are part of the work of fiction, that something is actually the case in the real world. The ‘Nonassertion’ View firmly denies this possibility. In this paper, I defend a nuanced version of the Nonassertion View. I argue that even if fictions cannot assert, they can indirectly communicate that what is (...) recounted as fictional is actually true. I show that this view is supported by independent linguistic data, and that it is able to defuse the objections that are typically raised against the Nonassertion View. I conclude by showing that this position has some interesting implications for testimonial cognitivism about fiction. (shrink)
Do fictions depend upon imagination? Derek Matravers argues against the mainstream view that they do, and offers an original account of what it is to read, listen to, or watch a narrative. He downgrades the divide between fiction and non-fiction, largely dispenses with the imagination, and in doing so illuminates a succession of related issues.
Despite widespread evidence that fictional models play an explanatory role in science, resistance remains to the idea that fictions can explain. A central source of this resistance is a particular view about what explanations are, namely, the ontic conception of explanation. According to the ontic conception, explanations just are the concrete entities in the world. I argue this conception is ultimately incoherent and that even a weaker version of the ontic conception fails. Fictional models can succeed in offering genuine explanations (...) by correctly capturing relevant patterns of counterfactual dependence and licensing correct inferences. Using the example of Newtonian force explanations of the tides, I show how, even in science, fiction can be a vehicle for truth. (shrink)
Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we’re reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we’re playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó Gendler, (...) have discussed apparent counterexamples when p is “morally deviant”. Many other statements that are conceptually impossible also seem to be counterexamples. In this paper I do four things. I survey the range of counterexamples, or at least putative counterexamples, to the principles. Then I look to explanations of the counterexamples. I argue, following Gendler, that the explanation cannot simply be that morally deviant claims are impossible. I argue that the distinctive attitudes we have towards moral propositions cannot explain the counterexamples, since some of the examples don’t involve moral concepts. And I put forward a proposed explanation that turns on the role of ‘higher-level concepts’, concepts that if they are satisfied are satisfied in virtue of more fundamental facts about the world, in fiction, and in imagination. (shrink)
Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...) fictionalism about possible worlds moral fictionalism. R. M. Sainsbury makes extensive use of examples from fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary and examines the work of philosophers who have made significant contributions to the topic, including Meinong, David Lewis, and Bas Van Fraassen. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making _Fiction and Fictionalism_ ideal for those coming to the issue for the first time. (shrink)
If there are no fictional characters, how do we explain thought and discourse apparently about them? If there are, what are they like? A growing number of philosophers claim that fictional characters are abstract objects akin to novels or plots. They argue that postulating characters provides the most straightforward explanation of our literary practices as well as a uniform account of discourse and thought about fiction. Anti-realists counter that postulation is neither necessary nor straightforward, and that the invocation of pretense (...) provides a better account of the same phenomena. I outline and assess these competing theories. (shrink)
Impossible fictions are valuable evidence both for a theory of fiction and for theories of meaning, mind and epistemology. This article focuses on what we can learn about fiction from reflecting on impossible fictions. First, different kinds of impossible fiction are considered, and the question of how much fiction is impossible is addressed. What impossible fiction contributes to our understanding of "truth in fiction" and the logic of fiction will be examined. Finally, our understanding of unreliable narrators and unreliable narration (...) in fiction needs to accommodate stories that, on the face of it, cannot possibly be true. (shrink)
In this entry I present one of the most hotly debated issues in contemporary analytic philosophy regarding the nature of fictional entities and the motivations that might be adduced for and against positing them into our ontology. The entry is divided in two parts. In the first part I offer an overview of the main accounts of the metaphysics of fictional entities according to three standard realist views, fictional Meinongianism, fictional possibilism and fictional creationism. In the second part I describe (...) two main kinds of arguments for or against positing fictional entities into our ontology. The first kind is traditionally inspired by the linguistic data coming from our talk about fictional characters. The second kind is more recent and it builds on genuine ontological considerations. (shrink)
One of the basic insights of the book is that there is a notion of non-relational linguistic representation which can fruitfully be employed in a systematic approach to literary fiction. This notion allows us to develop an improved understanding of the ontological nature of fictional entities. A related insight is that the customary distinction between extra-fictional and intra-fictional contexts has only a secondary theoretical importance. This distinction plays a central role in nearly all contemporary theories of literary fiction. There is (...) a tendency among researchers to take it as obvious that the contrast between these two types of contexts is crucial for understanding the boundary that divides fiction from non-fiction. Seen from the perspective of non-relational representation, the key question is rather how representational networks come into being and how consumers of literary texts can, and do, engage with these networks. As a whole, the book provides, for the first time, a comprehensive artefactualist account of the nature of fictional entities. (shrink)
A legal fiction is a knowingly false assumption that is given effect in a legal proceeding and that participants are not permitted to disprove. I offer a semantic pretence theory that shows how fiction-involving legal reasoning works.
Science is popularly understood as being an ideal of impartial algorithmic objectivity that provides us with a realistic description of the world down to the last detail. The essays collected in this book—written by some of the leading experts in the field—challenge this popular image right at its heart, taking as their starting point that science trades not only in truth, but in fiction, too. With case studies that range from physics to economics and to biology, _Fictions in Science_ reveals (...) that fictions are as ubiquitous in scientific narratives and practice as they are in any other human endeavor, including literature and art. Of course scientific activity, most prominently in the formal sciences, employs logically precise algorithmic thinking. However, the key to the predictive and technological success of the empirical sciences might well lie elsewhere—perhaps even in scientists’ extraordinary creative imagination instead. As these essays demonstrate, within the bounds of what is empirically possible, a scientist’s capacity for invention and creative thinking matches that of any writer or artist. (shrink)
In this paper I confront what I take to be the crucial challenge for fictional realism, i.e. the view that fictional characters exist. This is the problem of accounting for the intuition that corresponding negative existentials such as ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ are true (when, given fictional realism, taken literally they seem false). I advance a novel and detailed form of the response according to which we take them to mean variants of such claims as: there is no concrete (...) x such that x is Sherlock Holmes. (shrink)
We refine a line of feminist criticism of pornography that focuses on pornographic works' pernicious effects. A.W. Eaton argues that inegalitarian pornography should be criticized because it is responsible for its consumers’ adoption of inegalitarian attitudes toward sex in the same way that other fictions are responsible for changes in their consumers’ attitudes. We argue that her argument can be improved with the recognition that different fictions can have different modes of persuasion. This is true of film and television: a (...) satirical movie such as Dr. Strangelove does not morally educate in the same way as a realistic series such as The Wire. We argue that this is also true of pornography: inegalitarian depictions of sex are not invariably responsible for consumers' adoption of inegalitarian attitudes toward sex in reality. Given that pornographic works of different genres may harm in different ways, different feminist criticisms are appropriate for different genres of pornography. (shrink)
My goal is to reflect on the phenomenon of inadvertent creation and argue that—various objections to the contrary—it doesn’t undermine the view that fictional characters are abstract artifacts. My starting point is a recent challenge by Jeffrey Goodman that is originally posed for those who hold that fictional characters and mythical objects alike are abstract artifacts. The challenge: if we think that astronomers like Le Verrier, in mistakenly hypothesizing the planet Vulcan, inadvertently created an abstract artifact, then the “inadvertent creation” (...) element turns out to be inescapable yet theoretically unattractive. Based on considerations about actually existing concrete objects featured in fictional works (as Napoleon is in Tolstoy’s War and Peace), I argue that independently of one’s stand on mythical objects, admitting fictional characters as abstract artifacts is enough to give rise to the challenge at hand; yet this very point serves to undermine the challenge, indicating that inadvertent creation is not nearly as worrisome as Goodman suggests. Indeed, the inadvertent creation phenomenon’s generality extends far beyond objects of fiction and myth, and I will use this observation to counter a further objection. Taking fictional characters (and mythical objects) to be abstract artifacts therefore remains a viable option. (shrink)
Psychological studies on fictional persuasion demonstrate that being engaged with fiction systematically affects our beliefs about the real world, in ways that seem insensitive to the truth. This threatens to undermine the widely accepted view that beliefs are essentially regulated in ways that tend to ensure their truth, and may tempt various non-doxastic interpretations of the belief-seeming attitudes we form as a result of engaging with fiction. I evaluate this threat, and argue that it is benign. Even if the relevant (...) attitudes are best seen as genuine beliefs, as I think they often are, their lack of appropriate sensitivity to the truth does not undermine the essential tie between belief and truth. To this end, I shall consider what I take to be the three most plausible models of the cognitive mechanisms underlying fictional persuasion, and argue that on none of these models does fictional persuasion undermine the essential truth-tie. (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 verb 'imagine' admits of perspectival modification: we can imagine things from above, from a distant point of view, or from the point of view of a Russian. But in such cases, there need be no person, either real or imagined, who is above or distant from what is imagined, or who has the point of view of a Russian. We call this the puzzle of perspectival displacement. This paper sets out the puzzle, shows how it does not just concern (...) language, but also states of imagining themselves, and then presents a solution. The solution draws on the idea that many reports of imagining conceal a distinctive kind of question, and such concealed questions have an extra argument place for (what we will call) an experiencer from whose perspective things are imagined. This solution has a range of advantages over other proposals in the literature, and helps to advance two debates concerning perspectival engagement with fiction. (shrink)
A timely volume that uses science fiction as a springboard to meaningful philosophical discussions, especially at points of contact between science fiction and new scientific developments. Raises questions and examines timely themes concerning the nature of the mind, time travel, artificial intelligence, neural enhancement, free will, the nature of persons, transhumanism, virtual reality, and neuroethics Draws on a broad range of books, films and television series, including _The Matrix, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Frankenstein, Brave New World, The Time Machine,_ and (...) _Back to the Future_ Considers the classic philosophical puzzles that appeal to the general reader, while also exploring new topics of interest to the more seasoned academic. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop an analysis of unrealistic fiction that captures the everyday sense of ‘unrealistic’. On our view, unrealistic fictions are a species of inconsistent fictions, but fictions for which such inconsistency, given the supporting role we claim played by genre, needn’t be a critical defect. We first consider and reject an analysis of unrealistic fiction as fiction that depicts or describes unlikely events; we then develop our own account and make an initial statement of it: unrealistic fictions (...) are those that invite us to believe something false. We further develop this account and restate it in terms of the notion of “import-export inconsistency.” That is, unrealistic fictions invite us to import certain propositions true in the actual world then invite us to export propositions entailing the negation of those imported. Finally, we consider whether for fiction being unrealistic is always an aesthetic flaw. (shrink)
This book examines what, if anything, makes a depiction of fictional immorality—such as the murder, torture, or sexual assault of a fictional character—an example of immoral fiction, and therefore something that should be morally criticized and possibly prohibited.
Literary fiction is of crucial importance in human life. It is a source of understanding and insight into the nature of the human condition, yet ever since Plato, philosophers have struggled to provide a plausible explanation of how this can be the case. For surely the fictionality - the sheer invented character - of the literary text means that fiction presents not our world, but other worlds? In Fiction and the Weave of Life, John Gibson offers a novel and (...) intriguing account of the relationship between literature and everyday life, and shows how literature can give us an understanding of our world without literally being about our world. (shrink)
A well-known theory about under which circumstances a statement is true in a fiction is The Reality Principle, which originate in the work of David Lewis: (RP) Where p1... pn are the primary fictional truths of a fiction F , it is true in F that q iff the following holds: were p1 ... pn the case, q would have been the case (Walton 1990: 44). RP has been subjected to a number of counterexamples, up to a point where, in (...) the words of Stacie Friend “it is widely recognized that the Reality Principle […] cannot be a universal inference rule for implied story-truths” (Friend 2017: 33). This chapter argues that the strength of these counterexamples is widely overestimated, and that they do not, on closer scrutiny, constitute reasons for rejecting RP. (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.
In recent work, Walton has abandoned his very influential account of the fictionality of p in a fictional work in terms of prescriptions to imagine emanating from it. He offers examples allegedly showing that a prescription to imagine p in a given work of fiction is not sufficient for the fictionality of p in that work. In this paper, both in support and further elaboration of a constitutive-norms speech-act variation on Walton’s account that I have defended previously, I (...) critically discuss his objections. In addition to answering his concerns and developing the account further, I provide additional abductive support for its explanatory virtues vis-à- institutional accounts like Walton’s, and Gricean speech-act proposals. (shrink)
Reading fiction from high and low culture together, Fiction, Crime, and Empire skillfully sheds light on how crime fiction responded to the British and American experiences of empire, and how forms such as the detective novel, spy thrillers, and conspiracy fiction articulate powerful cultural responses to imperialism. Poe's Dupin stories, for example, are seen as embodying a highly critical vision of the social forces that were then transforming the United States into a modern, democratic industrialized nation; a century later, Le (...) Carré employs the conventions of espionage fiction to critique the exhausted and morally compromised values of British imperialism. By exploring these works through the organizing figure of crime during and after the age of high imperialism, Thompson challenges and modifies commonplace definitions of modernism, postmodernism, and popular or mass culture. (shrink)
Fictional characters are awkward creatures. They are described as being girls, detectives, and cats; as being famous, based on real people, and well developed, and as being paradigmatic examples of things that don’t exist. It’s not hard to see that there are tensions between these various descriptions—how can something that is a detective not exist?—and there is a range of views designed to make sense of the pre-theoretical data. Fictional realists hold that we should accept that fictional characters are part (...) of ‘the furniture of our world’. Others are fictional anti-realists, who hold instead that our world does not contain any such things. In this article, I deploy an independently motivated metaontology to defend a novel version of fictional anti-realism. On the view I develop and defend, the central task we face is that of explaining facts concerning fictional characters, where the relevant notion of explanation is distinctively metaphysical in character. Fictional anti-realism emerges as the plausible thesis that facts about fictional entities can be completely explained in terms of the existence and features of other things. (shrink)
Eleven original essays discuss a range of puzzling philosophical questions about fictional characters, and more generally about fictional objects. For example, they ask questions like the following: Do they really exist? What would fictional objects be like if they existed? Do they exist eternally? Are they created? Who by? When and how? Can they be destroyed? If so, how? Are they abstract or concrete? Are they actual? Are they complete objects? Are they possible objects? How many fictional objects are there? (...) What are their identity conditions? What kinds of attitudes can we have towards them? This volume will be a landmark in the philosophical debate about fictional objects, and will influence higher-level debates within metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
Conventional medical ethics and the law draw a bright line distinguishing the permitted practice of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from the forbidden practice of active euthanasia by means of a lethal injection. When clinicians justifiably withdraw life-sustaining treatment, they allow patients to die but do not cause, intend, or have moral responsibility for, the patient's death. In contrast, physicians unjustifiably kill patients whenever they intentionally administer a lethal dose of medication. We argue that the differential moral assessment of these two practices (...) is based on a series of moral fictions – motivated false beliefs that erroneously characterize withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in order to bring accepted end-of-life practices in line with the prevailing moral norm that doctors must never kill patients. When these moral fictions are exposed, it becomes apparent that conventional medical ethics relating to end-of-life decisions is radically mistaken. (shrink)
Fictional realists maintain that fictional characters are part of the world’s ontology. In an influential article, Anthony Everett argues that the fictional realist is thereby committing herself to problematic entities. Among these are entities that are indeterminately identical. Recently, Ross Cameron and Richard Woodward have answered Everett’s worry using the same strategy. They argue that the fictional realist can bypass the problematic identities by contending that they are merely semantically indeterminate. This paper concisely surveys Everett’s original argument, Cameron’s and Woodward’s (...) responses, and then argues that the strategy employed by Cameron and Woodward fails to satisfactorily answer Everett’s worries. (shrink)
Writers of fiction have always confronted topics of crime and punishment. This age-old fascination with crime on the part of both authors and readers is not surprising, given that criminal justice touches on so many political and psychological themes essential to literature, and comes equippedwith a trial process that contains its own dramatic structure. This volume explores this profound and enduring literary engagement with crime, investigation, and criminal justice. The collected essays explore three themes that connect the world of law (...) with that of fiction. First, defining and punishing crime is one of the fundamental purposes of government,along with the protection of victims by the prevention of crime. And yet criminal punishment remains one of the most abused and terrifying forms of political power. Second, crime is intensely psychological and therefore an important subject by which a writer can develop and explore character. Athird connection between criminal justice and fiction involves the inherently dramatic nature of the legal system itself, particularly the trial. Moreover, the ongoing public conversation about crime and punishment suggests that the time is ripe for collaboration between law and literature in thistroubled domain.The essays in this collection span a wide array of genres, including tragic drama, science fiction, lyric poetry, autobiography, and mystery novels. The works discussed include works as old as fifth-century BCE Greek tragedy and as recent as contemporary novels, memoirs, and mystery novels. Thecumulative result is arresting: there are "killer wives" and crimes against trees; a government bureaucrat who sends political adversaries to their death for treason before falling to the same fate himself; a convicted murderer who doesn't die when hanged; a psychopathogical collector whose quitesane kidnapping victim nevertheless also collects; Justice Thomas' reading and misreading of Bigger Thomas; a man who forgives his son's murderer and one who cannot forgive his wife's non-existent adultery; fictional detectives who draw on historical analysis to solve murders. These essays begin aconversation, and they illustrate the great depth and power of crime in literature. (shrink)
Tod Chambers suggests that literary theory is a crucial component in the complete understanding of bioethics. _The Fiction of Bioethics_ explores the medical case study and distills the idea that bioethicists study real-life cases, while philosophers contemplate fictional accounts.
Fictional Discourse: A Radical Fictionalist Semantics combines the insight of linguistic and philosophical semantics with the study of fictional language. Its central idea is familiar to anyone exposed to the ways of narrative fiction, namely the notion of a fictional teller. Starting with premises having to do with fictional names such as 'Holmes' or 'Emma', Stefano Predelli develops Radical Fictionalism, a theory that is subsequently applied to central themes in the analysis of fiction. Among other things, he discusses the distinction (...) between storyworlds and narrative peripheries, the relationships between homodiegetic and heterodiegetic narrative, narrative time, unreliability, and closure. The final chapters extend Radical Fictionalism to critical discourse, as Predelli introduces the ideas of critical and biased retelling, and pauses on the relationships between Radical Fictionalism and talk about literary characters. (shrink)
It is widely believed, among philosophers of literature, that imagining contradictions is as easy as telling or reading a story with contradictory content. Italo Calvino’s The Nonexistent Knight, for instance, concerns a knight who performs many brave deeds, but who does not exist. Anything at all, they argue, can be true in a story, including contradictions and other impossibilia. While most will readily concede that we cannot objectually imagine contradictions, they nevertheless insist that we can propositionally imagine them, and regularly (...) do, simply by entertaining a text which prompts us to do so. I argue that this narrative does not bear scrutiny for two main reasons. First, because propositional imagining is beside the point, where truth in fiction is concerned; evaluating truth in fiction engages the cognitive architecture in ways that prohibit the mobilization of merely propositional imagination to that end. And second, because it is not obvious, given the strategies usually suggested, that we ever propositionally imagine contradictions in the first place—in fact, it seems we go out of our way to avoid directly imagining them. (shrink)
The problem of intersubjective identification arises from the difficulties of explaining how our thoughts and discourse about fictional characters can be directed towards the same (or different) characters given the assumption that there are no fictional entities. In this paper I aim to offer a solution in terms of participation in a practice of thinking and talking about the same thing, which is inspired by Sainsbury's name-using practices. I will critically discuss a similar idea that was put forward by Friend (...) in terms of participation in what Perry calls a notion-network. I will then argue in favor of Sainsbury's baptism-based approach against Perry's information-based approach and I will answer some recent objections that Friend put forward against the former. (shrink)
Understanding scientific modelling can be divided into two sub-projects: analysing what model-systems are, and understanding how they are used to represent something beyond themselves. The first is a prerequisite for the second: we can only start analysing how representation works once we understand the intrinsic character of the vehicle that does the representing. Coming to terms with this issue is the project of the first half of this chapter. My central contention is that models are akin to places and characters (...) of literary fictions, and that therefore theories of fiction play an essential role in explaining the nature of model-systems. This sets the agenda. Section 2 provides a statement of this view, which I label the fiction view of model-systems, and argues for its prima facie plausibility. Section 3 presents a defence of this view against its main rival, the structuralist conception of models. In Section 4 I develop an account of model-systems as imagined objects on the basis of the so-called pretence theory of fiction. This theory needs to be discussed in great detail for two reasons. First, developing an acceptable account of imagined objects is mandatory to make the fiction view acceptable, and I will show that the pretence theory has the resources to achieve this goal. Second, the term ‘representation’ is ambiguous; in fact, there are two very different relations that are commonly called ‘representation’ and a conflation between the two is the root of some of the problems that beset scientific representation. Pretence theory provides us with the conceptual resources to articulate these two different forms of representation, which I call p-representation and t-representation respectively. Putting these elements together provides us with a coherent overall picture of scientific modelling, which I develop in Section 5. (shrink)
Standard theories define fiction in terms of an invited response of imagining or make-believe. I argue that these theories are not only subject to numerous counterexamples, they also fail to explain why classification matters to our understanding and evaluation of works of fiction as well as non-fiction. I propose instead that we construe fiction and non-fiction as genres: categories whose membership is determined by a cluster of nonessential criteria, and which play a role in the appreciation of particular works. I (...) claim that this proposal captures the intuitions motivating alternative theories of fiction. (shrink)
Many philosophers have drawn parallels between scientific models and fictions. In this paper I will be concerned with a recent version of the analogy, which compares models to the imagined characters of fictional literature. Though versions of the position differ, the shared idea is that modeling essentially involves imagining concrete systems analogously to the way that we imagine characters and events in response to works of fiction. Advocates of this view argue that imagining concrete systems plays an ineliminable role in (...) the practice of modeling that cannot be captured by other accounts. The approach thus leaves open what we should say about the ontological status of model-systems, and here advocates differ among themselves, defending a variety of realist or anti-realist positions. I argue that this debate over the ontological status of model-systems is misguided. If model-systems are the kinds of objects fictional realists posit, they can play no role in explaining the epistemology of modeling for an advocate of this approach. So they are at best superfluous. Defenders of the approach should focus on developing an account of the epistemological role of imagining model-systems. (shrink)
In this chapter we argue that some beliefs present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief, according to which it is constitutive of belief that it is aimed at truth. We draw on empirical literature which shows that subjects form beliefs about the real world when they read fictional narratives, even when those narratives are presented as fiction, and subjects are warned that the narratives may contain falsehoods. We consider Nishi Shah’s teleologist’s dilemma and a response to it (...) from Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen which appeals to weak truth regulation as a feature common to all belief. We argue that beliefs from fiction indicate that there is not a basic level of truth regulation common to all beliefs, and thus the teleologist’s dilemma remains. We consider two objections to our argument. First, that the attitudes gained through reading fiction are not beliefs, and thus teleologists are not required to account for them in their theory. We respond to this concern by defending a doxastic account of the attitudes gained from fiction. Second, that these beliefs are in fact appropriately truth-aimed, insofar as readers form beliefs upon what they take to be author testimony. We respond to this concern by suggesting that the conditions under which one can form justified beliefs upon testimony are not met in the cases we discuss. Lastly, we gesture towards a teleological account grounded in biological function, which is not vulnerable to our argument. We conclude that beliefs from fiction present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief. (shrink)
In works of literary fiction, it is a part of the fiction that the words of the text are being recounted by some work-internal 'voice': the literary narrator. One can ask similarly whether the story in movies is told in sights and sounds by a work-internal subjectivity that orchestrates them: a cinematic narrator. George M. Wilson argues that movies do involve a fictional recounting (an audio-visual narration ) in terms of the movie's sound and image track. Viewers are usually prompted (...) to imagine seeing the items and events in the movie's fictional world and to imagine hearing the associated fictional sounds. However, it is much less clear that the cinematic narration must be imagined as the product of some kind of 'narrator' - of a work-internal agent of the narration. Wilson goes on to examine the further question whether viewers imagine seeing the fictional world face-to-face or whether they imagine seeing it through some kind of work-internal mediation . It is a key contention of this book that only the second of these alternatives allows one to give a coherent account of what we do and do not imagine about what we are seeing on the screen. Having provided a partial account of the foundations of film narration, the final chapters explore the ways in which certain complex strategies of cinematic narration are executed in three exemplary films: David Fincher's Fight Club , von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress , and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. (shrink)
Engagement with fiction often inspires emotional responses. We may pity Sethe while feeling ambivalent about her actions (in Beloved), fear for Ellen Ripley as she battles monstrous creatures (in Alien), get angry at Okonkwo for killing Ikemefuna (in Things Fall Apart), and hope that Kiyoaki and Satoko find love (in Spring Snow). Familiar as they are, these reactions are puzzling. Why do I respond emotionally if I do not believe that these individuals exist or that the events occurred? If I (...) merely imagine that my best friend has betrayed me, I do not become angry with him; if I did, I would be considered irrational. Yet although beliefs seem to be necessary for emotions in other contexts, we respond to fiction without the relevant beliefs. These observations prompt two questions about our emotional responses to fiction (henceforth: fictional emotions). The first is descriptive: Should fictional emotions be classified as the same kind of emotions we experience in other contexts? The second is normative: Are fictional emotions irrational or otherwise inappropriate? I take each of these debates in turn. (shrink)
I present and discuss a counterexample to Kendall Walton's necessary condition for fictionality that arises from considering serial fictions. I argue that although Walton has not in fact provided a necessary condition for fictionality, a more complex version of Walton's condition is immune from the counterexample.
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)
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)