This paper provides an overview of the account of fictionality — i.e. the phenomenon of things being true “in” or “according to” fictions — that lies at the heart of Kendall Walton's account of representational art. Walton's central idea is that what it is for a proposition to be fictional is for there to be a prescription to imagine that proposition. As we shall see, however, properly understanding this proposal requires an antecedent grasp of Walton's picture of games of (...) make-believe and the relations that artworks bear to appreciators. Having explicated these connections, we will then examine the extensional accuracy of Walton's account of fictionality and its connections to the wider debate about the interpretation of artworks. (shrink)
In Mimesis as Make-Believe, Kendall Walton gave a pioneering account of the nature of fictionality, which holds that what it is for p to be fictional is for there to exist a prescription to imagine that p. But Walton has recently distanced himself from his original analysis and now holds that prescriptions to imagine are merely necessary conditions on fictionality. Many of the alleged counterexamples that have prompted Walton's retreat are drawn from the field of photography, and it (...) is upon these cases that I focus. I argue that once Walton's analysis is properly articulated, we can accommodate the apparent counterexamples by paying careful attention both to the general features of the photographic medium and the specific features of the photographs in question. (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.
A common approach to drawing boundary between fiction and non-fiction is by appeal to the kinds of speech acts performed by authors of works of the respective categories. Searle, for example, takes fiction to be the product of illocutionary pretense of various kinds on the part of authors and non-fiction to be the product of genuine illocutionary action.1 Currie, in contrast, takes fiction to be the product of sui generis fictional illocutionary action on the part of authors and non-fiction to (...) be the product of assertion and other familiar kinds of illocutionary action.2 The central thesis of this paper is that the speech act approach to fictionality is simply a non-starter. Now it is, of course, commonplace to note that approaches of this kind run into difficulty accommodating nonliterary fictions3 and uncomposed or authorless fictions. What will be argued here, however, is that speech acts analyses are inadequate even understood narrowly as accounts of composed literary fiction. And the reason is that they fail to adequately attend to the distinction between composition and storytelling. (shrink)
Many historians of the calculus deny significant continuity between infinitesimal calculus of the seventeenth century and twentieth century developments such as Robinson’s theory. Robinson’s hyperreals, while providing a consistent theory of infinitesimals, require the resources of modern logic; thus many commentators are comfortable denying a historical continuity. A notable exception is Robinson himself, whose identification with the Leibnizian tradition inspired Lakatos, Laugwitz, and others to consider the history of the infinitesimal in a more favorable light. Inspite of his Leibnizian sympathies, (...) Robinson regards Berkeley’s criticisms of the infinitesimal calculus as aptly demonstrating the inconsistency of reasoning with historical infinitesimal magnitudes. We argue that Robinson, among others, overestimates the force of Berkeley’s criticisms, by underestimating the mathematical and philosophical resources available to Leibniz. Leibniz’s infinitesimals are fictions, not logical fictions, as Ishiguro proposed, but rather pure fictions, like imaginaries, which are not eliminable by some syncategorematic paraphrase. We argue that Leibniz’s defense of infinitesimals is more firmly grounded than Berkeley’s criticism thereof. We show, moreover, that Leibniz’s system for differential calculus was free of logical fallacies. Our argument strengthens the conception of modern infinitesimals as a development of Leibniz’s strategy of relating inassignable to assignable quantities by means of his transcendental law of homogeneity. (shrink)
If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles (...) such cases raise are sometimes grouped under the heading “imaginative resistance”. In this paper, I argue against what I take to be the best attempts to dismiss the puzzles and solve them. I also tease out subtleties not sufficiently addressed in the existing literature and end by defending a unified solution of my own. According to this solution, the puzzling phenomena occur when literary works offer inadequate and exhaustive grounds for claims. The solution’s novelty lies in its giving a normative rather than psychological or alethic explanation for the puzzling phenomena, the relevant norms being those of proper artistic appreciation. (shrink)
The category of works of fiction is a very broad and heterogeneous one. I do have a general thesis in mind about such works, namely, that they themselves are fictional, in much the same way as are the fictional events or entities that they are about. But a defense of such a broad thesis would provide an intractably complex topic for an introductory essay, so I shall here confine myself to a presentation of a similar thesis for narrative theatrical works (...) or plays, performances of which are naturally regarded as involving, or evoking, a “fictional world” whose fictional characters and events are what the work in question is about. Another reason for initially focusing on such narrative plays is because performances of them provide a rich source of epistemic issues about evidence for artistic authenticity or correctness of artworks, which will turn out to be of integral importance to my fictionalist account of plays. (shrink)
La réflexion philosophique sur la non-existence est une thématique qui a été abordée au commencement même de la philosophie et qui suscite, depuis la publication en 1905 de « On Denoting » par Russell, les plus vifs débats en philosophie analytique. Cependant, le débat féroce sur la sémantique des noms propres et des descriptions définies qui surgirent suite à la publication du « On Referring » par Strawson en 1950 n’engagea pas d’étude systématique de la sémantique des fictions. En fait, (...) le développement systématique d’un lien qui articule approches logiques, philosophiques et littéraires de la fiction devait attendre les travaux de John Woods publiés en 1974 dans son livre The Logic of Fiction : A Philosophical Sounding of Deviant Logic. Un des enjeux les plus excitants du livre de Woods se situe au niveau de l’interaction entre les points de vue internalistes ou interne-à-l’histoire (principalement pragmatiques) et les points de vue externalistes ou externe-à-la-fiction (principalement sémantiques). Sur ce point, Woods fut le premier à formuler une sémantique pour l’opérateur de fiction à lire comme « selon l’histoire… » en relation à la notion logique de portée, ce qui permettait l’étude de l’internalisme et de l’externalisme. Suite au livre de Woods, loin de s’essouffler, les débats trouvaient une nouvelle impulsion. Le fait pertinent pour notre article est que la tradition phénoménologique également, l’étude de la fiction a joué un rôle central. En effet, l’une des problématiques les plus sujettes à controverses dans l’intentionnalité est celle de l’indépendance à l’existence, c’est-à-dire le fait que les actes intentionnels n’ont pas besoin d’être forcément dirigés vers un objet existant. Influencée par les travaux de Roman Ingarden (1893-1970), l’un des plus importants disciples de Husserl, Amie L. Thomasson développe le concept phénoménologique de dépendance ontologique en vue d’expliquer les processus de références inter- et transfictionnels – dans le contexte de l’interprétation littéraire par exemple. L’enjeu essentiel de cet article est de proposer une reconstruction multimodale bi-dimensionnelle de la théorie des personnages fictionnels de Ingarden-Thomasson. Cette théorie qui entend prendre au sérieux le fait que les fictions sont des créations montre la voie pour une articulation entre les approches internalistes et externalistes. Nous motivons certains changements quant à l’approche artéfactuelle - incluant une sémantique appropriée pour l’opérateur de fictionalité qui, nous l’espérons, éveillera l’intérêt des théoriciens de la littérature. L’article est à d’autres égards un panorama de la façon dont différents concepts d’intentionnalité pourraient fonder différentes sémantiques formelles pour la fictionalité. Nous proposerons enfin un cadre dialogique qui est une extension modale d’un certain système de preuve développé par Matthieu Fontaine et Juan Redmond. Le cadre dialogique développe la contrepartie inférentielle de la sémantique bi-dimensionnelle introduite par Shahid Rahman et Tero Tulenheimo dans un article récent. (shrink)
It is advisable to treat some sorts of discourse about fiction with the aid of an intensional operator "in such-And-Such fiction...." the operator may appear either explicitly or tacitly. It may be analyzed in terms of similarity of worlds, As follows: "in the fiction f, A" means that a is true in those of the worlds where f is told as known fact rather than fiction that differ least from our world, Or from the belief worlds of the community in (...) which the fiction originated. (shrink)
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. Philosophers have primarily theorized about this phenomenon from the armchair. In this paper, we demonstrate the utility of empirical methods for investigating imaginative resistance. We present two studies that help to establish the psychological reality of imaginative resistance, and to uncover one factor that is significant for explaining this phenomenon but low in psychological salience: genre. Furthermore, our studies have the methodological upshot of showing (...) how empirical tools can complement the predominant armchair approach to philosophical aesthetics. (shrink)
The problem of imaginative resistance holds interest for aestheticians, literary theorists, ethicists, philosophers of mind, and epistemologists. We present a somewhat opinionated overview of the philosophical discussion to date. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. We then review existing responses to the problem, giving special attention to recent research directions. Finally, we consider the philosophical significance that imaginative resistance has—or, at least, is alleged to have—for issues in moral psychology, theories of cognitive architecture, and modal epistemology.
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. On one influential diagnosis of imaginative resistance, the systematic difficulties are due to these particular propositions’ discordance with real-world norms. This essay argues that this influential diagnosis is too simple. While imagination is indeed by default constrained by real-world norms during narrative engagement, it can be freed with the power of genre conventions and expectations.
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)
This paper argues that there is no genuine puzzle of ‘imaginative resistance’. In part 1 of the paper I argue that the imaginability of fictional propositions is relative to a range of different factors including the ‘thickness’ of certain concepts, and certain pre-theoretical and theoretical commitments. I suggest that those holding realist moral commitments may be more susceptible to resistance and inability than those holding non-realist commitments, and that it is such realist commitments that ultimately motivate the problem. However, I (...) argue that the relativity of imaginability is not a particularly puzzling feature of imagination. In part 2, I claim that it is the so-called ‘alethic’ puzzle, concerning fictional truth, which generates a real puzzle about imaginative resistance. However, I argue that the alethic puzzle itself depends on certain realist assumptions about the nature of fictional truth which are implausible and should be rejected in favour of an interpretive view of fictional truth. Once this is done, I contend, it becomes evident that the supposed problem of imaginative resistance as it has hitherto been discussed in the literature is not puzzling at all. (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 article criticises existing solutions to the 'puzzle of imaginative resistance', reconstrues it, and offers a solution of its own. About the Book : Imagination, Philosophy and the Arts is the first comprehensive collection of papers by philosophers examining the nature of imagination and its role in understanding and making art. Imagination is a central concept in aesthetics with close ties to issues in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, yet it has not received the kind of (...) sustained, critical attention it deserves. This collection of seventeen brand new essays critically examines just how and in what form the notion of imagination illuminates fundamental problems in the philosophy of art. (shrink)
An adequate account of the nature of genre and of the criteria for genre membership is essential to understanding the nature of the various categories into which comics can be classified. Because they fail adequately to distinguish genre categories from other ways of categorizing works, including categorizations according to medium or according to style, previous accounts of genre fail to illuminate the nature of comics categories. I argue that genres are sets of conventions that have developed as means of addressing (...) particular interpretative and/or evaluative concerns, and have a history of co‐instantiation within a community, such that a work’s belonging to some genre generates interpretative and evaluative expectations among the members of that community. Genres are distinct from styles in consisting of conventions, and are distinct from media both in consisting of conventions and in generating interpretative and evaluative expectations. (shrink)
Stephen Yablo (2001) argues that traditional fictionalist strategies run into trouble due to a mismatch between the modal status of a claim like ‘2 + 3 = 5’ and the modal status of its fictionalist paraphrase. I argue here that Yablo is best seen as confronting the fictionalist with a dilemma, and then go on to show how this dilemma can be resolved.
Reflections on the Systematic State of the Theory of Fiction. The theory of fiction is systematically located between different types of discourse, of which philosophy, literary criticism and psychology/psychoanalysis are perhaps the most important. My thesis is that empiricist, mainly British philosophical approaches provide fascinating historical models for an analysis of the situation in which we seem caught today between tendencies towards panfictionalization (since Vaihinger) and towards fairly rigid distinctions between fiction and reality. In my perspective, empiricist philosophy is not (...) so much concerned with what is given, but with the control of distinctions between the real and the imaginary under complex social conditions. In that sense, it constitutes striking anticipations of present discussions in evolutionary epistemology, cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis. Here the question is whether we can replace the semantics of fiction and reality by a series of distinctions between the experience of what might be called concrete and what might be called abstract. (shrink)
The essay gives an account of the aesthetics of the Graz school, focusing on the standpoint of the object as well as on that of emotions. Meinong’s reflection on aesthetics stems from a psychological background and comes subsequently to an ontological grounding. After examining the notions of imagination, phantasy-representation, relation and complexion, I show how the theory of production of representations, as well as that of higher-order objects, develops under the impulse of Ehrenfels’ concept of Gestalt qualities; both these theories (...) may be applied to aesthetics in the explanation of artistic creation and of aesthetic objects. Meinong identifies the specific object of aesthetics with the “objective” and distinguishes aesthetic feelings, which are true feelings, from imaginary ones. Witasek develops a psychological aesthetics built on the conceptual framework of Meinongian philosophy: aesthetic properties are ideal and extra-objective, they connect the aesthetic object to the subject’s mental attitude; an aesthetic object is an object endowed with aesthetic properties, such as beauty, which depends on the degree of pleasure or displeasure the object may induce in the subject. Witasek, though, parts from Meinong on both the conception of aesthetic objects and of imaginary feelings. In the last sections, I review the reactions to Witasek’s aesthetics, both positive and negative, within the Graz school itself (in particular Schwarz’ and Saxinger’s ideas on phantasy-feelings, and Ameseder’s on value beauty), and I sketch Ehrenfels’ and Veber’s aesthetic views. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to apply Meinong’s theory of signs to an analysis of literary texts. The focus lies on words and sentences which, according to Meinong, expressing fantasy experiences when they occur in literary texts. He distinguishes between “serious-like” and “shadow-like” fantasy experiences. The former can be detached from their fictional context, i.e., they are also understandable in other contexts. The latter, instead, are dependent on their fictional contexts. This implies that shadow-like fantasy experiences are less specific (...) than serious-like ones. The objects presented by these experiences are the meanings of the signs involved. The definiteness of the experience is related to the completeness of the object; consequently, objects involved in shadow-like experiences are incomplete. In addition to be incomplete, fictional objects can be defined as non-existent objects of higher order, which come into the world through linguistic expression and are tied to the context(s) in which the fantasy has placed them. (shrink)
The theory of fiction is systematically locatedbetween different types of discourse, of which philosophy, literary criticism and psychology/psychoanalysis are perhaps the most important. Mythesis is thatempiricist, mainly British philosophical approaches provide fascinatinghistorical models for an analysis of the situation in which we seem caught today between tendencies towards panfictionalization (since Vaihinger) and towards fairly rigid distinctions between fiction and reality. In my perspective, empiricist philosophy is not so much concerned with what isgiven, but with thecontrol of distinctions between the real (...) and the imaginary under complex social conditions. In that sense, it constitutes striking anticipations of present discussions in evolutionary epistemology, cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis. Here the question is whether we can replace the semantics of fiction and reality by a series of distinctions between the experience of what might be called concrete and what might be called abstract. (shrink)
This is the first volume devoted to the aesthetics of the Graz school. V. Raspa’s introduction gives an outline of the aesthetic themes and exponents of the school. D. Jacquette argues for a Meinongian subjectivistic aesthetic value theory. B. Langlet deals with aesthetic properties and emotions. Ch.G. Allesch presents Witasek's aesthetics in its historical context. Í. Vendrell Ferran investigates the aesthetic experience and quasi-feelings in Meinong, Witasek, Saxinger and Schwarz. R. Martinelli illustrates the musical aesthetics of Ehrenfels, Höfler and Witasek. (...) P. Mahr asks if object-theoretical aesthetics is possible at all. M. Potrc and V. Strahovnik concentrate on Veber's aesthetic judgment. N. Dolcini deals with the migration of ficta, and F. Orilia with words and pictures in fictional stories. (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)
Can fictional narration yield knowledge in a way that depends crucially on its being fictional? This is the hard question of literary cognitivism. It is unexceptional that knowledge can be gained from fictional literature in ways that are not dependent on its fictionality (e.g., the science in science fiction). Sometimes fictional narratives are taken to exhibit the structure of suppositional argument, sometimes analogical argument. Of course, neither structure is unique to narratives. The thesis of literary cognitivism would be supported (...) if some novels exhibit a cogent and special argument structure restricted to fictional narratives. I contend that this is the case for a kind of transcendental argument. The reason is the inclusion and pattern of occurrence of the predicate ‘believable’ in the schema. Believability with respect to fictional stories is quite a different thing than it is with respect to nonfictional stories or anything else. (shrink)
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)
The currently standard approach to fiction is to define it in terms of imagination. I have argued elsewhere (Friend 2008) that no conception of imagining is sufficient to distinguish a response appropriate to fiction as opposed to non-fiction. In her contribution Kathleen Stock seeks to refute this objection by providing a more sophisticated account of the kind of propositional imagining prescribed by so-called ‘fictive utterances’. I argue that although Stock's proposal improves on other theories, it too fails to provide an (...) adequate criterion of fictionality. I conclude by sketching an alternative account according to which fiction is a genre. (shrink)