Fictional Domains

Noûs (forthcoming)
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(Open Access.) Quantifiers frequently figure in works of fiction. But occurrences of quantificational expressions within fictions seem no more inevitably to be associated with real domains than uses of names within fictions seem inevitably to be associated with existing referents. The paper outlines some philosophical puzzles resulting from this apparent lack of associated domains, puzzles that are broadly analogous to more familiar ones raised by the apparently nonreferential nature of many fictional names. The paper argues, in the light of an important disanalogy between quantifiers and names, that the quantificational puzzles are substantive, in that they cannot be resolved merely by appealing to the possibility of empty domains. It then argues that, despite the cited parallels between occurrences of quantifiers and names within fictions, promising treatments of fictional names do not always straightforwardly generalise to provide accounts of the quantificational phenomena: the quantificational puzzles are therefore not only substantive but also distinctive. The paper provides further testament to the depth and interest of the problems involving content that are generated by fiction, by identifying a very wide range of previously neglected cases, while also helping to situate within a broader context the notoriously hard philosophical challenges posed by fictional names.

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Dominic Gregory
University of Sheffield


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