Fiction's ontological commitments

Philosophical Forum 40 (4):473-488 (2009)
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Abstract
This article examines one way in which a fiction can carry ontological commitments. The ontological commitments that the article examines arise in cases where there are norms governing discourse about items in a fiction that cannot be accounted for by reference to the contents of the sentences that constitute a canonical telling of that fiction. In such cases, a fiction may depend for its contents on the real-world properties of real-world items, and the fiction may, in that sense, be ontologically committed. Having outlined a way of gauging the ontological commitments of a fiction, the article concludes by illustrating the way in which these considerations can be put to work in assessing the prospects of using fictionalism as a tactic for understanding the metaphysics of modality without incurring a commitment to the real existence of merely possible worlds.
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