Fictional Realism and Indeterminate Identity

Journal of Philosophical Research 40:205-225 (2015)
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Fictional realists hold that fictional characters are real entities. However, Anthony Everett [“Against Fictional Realism”, Journal of Philosophy (2005)] notes that some fictions leave it indeterminate whether character A is identical to character B, while other fictions depict A as simultaneously identical and distinct from B. Everett argues that these fictions commit the realist to indeterminate and impossible identity relations among actual entities, and that as such realism is untenable. This paper defends fictional realism: for fictions depicting non-classical identity between A and B, the realist should hold that there are two salient fragments, one with a single character (named both ‘A’ and ‘B’) and the other with two (named ‘A’ and ‘B’, respectively). Truth according to the fiction depicting indeterminate identity is determined by supervaluating over truth according to those salient fragments. For fictions depicting impossible identity, truth is determined by subvaluating over truth according to those two salient fragments.

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