A Defense of Taking Some Novels As Arguments

In B. J. Garssen, D. Godden, G. Mitchell & A. F. Snoeck Henkemans (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation [CD-ROM]. Amsterdam: Sic Sat. pp. 1169-1177 (2015)
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This paper’s main thesis is that in virtue of being believable, a believable novel makes an indirect transcendental argument telling us something about the real world of human psychology, action, and society. Three related objections are addressed. First, the Stroud-type objection would be that from believability, the only conclusion that could be licensed concerns how we must think or conceive of the real world. Second, Currie holds that such notions are probably false: the empirical evidence “is all against this idea…that readers’ emotional responses track the real causal relations between things.” Third, responding with a full range of emotions to a novel surely requires that it be believable. Yet since we know the novel is fiction, we do not believe it. So in what does its believability consist?

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Gilbert Edward Plumer
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (PhD)


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