'Of course there are fictional characters'

Revue Internationale de Philosophie 262 (4):615-40 (2012)
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There is no straightforward inference from there being fictional characters to any interesting form of realism. One reason is that “fictional” may be an intensional operator with wide scope, depriving the quantifier of its usual force. Another is that not all uses of “there are” are ontologically committing. A realist needs to show that neither of these phenomena are present in “There are fictional characters”. Other roads to realism run into difficulties when negotiating the role that presupposition plays when we make intuitive evaluations of the truth or falsehood of sentences involving fiction, for we may presuppose things we do not believe. This means that a judgment of truth, implicitly relative to a presupposition we do not believe, can be sincerely made by someone who, from a more austere perspective, would regard the judgment as false.

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Mark Sainsbury
University of Texas at Austin


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