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fictional names

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


L ogic, metaphysics, philosophy of language Names of invented objects, characters, and places in novels, myths, and other forms of narration. Examples include “Hamlet” and “the Golden Mountain.” These names do not refer to existing things, but they appear to refer to something rather than nothing. The existence of fictional names creates many philosophical puzzles. If a name obtains its meaning from the objects to which it refers, it is difficult to understand how fictional names gain their meaning. Various responses have been proposed. Some claim that fictional names refer to beings of a special kind, which subsist rather than exist. Others attempt to analyze the sentences in which fictional names occur into sentences in which they do not occur. Others suggest that fictional names do not refer, but merely pretend to refer. Others use the apparatus of possible worlds to claim that a fictional name refers to an individual in a possible world, with the unity of that individual given by the narratives in which its name occurs or in terms of a causal theory of reference . Understanding fictional names will help us to understand meaning and reference more generally as well as our response to fictional characters in novels and drama. “For each fictional name in a story, I suggest, a stylised sentence expressing its Story Line will contain a quantifier and a conjunct introducing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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