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The Fiction of Fictionalism

Filozofia, 2017, vol. 72, No 8, pp. 603-615.
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Fictionalism about fictional entities is an antirealist approach. It suggests that statements of literary criticism are to be understood in the same way as are fictional statements. The latter are naturally understood as being uttered in a pretend mode, i.e. not seriously. Fictionalism has it that the same holds for the former. It is sometimes argued that this is unfaithful to our actual linguistic practice with critical statements. My aim is to strengthen this objection by pointing to some unwelcome consequences of the fictionalist position. It seems plausible that our practice with critical statements allows us: a) to supplement their utterances by remarks such as “And I mean it” or “What I have just said is true”; b) to report on their utterances by using statements such as ‘X asserted that C’ (where X is a speaker and C is a proposition expressed by a critical statement); c) to ask for arguments that would support the truth of critical statements; d) to agree or disagree with other speakers over the truth of critical statements. If fictionalism were correct, our practice with critical statements would not permit moves of these kinds.

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