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Thomasson, Amie L., , . Fictional characters and literary practices
2003, British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (2):138-157.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: I argue that the ontological status of fictional characters is determined by the beliefs and practices of those who competently deal with works of literature, and draw out three important consequences of this. First, heavily revisionary theories cannot be considered as ‘discoveries’ about the ‘true nature’ of fictional characters; any acceptable realist theory of fiction must preserve all or most of the common conception of fictional characters. Second, once we note that the existence conditions for fictional characters are extremely minimal, it makes little sense to deny the existence of fictional characters, leaving anti-realist views of fiction unmotivated. Finally, the role of ordinary beliefs and practices in determining facts about the ontology of fictional characters explains why non-revisionary theories of fiction are bound to yield no determinate or precise answer to certain questions about fictional characters, demonstrating the limits of a theory of fiction

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Yagisawa, Takashi, , . Against Creationism in Fiction
2001, Noûs 35(s15): 153-172.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Sherlock Holmes is a fictional individual. So is his favorite pipe. Our pre-theoretical intuition says that neither of them is real. It says that neither of them really, or actually, exists. It also says that there is a sense in which they do exist, namely, a sense in which they exist “in the world of” the Sherlock Holmes stories. Our pre-theoretical intuition says in general of any fictional individual that it does not actually exist but exists “in the world of” the relevant fiction. I wish to defend this pre-theoretical intuition. To do so, I need to defend two claims: that fictional individuals do not actually exist, and that they exist “in the world of” the relevant fiction. The aim of this paper is to defend the first claim.

Comment: A good argument against the existence of fictional characters. Clear presentation of the logic involved in various claims. In addition to ontology of art, the case of fictional characters can be an interesting way to present the arguments about ontology and linguistic commitment more generally, and this paper would be useful in that role as well.

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