Devitt on Empty Names

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):51-62 (2006)
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Abstract

The paper deals with the topic of empty terms as considered in chapter six of Devitt’s book Designation. Devitt’s proposal is that a statement about fiction is (usually) implicitly preceded by a fiction operator roughly paraphrasable by “it is pretended that” or “in fiction”. The causal chain that forms the network for a fictitious name are not d(esignational)-chains, for they are not grounded in an object. Nevertheless, although the fictitious name does not designate, we could say that it stands in some other referential relationship to the world: it ‘F(ictionally)-designates’. It seem that we could then state truth conditions of a F-sentence using F-designation: the F-operator direct us to look not for the designatum of name but for its F-designatum. The name (for example, “Napoleon” in War and Peace), though nonempty, is just like a fictitious name. In proposing that nonempty names in fiction refer to real items, I argue against the view that “Napoleon” in the War and Peace designates the famous general, Napoleon, and F-designates parts of War and Peace. The referent of F-designation is Napoleon, famous general, too. At the end of the paper I claim that Devitt, if he wants to remain a modal fictionalist, has to renounce the view of one-world metaphysics.

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