Organon 28 (1):9-43 (2021)

Fiora Salis
University of York
According to Millianism, the meaning of a name is exhausted by its referent. According to anti-realism about fictional entities, there are no such entities. If there are no fictional entities, how can we explain the apparent meaningfulness of fictional names? Our best theory of fiction, Walton’s theory of make-believe, makes the same assumptions but lacks the theoretical resources to answer the question. In this paper, I propose a pragmatic solution in terms of two main dimensions of meaning, a subjective, psychological dimension and an intersubjective, public dimension. The psychological dimension builds on the notion of mental files; the public dimension builds on Stalnaker’s notion of common ground. The account is coherent with two main theoretical principles, parsimony and uniformity. Furthermore, it satisfies three explanatory conditions posed by the intentionality of our thought and discourse about fiction, object-directedness, counterfictional imagining and intersubjective identification.
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