Philosophical Perspectives on Fictional Characters

New Literary History 42 (2):337-360 (2011)
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Abstract

This paper takes up a series of basic philosophical questions about the nature and existence of fictional characters. We begin with realist approaches that hinge on the thesis that at least some claims about fictional characters can be right or wrong because they refer to something that exists, such as abstract objects. Irrealist approaches deny such realist postulations and hold instead that fictional characters are a figment of the human imagination. A third family of approaches, based on work by Alexius Meinong, seeks an alternative to the realist/irrealist dilemma. Neo-Meinongian theories rely upon a distinction between being and existence, the key contention being that unlike human beings, fictional characters have only the former. Having surveyed relevant work by contemporary metaphysicians and philosophers of language, this paper discusses issues related to the distinction between characters and other aspects of the content of fictions, including the relation between personality theory and literary conceptions of character

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Author Profiles

Paisley Livingston
Lingnan University
Andrea Sauchelli
Lingnan University

References found in this work

Ontological dependence.Fabrice Correia - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (5):1013-1032.
The ontology of art and knowledge in aesthetics.Amie L. Thomasson - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (3):221–229.
On the (so-called) puzzle of imaginative resistance.Kendall Lewis Walton - 2006 - In Shaun Nichols (ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 137-148.
Possible Worlds Semantics and Fiction.Diane Proudfoot - 2006 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 35:9-40.

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