Restricted quantification, negative existentials, and fiction

Dialectica 57 (2):239–242 (2003)
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Abstract

Realist theories about fictional entities must explain the fact that, in ordinary contexts people deny, apparently in all seriousness, that there are such things as the Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus. The usual explanation treats these denials as involving restricted quantification: The speaker is said to be denying only that the Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus are to be found among real or actual things, not that there are no such things at all. This is unconvincing. The denials may just as naturally be phrased as “The Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus don't exist”, and claims of nonexistence seem not to admit of interpretations corresponding to statements of restricted quantification. Ordinary denials of the existence of fictional entities constitute a severe difficulty for realist theories

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Kendall Walton
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Citations of this work

Fictional Creationism and Negative Existentials.Jeonggyu Lee - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
Fictional Realism and Negative Existentials.Tatjana von Solodkoff - 2014 - In Manuel García-Carpintero & Genoveva Martí (eds.), Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 333-352.
Pretense, existence, and fictional objects.Anthony Everett - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):56–80.

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References found in this work

The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Cambridge, England: Allen & Unwin.
Fiction and Metaphysics.Amie L. Thomasson - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nonexistent Objects.Terence Parsons - 1980 - Yale University Press.

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