Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...) fictionalism about possible worlds moral fictionalism. R. M. Sainsbury makes extensive use of examples from fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary and examines the work of philosophers who have made significant contributions to the topic, including Meinong, David Lewis, and Bas Van Fraassen. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making _Fiction and Fictionalism_ ideal for those coming to the issue for the first time. (shrink)
In the early part of the paper, I attempt to explain a dispute between two parties who endorse the compositionality of language but disagree about its implications: Paul Horwich, and Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore. In the remainder of the paper, I challenge the thesis on which they are agreed, that compositionality can be taken for granted. I suggest that it is not clear what compositionality involves nor whether it obtains. I consider some kinds of apparent counterexamples, and compositionalist responses (...) to them in terms of covert indexicality and unspecific meanings. I argue that the last option is the best for most of the cases I consider. I conclude by stressing, as against Horwich and Fodor and Lepore, that the appropriate question concerns the extent to which compositionality obtains in a natural language, rather than whether it obtains or not, so that the answer is essentially messy, requiring detailed consideration of a wide range of examples. (shrink)
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
This belongs to a symposium about Crispin Wright's Truth\nand Objectivity. Wright entertains the "possibility of a\npluralist view of truth." I suggest that this should not\nentail ambiguity in the word "true." For truth to amount to\ndifferent things for different kinds of subject matter no\nmore entails ambiguity than does the fact that existence\namounts to different things for different kinds of entity.\nTurning to cognitive command, I argue that it is trivially\nsatisfied: if I judge that p and you disagree, then under\nsuitable conditions I must (...) take it that something is wrong\nwith your cognitive mechanisms. (shrink)
Logic ought to guide our thinking. It is better, more rational, more intelligent to think logically than to think illogically. Illogical thought leads to bad judgment and error. In any case, if logic had no role to play as a guide to thought, why should we bother with it? The somewhat naïve opinions of the previous paragraph are subject to attack from many sides. It may be objected that an activity does not count as thinking at all unless it is (...) at least minimally logical, so logic is constitutive of thought rather than a guide to it. Or it may be objected that whereas logic describes a system of timeless relations between propositions, thinking is a dynamic process involving revisions, and so could not use a merely static guide. Or again the objection may be that there is no such thing as logic, only a whole variety of different logics, not all of which could possibly be good guides. (shrink)
I argue against a standard conception of classification, according to which concepts classify by drawing boundaries. This conception cannot properly account for "higher-order vagueness." I discuss in detail claims by Crispin Wright about "definitely," and its connection with higher-order vagueness. Contrary to Wright, I argue that the line between definite cases of red and borderline ones is not sharp. I suggest a new conception of classification: many concepts classify without drawing boundaries; they are boundaryless. Within this picture, there are no (...) orders of vagueness, though the phenomena which suggest the description "higher-order vagueness" are real enough. (shrink)
People use words and concepts to refer to things. There are agents who refer, there are acts of referring, and there are tools to refer with: words and concepts. Reference is a relation between people and things, and also between words or concepts and things, and perhaps it involves all three things at once. It is not just any relation between an action or word and a thing; the list of things which can refer, people, words and concepts, is probably (...) not complete ; and a complete account would need to speak of cases in which the reference relation seems to involve three terms in a different way from the one already mentioned. In the philosophy of language, it has been customary to think of reference as a two-place relation, with some object as the second term and a word or phrase as the first. (shrink)
In Russell's Problems of Philosophy , acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
In Russell's Problems of Philosophy, acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
Understanding has often been regarded as a kind of knowledge. This paper argues that this view is very implausible for understanding words. Instead, a proper account will be of the “analytic-genetic” variety: it will describe immersion in the practice of using a word in such a way that even those not previously equipped with the concepts the word expresses can become immersed. Meeting this condition requires attention to findings in developmental psychology. If you understand a declarative utterance, you thereby know (...) what the speaker said in uttering the words she did. The converse is close to true: if you come to know what a speaker of a declarative utterance has said, then normally you understand the utterance. An example of an abnormal situation would be one in which the speaker’s utterance is in a language you do not understand, but you are authoritatively informed, and so know, what the speaker said. The connection between understanding a whole utterance and knowing something can be preserved by alluding to the basis of the knowledge: it should arise from understanding the words in the utterance, and how they are put together. This leads to a fairly uncontroversial conditional equivalence: (1) If an utterer of an utterance, U, thereby says that p then: (X knows this, on the basis of understanding the words in U and how they are put together) iff (X understands U). The relevant knowledge has no mysteries: it is propositional, typically fully explicit, and is invoked in memory and in reports of speech. The question to be addressed in this paper is whether we can apply this kind of connection between understanding and knowledge to explain what is taken for granted in the equivalence 2 above, namely, the understanding of words. I will suggest that we cannot. Under some idealizations, one can formulate necessarily true equivalences between understanding a word and knowing something, but these equivalences are unilluminating. The knowledge is not of the straightforward kind invoked in connection with whole utterances, and it is mysterious how one might come to possess it. An account of understanding words requires an “analytic-genetic” story, an analysis which offers some philosophical illumination while being consistent with what is known about the genesis of participation in linguistic practices. (shrink)
My commentators point to respects in which the picture provided in Reference without Referents is incomplete. The picture provided no account of how sentences constructed from intensional verbs can be true when one of the referring expressions fails to refer. And it gave an incomplete, and possibly misleading, account of how to understand certain serious uses of fictional names, as in "Anna Karenina is more intelligent than Emma Bovary" and "Anna Karenina does not exist". In the present response, I indicate (...) how I would now wish to make good these deficiencies. The truth of sentences constructed from intensional verbs can be explained in terms of the truth of sentences that are unproblematic for RWR, for example, sentences dominated by operators expressing propositional attitudes. Reflection on the way in which we can temporarily accept commitments we do not in fact share leads to a more nuanced account of serious uses of fictional names, some of which manifest precisely such a temporary acceptance. /// Mis comentadores señalan aspectos en los que la propuesta de Reference without Referents es incompleta: no ofrecía una explicación de cómo oraciones construidas con verbos intensionales pueden ser verdaderas cuando una de las expresiones referenciales no refiere; y dio una explicación incompleta, y quizás engañosa, de cómo entender ciertos usos serios de nombres de ficción como en "Anna Karenina es más inteligente que Emma Bovary" y "Anna Karenina no existe". En esta respuesta indico cómo quiero ahora subsanar estas deficiencias. La verdad de las oraciones construidas con verbos intensionales puede explicarse en términos de la verdad de oraciones que no son problemáticas para la explicación de Reference without Referents, por ejemplo, oraciones dominadas por operadores que expresan actitudes proposicionales. Una reflexión sobre cómo podemos aceptar temporalmente compromisos que de hecho no compartimos conduce a una explicación más matizada de los usos serios de los nombres de ficción, algunos de los cuales manifiestan precisamente esa aceptación temporal. (shrink)
How successful are Fregean theories compared with guise-theoretic Millian theories in dealing with a range of problematic propositional attitude ascriptions? The range considered is roughly that of Paderewski puzzles and their relatives. I argue that these fall into two categories: in one category, the Fregean theory looks to be under pressure from guise-theoretic rivals, though I argue that Fregeans can, to advantage, borrow some guise-theoretic machinery. Concerning the other category, which includes Kripke's two Paderewski puzzles, I argue that these puzzles (...) are neutral between Fregean and Millian approaches; more generally, they have no direct bearing on semantics. Their solution requires correct views about rationality, self-knowledge and transparency. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that a name should be associated with a reference condition, rather than with a referent, just as a sentence should be associated with a truth condition, rather than with a truth value. The suggestion, to be coherent, needs to be set in a freelogical framework (following Burge). A prominent advantage of the proposal is that it gives a straight-forward semantics for empty names. A problem discussed in this paper is that of reconciling the rigidity of (...) names with seeming truths of the form “there might have been such a planet as Vulcan.”. (shrink)
[R. M. Sainsbury] Evans argued that most ordinary proper names were Russellian: to suppose that they have no bearer is to suppose that they have no meaning. The first part of this paper addresses Evans's arguments, and finds them wanting. Evans also claimed that the logical form of some negative existential sentences involves 'really' (e.g. 'Hamlet didn't really exist'). One might be tempted by the view, even if one did not accept its Russellian motivation. However, I suggest that Evans gives (...) no adequate account of 'really', and I point to unclarities in Wiggins's similar, but distinct, attempt to use 'really' in the logical form of true negative existentials. /// [David Wiggins] Evans was not wrong (I maintain) to say that the senses of genuine proper names invoke and require objects. Names in fiction or hypothesis mimic such names. Pace Evans, Sainsbury and free logicians, proper names are scopeless. (Evans's 'Julius' is not a name.) Names create a presumption of existential generalization. In sentences such as 'Vulcan does not really exist', that presumption is bracketed. The sentence specifies by reference to story or report a concept identical with Vulcan and declares it be really uninstantiated. (The sentence, which partakes of play, is a kind of palimpsest.) It is explained why this second level view of 'exists' is to be preferred. (shrink)
Many theories provide semantics for English by proxy of semantics for the "logical form" of English sentences. The paper presents a dilemma: if there is no algorithm for moving between English and logical form, English itself has not been given a semantic theory. But if there is an algorithm, it can be incorporated in the theory, which would then apply directly to English. In the worst case, logical form is an obstacle to providing semantics for English. In the best case, (...) it is unnecessary. (shrink)