It is usually taken for granted that a necessary condition for knowing that P is the truth of P. It may therefore be claimed that if we assume that we gain some kind of knowledge through fiction (let us call it fictional knowledge) of P*, then P* should be true—in at least a certain sense. My hypothesis is that this assumption grounds the different ways adopted by philosophers for attributing truth-conditions to fictional sentences. My claim in this work is that fictional sentences do not have truth-values and truth-conditions, but I want to maintain that we gain some kind of knowledge through fiction: to this aim, I will characterize the objective content of fictional sentences not in terms of truth-conditions (which are usually described by appealing to rules of the language or rules of interpretation of language independent of the actual users), but in dispositional terms and I will define a necessary condition for fictional knowledge accordingly.
In this paper, I argue that the theory of mental files can provide a unitary cognitive account of how names and singular terms work in fiction. I will suggest that the crucial notion we need is not the one of regular file, i.e., a file whose function is to accumulate information that we take to be about a single object of the outside world, but the notion of indexed file, i.e., a file that stands, in the subject’s mind, for another subject’s file about an object. When we read a novel containing the name of an individual, we acquire (fictional) information about that individual and we store those pieces of information into an indexed file. If the name also refers to a real individual outside the context of fiction, the indexed file is linked with the pre-existing regular file that we have about such individual. Otherwise, the indexed file is linked to a regular file referring to an abstract object, namely the fictional entity itself.
Models for truth in fiction must be able to account for differing versions and interpretations of a given fiction in such a way that prevents contradictions from arising. I propose an analysis of truth in fiction designed to accommodate this. I examine both the interpretation of claims about truth in fiction (the ‘Interpretation Problem’) and the metaphysical nature of fictional worlds and entities (the ‘Metaphysical Problem’). My reply to the Interpretation Problem is a semantic contextualism influenced by Cameron (2012), while my reply to the Metaphysical Problem involves an extension and generalisation of the counterpart-theoretic analysis put forth by Lewis (1978). The proposed analysis considers interpretive context as a counterpart relation corresponding to a set of worlds, W, and states that a sentence φ is true in interpretive context W iff φ is true at every world (w∈W). I consider the implications of this analysis for singular terms in fiction, concluding that their extensions are the members of sets of counterparts. In the case of pre-existing singular terms in fiction, familiar properties of the corresponding actual-world entities are salient in restricting the counterpart relation. I also explore interpretations of sentences concerning multiple fictions and those concerning both fictional and actual entities. This account tolerates a plurality of interpretive approaches, avoiding contradictions.
I defend a how-possibly argument for Kantian (or Kant*-ian) transcendental idealism, drawing on concepts from David Chalmers, Nick Bostrom, and the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. If we are artificial intelligences living in a virtual reality instantiated on a giant computer, then the fundamental structure of reality might be very different than we suppose. Indeed, since computation does not require spatial properties, spatiality might not be a feature of things as they are in themselves but instead only the way that things necessarily appear to us. It might seem unlikely that we are living in a virtual reality instantiated on a non-spatial computer. However, understanding this possibility can help us appreciate the merits of transcendental idealism in general, as well as transcendental idealism’s underappreciated skeptical consequences.
According to phenomenal functionalism, whether some object or event has a given property is determined by the kinds of sensory experiences such objects or events typically cause in normal perceivers in normal viewing conditions. This paper challenges this position and, more specifically, David Chalmers’s use of it in arguing for what he calls virtual realism.
Most discussions of proper names in fiction concern the names of fictional characters, such as ‘Clarissa Dalloway’ or ‘Lilliput.’ Less attention has been paid to referring names in fiction, such as ‘Napoleon’ (in Tolstoy’s War and Peace) or ‘London’ (in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four). This is because many philosophers simply assume that such names are unproblematic; they refer in the usual way to their ordinary referents. The alternative position, dubbed Exceptionalism by Manuel García-Carpintero, maintains that referring names make a distinctive semantic contribution in fiction. In this paper I offer a positive argument for Non-Exceptionalism, relying on the claim that works of both fiction and non-fiction can express the same singular propositions. I go on to defend my account against García-Carpintero’s objections.
In June 2016, David Chalmers delivered the Petrus Hispanus Lectures at the LanCog research group, University of Lisbon, on the subject of objects, properties, and perception in virtual reality environments. The paper resulting from these lectures was subsequently published in Disputatio as “The Virtual and the Real” (vol. IX, 2017, No. 46, pp. 309–52). In it, Chalmers defends virtual realism, according to which virtual objects are bona fide digital objects with virtual counterparts of perceptible properties such as colour and shape, and perception in virtual reality environments is typically veridical rather than illusory. This special issue collects responses to Chalmers due to Claus Beisbart, Jesper Juul, Peter Ludlow, Neil McDonnell and Nathan Wildman, Alyssa Ney, Eric Schwitzgebel, and Marc Silcox; together with a detailed response by Chalmers to each paper.
Singular terms used in fictions for fictional characters raise well-known philosophical issues, explored in depth in the literature. But philosophers typically assume that names already in use to refer to “moderatesized specimens of dry goods” cause no special problem when occurring in fictions, behaving there as they ordinarily do in straightforward assertions. In this paper I continue a debate with Stacie Friend, arguing against this for the exceptionalist view that names of real entities in fictional discourse don’t work there as they do in simple-sentence assertions, but rather as fictional names do.
How to interpret singular terms in fiction? In this paper, we address this semantic question from the perspective of the Artifactual Theory of Fiction (ATF). According to the ATF, fictional characters exist as abstract artifacts created by their author, and preserved through the existence of copies of an original work and a competent readership. We pretend that a well-suited semantics for the ATF can be defined with respect to a modal framework by means of Hintikka’s world lines semantics. The question of the interpretation of proper names is asked in relation to two inference rules, problematic when applied in intensional contexts: the Substitution of Identicals and Existential Generalization. The former fails because identity is contingent. The latter because proper names are not necessarily linked to well-identified individuals. This motivates a non-rigid interpretation of proper names in fiction, although cross-fictional reference (e.g. to real entities) is made possible by the interpretative efforts of the reader.
In this introduction, I consider different problems posed by the use of singular terms in fiction (section 1), paying especial attention to proper names and, in particular, to names of real people, places, etc. As we will see (section 2), descriptivist and Millian theories of reference face different kinds of problems in explaining the use of fictional names in fiction-related contexts. Moreover, the task of advancing a uniform account of names in these contexts—an account which deals not only with fictional names but also with “real” names—will prove to be very hard no matter whether we favour realist or antirealist intuitions about fictional discourse (section 3). Section 4 offers an overview of the content of this volume, with emphasis on the discussion between Manuel García-Carpintero and Stacie Friend about the meaning of “real” names in fiction-related contexts, the main topic of the Third Blasco Disputatio.