Interpretive Context, Counterpart Theory and Fictional Realism without Contradictions

  • 1 The Australian National University


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 (wW). 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.

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