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    Introduction to Metaphysics

    Alexander Bird

    What are Fictions?

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    if a declarative statement of subject-predicate form is true,

    then the object denoted by the subject satisfies the predicate

    nQueen Victoria is a woman

    satisfies is a woman

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    et

    Sherlock Holmes is a detective

    Sherlock Homes is a man

    Sherlock Holmes lives at 221B BakerStreet

    true

    er

    Sherlock Holmes is a window cleaner

    Sherlock Holmes is a woman

    Sherlock Holmes lives in Slough

    false

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    eSherlock Holmes is a detective

    predicates is a detective of . . . .Sherlock Holmes?

    if a declarative statement of subject-predicate form is true,

    then the object denoted by the subject satisfies the predicate

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    satisfies is a detective

    eSherlock Holmes is a detective

    if a declarative statement of subject-predicate form is true,

    then the object denoted by the subject satisfies the predicate

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    What is the truthmaker for fictional sentences?

    which features of the world makes it true

    that Sherlock Holmes is a detective?

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    eSherlock Holmes is a detective

    true logical form

    veIn fiction, Sherlock Holmes is a detective

    e)F(Sherlock Holmes is a detective)

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    )F(Sherlock Holmes is a detective)

    F

    . .According to [established or contextually salient] fiction . . . .

    )F(Conan Doyles Sherlock Homes stories)(Moriarty is a criminal mastermind)

    F )F(Ancient Greek mythology)(Pegasus is a flying horse)

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    F

    . .According to [established or contextually salient] fiction . . . .

    F(p) is not the same as In fiction it is written thatp

    because works of fiction draw upon a background of actual facts

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    F )F(Sherlock Holmes lives within three miles of TrafalgarSquare)

    is true but not explicitly stated; it is required for

    understanding the work of fiction

    but not allactual truths can be included in F

    (e.g. we dont want to include the fact that no detectivehas actually ever lived at 221B BakerStreet)

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    FX(p)

    In the nearest possible world where

    (most of) the fictional writings X are true,

    p

    the possible world view of fictions

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    what about:

    Sherlock Holmes does not exist

    Sherlock Holmes was admired by many readers,

    who did not know he was fictional

    question

    ?when does a sentence involve a hidden F operator?

    answer?

    rwhen a sentence mentions a fictional character

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    Alexius Meinong

    different degrees of existence

    Some non-existence objects nonetheless subsist

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    what are possible worlds?

    are they real?

    yes says David Lewis

    no says almost everyone else

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    Fictionalism

    fictional entities

    non-actual possible objectspossible worlds

    abstract objects

    treat as fictions

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    "There is a (non-actual) possible world at which

    there are blue swans

    "There is a brilliant detective at 221b Baker

    Street"

    Gideon Rosen: should be treated alike

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    what things can be fictions?

    There are aliens on Earth

    Most of your friends are aliens

    We can travel faster than light

    We can travel in time

    2+2=5

    Its okay to torture innocent children but wicked to feed the poor

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    There is a (non-actual) possible world at which there are blue swans

    true logical form

    FPW(There is a (non-actual) possible world at which there are blue swans)

    FPW(p) = according to the fiction of possible worlds,p

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    FX(p)

    In the nearest possible world where

    (most of) the fictional writings X are true,

    p

    FSH(Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict)

    In the nearest possible world where

    SH stories are true, Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict

    Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict

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    In the nearest possible world where

    SH stories are true, Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict

    FPW(in the nearest possible world where

    SH stories are true, Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict)

    FX(p)

    In the nearest possible world where

    (most of) the fictional writings X are true,

    p

    In the nearest possible world where the fiction of possible worlds

    is true, in the nearest possible world where SH stories are true,

    Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict

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    In the nearest possible world where the fiction of possible worlds

    is true, in the nearest possible world where SH stories are true,

    Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict

    FPW(In the nearest possible world where the fiction of possible

    worlds is true, in the nearest possible world where SH stories

    are true, Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict)

    In the nearest possible world where the fiction of

    possible worlds is true (in the nearest possible world

    where the fiction of possible worlds is true, in thenearest possible world where SH stories are true,

    Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict)

    . . . . infiniteregress . . .

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    fictions

    analysed in terms of . . .

    possible worlds

    analysed in terms of . . .

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    further reading

    http://www.seop.leeds.ac.uk/entries/fictionalism-modal/