Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2020-21, Session 5

Against the Pretense View of Fiction
Manuel García-Carpintero (University of Barcelona / LOGOS / LanCog)

30 October 2020, 16:00 | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: In his classic paper “The Logical Status of Fictional Discourse” (1974/5), John Searle argued that fictions don’t result from dedicated, sui generis acts (or, in to me equivalent terms, are not dedicated, sui generis artefacts) in the way assertions, questions or directives are; they are just pretenses of acts like those – the view had been defended earlier by Margaret MacDonald (1954) and Richard Gale (1971). Searle’s arguments were seriously challenged by Currie and Walton, proponents of different versions of the dedicated artefact view in their respective very influential 1990 books. In recent work, Peter Alward and Stefano Predelli have argued for a more sophisticated version of a Searlian view. In this paper I’ll confront their arguments, in defense of (my own version of) the dedicated artefact view. I’ll elaborate in my own terms on two decisive objections, not adequately acknowledged by either Currie or Walton: first, that the Searlian view is implausibly committed to there being fictional narrators in all fictions; second, that the view has implausible commitments on how referential expressions work in fictional discourse, implying that (as van Inwagen and Kripke put it in work in the 1970s) fictional utterances including them “don’t express propositions”.

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