Philosophical Studies

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 139–146 | Cite as

Fictional objects, non-existence, and the principle of characterization

Article

Abstract

I advance an objection to Graham Priest’s account of fictional entities as nonexistent objects. According to Priest, fictional characters do not have, in our world, the properties they are represented as having; for example, the property of being a bank clerk is possessed by Joseph K. not in our world but in other worlds. Priest claims that, in this way, his theory can include an unrestricted principle of characterization for objects. Now, some representational properties attributed to fictional characters, a kind of fictional entities, involve a crucial reference to the world in which they are supposed to be instantiated. I argue that these representational properties are problematic for Priest’s theory and that he cannot accept an unrestricted version of the principle of characterization. Thus, while not refuting Priest’s theory, I show that it is no better off than other Meinongian theories.

Keywords

Fictional objects Non-existence Principle of characterization Graham priest Noneism Fiction Possible worlds 

References

  1. Areces, C., & ten Cate, B. (2007). Hybrid logics. In P. Blackburn, J. van Benthem, & F. Wolter (Eds.), Handbook of modal logic. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  2. Parsons, T. (1980). Nonexistent objects. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Priest, G. (2005). Towards non-being. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Proudfoot, D. (2006). Possible worlds semantics and fiction. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 35, 9–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Sainsbury, M. (2010). Fiction and fictionalism. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Van Inwagen, P. (1977). Creatures of fiction. American Philosophical Quarterly, 14, 299–308.Google Scholar
  7. Walton, K. (1990). Mimesis as make-believe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

Personalised recommendations