Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 9, pp 2167–2186 | Cite as

Fiction cannot be true

  • László KajtárEmail author


According to the dominant theory of intentionalism, fiction and non-fiction are in a “mix-and-match” relationship with truth and falsity: both fiction and nonfiction can be either true or false. Intentionalists hold that fiction is a property of a narrative that is intended to elicit not belief but imagination or make-belief in virtue of the audience’s recognizing that such is the intention of the fiction-maker. They claim that in unlikely circumstances these fictions can turn out to be accidentally true. On the contrary, I argue in this paper that fictionality and truth are incompatible. I distinguish narratives based on whether they contain invented characters or not, and offer respective sets of arguments to the effect that there is no case when a fiction is accidentally true. A narrative is either fiction or accidentally true but not both.


Fiction Narrative Reference Truth 



For helpful comments, I would like to thank Hanoch Ben-Yami, Greg Currie, Peter Lamarque, Derek Matravers and David Weberman, as well as an anonymous reviewer for the journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary

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