, Volume 191, Issue 3, pp 499–516 | Cite as

Towards a semantics for the artifactual theory of fiction and beyond

  • Matthieu Fontaine
  • Shahid RahmanEmail author


In her book Fiction and Metaphysics (1999) Amie Thomasson, influenced by the work of Roman Ingarden, develops a phenomenological approach to fictional entities in order to explain how non-fictional entities can be referred to intrafictionally and transfictionally, for example in the context of literary interpretation. As our starting point we take Thomasson’s realist theory of literary fictional objects, according to which such objects actually exist, albeit as abstract and artifactual entities. Thomasson’s approach relies heavily on the notion of ontological dependence, but its precise semantics has not yet been developed. Moreover, the modal approach to the notion of ontological dependence underlying the Artifactual Theory has recently been contested by several scholars. The main aims of this paper are (i) to develop a semantic approach to the notion of ontological dependence in the context of the Artifactual Theory of fiction, and in so doing bridge a number of philosophical and logical gaps; (ii) to generalize Thomasson’s categorial theory of ontological dependence by reconstructing ontological categories of entities purely in terms of different structures of ontological dependence, rather than in terms of the basic kinds of entities the categorical entities depend on.


Artifactual theory Ontological dependence Fiction Non-existence 



The authors are indebted to Tero Tulenheimo for his valuable input during the initial stages of writing, to two anonymous referees for crucial remarks and to Gareth Wilson and Cheryl Lobb de Rahman for linguistic and stylistic corrections.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sciences Humaines, Lettres et Arts, CNRS-UMR 8163:STL, Université de Lille3 Villeneuve d’AscqFrance

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