The diversity of fiction and copredication: An accommodation problem

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The paper presents an accommodation problem for extant semantic accounts of fiction. Some accounts of fiction are designed to accommodate one or another form of fictive statement exclusively, what I shall call in-fiction (roughly, statements made within fiction) and out-fiction (roughly, statements relating fictional things and events to extra-fictional things and events). Thus, typically, the accounts fail to do justice to their respective excluded form. A natural response, entertained by Kripke (Reference and existence. The John Locke lectures. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013) and in a different fashion by latter-day Meinongians, is to let the two different kinds of fiction have their respective accounts. It is very easy, however, to mix in and out predicates, which amounts to a species of copredication, where a single nominal receives simultaneous distinct interpretations relative to distinct predicates without creating ambiguity (Bond is a killer but remains as popular as ever). Copredication is a perfectly general phenomenon that arises for any nominal (The meal was delicious, but lasted all day/Bill read then burnt every book/Brazil is at last happy after the civil unrest). The simple problem now is that copredication appears to render all extant accounts of fiction either (1) essentially partial, in dealing with one kind of simple form of fiction but not another, or (2) merely wrong in imagining that fiction comes in categorically distinct forms, for the coherence of copredication is enough to show that this is not so. The aim of the paper is to show to resolve this accommodation problem by the radical expedient of suggesting that the fiction/non-fiction distinction is not really a semantic one, but more one between different ways in which sentences are made true or false.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197–1223
Number of pages27
Issue number5
Early online date12 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

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