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Reference, Truth, And Fiction

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Chapter Summary

One of the oldest problems in philosophy is also one of the most debated topics in the philosophy of language today. For the philosophers who think that negative existential propositions are puzzling, the intuition about referring is this: Proper names need to hook on to or to attach to something in the world in order to be meaningful. The problem of existentials for proper names would not exist if those names had no meaning. As regards fictional names, they would not exist if there were no short stories, novels, myths, and the like. To have short stories, novels, and myths, is to have stretches of discourse that the speech community accepts. True negative existentials presuppose a more or less substantial body of discourse that indicates what is true about the things that do not exist. The intelligibility of fiction depends on most of the statements of fiction being true.

Keywords: fictional names; negative existential propositions; philosophy of language; reference; speech community; truth



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