Workshop on Fiction - Abstracts

Workshop on Fiction

Barcelona, 20-21 May 2013.


Gemma Celestino (Barcelona): Elided Fictional Descriptions

In this talk I will argue for the thesis that when fictional names such as ‘Anna Karenina’ are used, fictional descriptions such as ‘the fictional suffering woman’ are often elided. This thesis belongs to the Descriptivist account of fictional discourse that I like, which is different from the traditional Descriptivist views of fictional terms defended by Gregory Currie and David Lewis.

Amanda Garcia (Geneva): Fiction, Nonfiction, and Constraints on Creation

In the past decades, the concept of fiction has been understood with the help of the notion of imagination. Kendall Walton (1990), for example, considers fictional works as having the function to prescribe imaginings. While focusing on authorial intentions, Gregory Currie (1990) also grants a crucial place to the notion of imagination in his explanation of the nature of fiction. He is one of several authors who define fiction in terms of fictive intent (the authorial intention that the audience adopts the make-believe attitude towards the work) and some further criterion. David Davies (2005), notably, understands fiction as what was created with a fictive intent, without following the fidelity constraint. While the author of nonfiction must take actual events to be a constraint on the content and the ordering of his work, this is not the case of the author of fiction. While these theories are widely accepted, they have recently come under criticism. Stacie Friend (2008), for example, attacks the very idea of providing necessary and sufficient criteria for fictionality. As for Kathleen Stock (2011), she rises to the challenge posed by Friend, while arguing that the additional criteria proposed by Currie and Davies are superfluous. My aim is to try to formulate a theory that can escape the criticisms that Stacie Friend and Kathleen Stock have made of the theories of fiction in terms of fictive intent.  I draw on Davies' idea of the importance of constraints on creation for the fictional or nonfictional status of works. I explore the idea that fiction could be understood not only as what is not subject to the fidelity constraint, but also as what is constrained by internal coherence. I try to show the advantages of such a theory and to address potential problems, such as the existence of genres of fiction that seem essentially incoherent (for example absurdist fictions).

Manuel Garcia-Carpintero (Barcelona): Reference in Fiction?

In recent work, Stacie Friend has highlighted a problem of "co-identification" involving fictional names such as 'Hamlet' or 'Odysseus': the problem to explain judgments that different uses of these names are "about the same object", on the assumption of irrealism about fictional characters, on which such expressions do not refer. She contrasts a Kripke-inspired "name-centric" approach to dealing with the problem, pursued among others by Sainsbury, with an Evans-inspired "info-centric" approach, which she prefers. Part of the setting-the-stage picture is her rejection of descriptivist ways of dealing with her problem. In my talk, I'll outline the presuppositional, reference-fixing form of descriptivism I favor for the semantics of names, and I'll explain how it helps us deal with Friend's problem; as I'll show, the result is a form of the "name-centric" sort of approach that Friend rejects, which can (I'll argue) be defended from her criticism.

Graham Priest (CUNY): Much Ado About Nothing

The point of this paper is to bring together three topics: non-existent objects, mereology, and nothing(ness). There are important inter-connections, which it is my aim to spell out, in the service of an account of the last of these.

Kathleen Stock (Sussex): The nature of fiction - Why be generic when you can be imaginative?

In this paper I will be examining some competing theories of fiction: three which place emphasis on the alleged fact that imagining prescribes imagining (Currie, Davies, Stock) and one that denies that prescribing imagining is an essential feature of fiction (Friend). Friend argues instead that fiction should be understood as a genre with no necessary or sufficient conditions. After locating these views in relation to one another, I will offer some reasons to reject Friend's account in favour of the former kind of account; and to reject Currie's and Davies' in favour of my own variant of it.

Kendall Walton (Michigan): Fiction and Communication

Works of fiction sometimes serve as vehicles of communication. But only sometimes. Too many accounts of fiction introduce notions of communication too early and give fiction makers’ communicative intentions, Gricean intentions, for instance, a more central place than they deserve. Consideration especially of pictorial fictions and photographs show that treating communication as just one of various purposes fiction may serve, albeit often an extremely important one, will make for a more fundamental and illuminating theory of fiction.