Logic and Language


Fred Kroon (Auckland): Kripke’s Reference and Existence and the problem of surrogate fictional objects.


Speaker: Fred Kroon (Auckland)
Title: Kripke’s Reference and Existence and the problem of surrogate fictional objects.
Date:
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: ILLC Seminar Room F1.15

Kripke’s 1973 John Locke lectures, published by OUP in 2013 as Reference and Existence, defended a number of novel theses, among them a pretence account of the language used by authors and consumers of fiction, and an ontology of abstract fictional and mythical characters.  But Kripke doesn’t extend this ontology to include surrogate fictional objects: special objects referred to by real names occurring in fiction.  After describing the way our talk about Desdemona, for example, shows how language “supplies a referent” in the case of such sentences as ‘Some critics admire Desdemona’, he writes that “a referent, of course, need not be supplied if the work of fiction … is about ordinary entities.”  If, to use his example, we admire Napoleon as he is portrayed in a certain story, it is Napoleon we are admiring, not a fictional surrogate for Napoleon.  Such an anti-surrogacy view is now standard in the broadly realist literature on fiction (eg, among modal and other Meinongians). In this talk I discuss problems for Kripke’s account, and motivate an alternative account that takes the idea of surrogate fictional objects more seriously but without falling into some kind of fictional realism about such surrogates.