“Kripke’s Reference and Existence and the problem of surrogate fictional objects’ by Fred Kroon

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. (In the typescript of the original John Locke lectures, but not the book, he made an exception for phrases like ‘the Napoleon of the story’.) In this talk I discuss problems for Kripke’s account, and motivate an alternative account that takes surrogate fictional objects more seriously (without falling into some kind of fictional realism).

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Friday, 04 Sep 2015
Time: 10am – 12pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Fred Kroon, University of Auckland
Moderator: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Photo of Fred KroonFred Kroon is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. His main research areas are formal and philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and metaphysics, and he has authored papers in these and other areas for a range of journals, including the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The Philosophical Review, The Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, and Noûs. His current research is mainly focused on fictionalism, the theory of reference, and the philosophy of fiction. He is on the editorial board of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy and is a subject editor for 20th century philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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