Mini-Course: Truth and Reference in Fiction
Manuel Garcia-Carpintero (Universidade de Barcelona, LOGOS Group)
14, 21 e 28 de Maio de 2010, 16:00
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)
More than fifty years ago, Quine brought back the de re/de dicto distinction that Medieval Philosophers had already made to the attention of the philosophical community. Through its impact on the debate confronting direct vs. descriptivist accounts of reference started by Barcan Marcus, Donnellan, Kaplan and of course Saul Kripke in the following decade, the nature of de re or singular thoughts became one of the leading concerns of contemporary philosophers. As perhaps we should expect, in spite of extended discussion we are far from having a generally accepted philosophical account; some philosophers defend more or less strict version of "acquaintance" accounts, on which an epistemic condition is placed on the posibility of singular thoughts, while others defend "acquaintanceless" or "latitudinarian" views, on which pure descriptive access to the res may suffice. In this mini-course, I will examine the impact on the matter of the semantics of fictional discourse. I will discuss the behaviour of intuitively empty and non-empty referential expressions, proper names, indexicals, and definite descriptions, mostly in two specific and related sort of cases: the use of those expressions by the creator of a fiction, while putting forward the speech acts which, I will argue, are constitutive of that activity; and critical discourse of fictions aimed at getting their contents right. The issue of the nature of reference in those discourses is intimately related with the issue of the nature of "truth in fiction": whether or not 'London', as used in Orwell's "1984" refers to the actual city (in the same way it does when we use it in making assertions about the UK capital) is intimately related with the issue whether we need to invoke truths about London in determining what is "true" in Orwel''s fiction, and also with the issue whether we can derive actual truths about the UK capital from what is "true" in Orwell's fiction. The ultimate point of my discussion for the more general question of the nature of singular thought is to argue that those cases provide indirect evidence supporting an epistemic account of those thoughts.