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Res Philosophica


published on October 29, 2015

David Sanson
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2016.93.2.8

Frivolous Fictions

We want to say both that Sherlock Holmes does not exist, and that he is a fictional character. But how can we say these things without committing ourselves to the existence of Sherlock Holmes? Here I develop and defend a non-commital paraphrase of quantification over fictional characters, modeled on the non-commital paraphrase Kit Fine provides for quantification over possibilia. I also develop and defend the view that names for fictional characters are weakly non-referring, in Nathan Salmon’s sense, and so provide us with a non-commital means to express singular propositions. The resulting position allows us to reap the benefits of Fictional Realism without paying the associated ontological cost.