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John Woods Alirio Rosales

Unifying the Fictional


ISBN: 978-3-88405-517-5

Price: €22.00 (including 19 % tax)


Abstract

The question in this paper is whether there is a concept of fiction instantiated by both literary and scientific fictions. If the answer were in the affirmative, this would license the “conceptual unification” thesis. Whereupon a further question: Is there a satisfactory theory of this unifying concept? If it, too, collected an affirmative answer, we would have the “theoretical unification” thesis. By “theory”, what is meant here is a semantic theory, a theory of reference, truth and inference for fictional discourse. A third question now falls out: Could this general theory be a nontrivial adaptation of a theory of literary fictions? This we could call the “literary unification” thesis. Our answers, albeit somewhat provisionally, are in the negative. If there is a theory of the general concept, there is no satisfactory literary theory whose nontrivial adoption it could be. (So the literary unification thesis is false.) This being so, the theoretical unification theory is also false. A grand theory of fictions in general that couldn’t contain as a subtheory a satisfactory theory of literary fictions could not, in turn, be a unifying theory in the requisite sense. This leaves us with the conceptual unification thesis. It is true or false. If false, that’s the end of the matter. If true, the general concept of fiction lacks the possibility of a satisfactory theory. Hence it leaves philosophical semantics with no prospect of honest work.

About the Authors

Alirio Rosales is a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, where he is also affiliated with the Biodiversity Research Centre. After 15 years of postgraduate research and undergraduate teaching at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, and after completing an MA in philosophy of science, he opted for PhD-studies overseas. He works on different aspects of the philosophy and history of scientific models, with an emphasis on idealization and on explanation. His primary scientific interests are population genetics and evolutionary ecology. Other involvements include philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, the philosophy of mathematics, Kant, and the history of analytic philosophy and philosophy of science.

John Woods is Director of The Abductive Systems Group at the University of British Columbia, and the Charles S. Peirce Visiting Professor of Logic in the Group on Logic, Information and Computation at King’s College London. Woods’ work on fiction arises from his 1969 paper, “Fictionality and the Logic of Relations”, and is developed further in The Logic of Fiction (Mouton, 1974), re-issued in 2009 with a Foreword by Nicholas Griffin. His new book on fiction, Sherlock’s Member: New Perspectives on the Semantics of Fiction, is scheduled to appear in late 2010 or early 2011. Also in preparation is Seductions and Shortcuts: Error in the Cognitive Economy. Woods is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Gold Medal, and President Emeritus of the University of Lethbridge. Further information can be found on his website at www.johnwoods.ca. He may also be contacted at jhwoods@interchange.ubc.ca.




 





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