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A theory of fiction needs to answer two major questions: (1) Do fictional names like 'Raskolnikov' or 'Anna Karenina' refer to something or not? Anti-realist theories deny both that the names refer and that fictional characters exist. Realists believe the names refer to fictional characters. (2) If the names refer to fictional characters, what type of entity are these? Meinongian realists believe that fictional characters are non-existent objects. Creationist realists believe that they are abstract artifacts, created by writers. In my dissertation, I discuss realist views of fictional characters. I offer a criticism of the two main contemporary realist positions and present a novel defense of realism. The alternative realist view that I develop combines advantages of both types of realist theory and avoids their mistakes. The view I propose (radical realism) holds that fictional characters exist and genuinely have most of the properties attributed to them in the stories (Hamlet is really a man, Behemoth is a devil-cat), but they also have the property of being fictional. This view accounts for many of the things we say about fictional characters, e.g. ‘Behemoth is fat,’ ‘Hamlet is one of the most famous lunatics in English literature.’ Other realist theories have a hard time with these kinds of sentences, but radical realism handles them very well, and has comparatively few disadvantages.
SubjectMetaphysics of fiction