Philosophy Research Seminar - John Collins (UEA) - The Null Hypothesis for the Semantics of Fiction

15 November 2018, 2.00 PM - 15 November 2018, 3.30 PM

John Collins (UEA)

Cotham House, G2


The talk will propose and defend the null hypothesis for the semantics of fiction, viz., there is no difference between fiction and non-fiction from a narrowly semantic perspective. Thus, fiction does not presuppose or entail any bespoke semantic machinery or novel ontology. The null hypothesis has previously been championed, notably by Russell and Quine. In their hands, however, all sentences involving fictional terms as proper constituents ought to be false, which is false. This makes tempting one of the competitor accounts of fiction. I shall show, though,  that these are unable to accommodate the full range of fictional discourse, especially copredicational cases that mix in and out fictional predicates. Thus, I shall commend a revamped null hypothesis that allows for true and false fiction and is able to accommodate the full range of fiction. 

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