Fictional Objects within the Theory of Mental Files: Problems and Prospects

Zoltán Vecsey


A recent version of the mental file framework argues that the antirealist theory of fictional objects can be reconciled with the claim that fictional utterances involving character names express propositions that are true in the real world. This hybrid view rests on the following three claims: (i) character names lack referents but express a mode of presentation, (ii) fictional utterances introduce oblique contexts where character names refer to their modes of presentation, and (iii) modes of presentation are mental files. In this critical paper, I will argue that the proposed view runs into a number of theory-internal problems. These problems arise partly from the unclarities inherent in the notion of mental file, and partly from a mistaken semantics for character names. I will also argue that adherents of fictional realism can make use of the notion of mental file without encountering similar difficulties.



Antirealism; Fictional Objects; Mental Files; Character Names; Reference; Representation

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia. Registration number of the journal in the Register of Periodical Publications of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic: EV173/23/EPP.

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