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Monday, December 02, 2013

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>> I don't think this [my definition of 'purely fictional'] is right.

OK your objection is that I could make up a story about Napoleon but that would not make him a purely fictional character. Conceded. How about: A character is purely fictional when his or her existence is made up, as opposed to some detail about an existing character being made up. Fair enough.

>>Now let us assume that some fom of 'creationism' or 'artifactualism' is true: purely fictional objects are the mental creations of finite minds, human or not.

"purely fictional objects are the mental creations of finite minds, human or not" seems like an existential claim. This is precisely what I am disputing. There are no such things such that they are purely fictional objects, in my view. 'Sherlock Holmes is purely fictional' means 'Some book describes a character called 'Sherlock Holmes', but there was no such person'. Thus the pseudo-existential 'Sherlock Holmes is purely fictional' is consistent with 'there is no such person or object such as Sherlock Holmes'. And despite its logical form, it does not imply 'for some x, x is purely fictional'.

>>one who understands (1) may easily reject (2) by holding some other theory of fictional objects, say, a Meinongian theory according to which Sherlock Holmes and his colleagues are mind-independent nonentities.

I don't follow this at all. They would be rejecting it because (in my view) they misunderstood the meaning of 'Holmes is purely fictional'. Of course, they wouldn't see it as a disagreement about the meaning of a proposition, but that is a psychological problem for realists. They see every dispute about meaning as a dispute about something real. (Of course, realists object that nominalists make every dispute about something real into a dispute about meaning).

Ed,

You can't seem to read what's on the page. What is not right is your claim that (1) and (2) have the same meaning.

Everyone understand the meaning of (1)whatever theory they hold including your theory.

>>You can't seem to read what's on the page. What is not right is your claim that (1) and (2) have the same meaning.

I conceded that the definition I gave under (2) was not correct, in reply to your objection (as I understand it) that writing made-up things about a real person is different from writing made-up things about a made-up person. And I revised my definition. But I don't think that is your point.

>>Everyone understand the meaning of (1) whatever theory they hold including your theory.

I dispute this. If someone imagines that "Sherlock Holmes is a purely fictional character" implies that some person is such that they are a purely fictional character, that suggests they have been misled by the syntax and so misunderstands the meaning of the sentence.

>>(in the original post) It [i.e. 2] adds the controversial idea that purely fictional objects have no status whatsoever apart from the mental activities of novelists and other artistically creative persons.

No. All that is controversial is the meaning of (1), i.e. "Sherlock Holmes is a purely fictional character".

>>Some maintain that purely fictional objects are mind-created abstract objects. People who hold this do not violate the meaning of (1) [i.e. "Sherlock Holmes is a purely fictional character"].

Indeed they do, for they wrongly suppose that "Sherlock Holmes is a purely fictional character" implies "some objects are mind-created abstract objects". Mistakes about implication are generally semantic mistakes. Not always, but generally. Certainly in this case.

>>If someone imagines that "Sherlock Holmes is a purely fictional character" implies that some person is such that they are a purely fictional character, that suggests they have been misled by the syntax and so misunderstands the meaning of the sentence.<<

Why is this relevant? The question is whether (1) and (2) have exactly the same meaning. (2) is your theory. It goes beyond (1) and therefore does not have the same meaning as (1).

>>Why is this relevant?

I was objecting to your statement "Everyone understand[s] the meaning of (1) whatever theory they hold including your theory". I gave an example of people who hold theories which demonstrate their misunderstanding of (1).

>> (2) is your theory. It goes beyond (1) and therefore does not have the same meaning as (1).

And you say this because you claim that (2) “adds the controversial idea that purely fictional objects have no status whatsoever apart from the mental activities of novelists and other artistically creative persons”.

(2) does not add the idea that ‘fictional objects have no status whatsoever’. It is not denying the existence, or status of anything. Rather, it is denying that (1) implies the existence or status of anything.

If I say that A does not imply the existence B's, I am not denying the existence of B’s. Rather, I am saying that A may be true without there being any B's.

Simplifying.

(1) Fred is an imaginary character.

(2) Someone has imagined a character called ‘Fred’

are very similar in meaning (not identical, but not for any important reason IMO). Are you saying that (2) in some way goes beyond the meaning of (1) because it adds the controversial idea that purely imaginary objects have no status whatsoever apart from the mental activities of imaginative people?

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