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Literature and Moral UnderstandingA Philosophical Essay on Ethics, Aesthetics, Education, and Culture$
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Frank Palmer

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198242321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242321.001.0001

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Fictional Persons and Fictional Worlds

Fictional Persons and Fictional Worlds

(p.1) 1 Fictional Persons and Fictional Worlds
Literature and Moral Understanding

Frank Palmer

Oxford University Press

Any normal reader or theatre-goer is perfectly well aware at all times that the characters depicted in novels and plays do not really exist. Yet, people refer to them by name, have conversations about them, reflect upon their plights and predicaments, and even blame or admire them for their non-existent deeds. This kind of reaction to such fictional persons has brought about a lot of philosophical debates. While it is absurd not to conceive of fictional characters as persons, it has to be explained how it is possible to refer to, to describe, or to engage in discourse, about fictional persons, given that they do not actually exist. Thus, it is perceived to be important to develop an account to rescue people from the obligation to find something in the ‘real’ world to which our statements about fictional characters must correspond.

Keywords:   fictional persons, fictional characters, fiction, reality, fictional existence, fictional worlds

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