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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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Moral Responses to Fictional Characters

Moral Responses to Fictional Characters

(p.83) 4 Moral Responses to Fictional Characters
Literature and Moral Understanding

Frank Palmer

Oxford University Press

Fictional characters do not belong to the actual world. They do not join in interpersonal relationships; their actions and decisions no more aid or impair people's aims than people do theirs. With this, it becomes a question whether they lack the necessary condition of personhood, which basically involves responsibility for their actions, especially if they are just considered as mere constructions or servants to the artistic purpose of the author. Such question cannot be answered satisfactorily without considering the nature and importance of a person's interest in literature. In this chapter, several arguments are presented such as that of Colin Radford, who argues that people are intelligible and rational only in so far as they are connected with belief in the existence of their presumed objects.

Keywords:   fictional characters, actual world, interpersonal relationships, decisions, personhood, responsibility, artistic purpose, existence, Colin Radford, Michael Weston

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