Fictional Sentences and the Pragmatic Defence of Direct Reference Theories


According to Adams and his colleagues, fictional sentences, i.e. sentences featuring fictional names, lack any truth value. To explain intuitions to the contrary, they refer to the pragmatics of fictional assertions and claim that sincere utterances of those sentences generate some conversational implicatures. They argue that all who take fictional sentences to have a truth value tend to mistake implicatures of assertions of such sentences with their literal content. The aim of the paper is to show that this argument is not convincing. The challenge being that it doesn’t provide any satisfactory explanation as to what is negated in seemingly genuine disagreement cases in which fictional sentences are asserted. Sentential negation usually doesn’t affect (i.e. negate) a proposition which is conversationally implied, especially when it comes to the manner implicature. And, as I argue, an advocate of the pragmatic defence should maintain that this is the kind of conversational implicature that the assertion of fictional sentences generates.

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