So, since I am auditing these courses and I do not have to do any work for them I figured I would instead keep track of what is going on here…any comments are welcome.
Russell’s Argument Against Existence as a Predicate
In the lecture’s on Logical Atomism Russell says, in response to a question, that the problem with treating existence as a property is that it then couldn’t fail to apply, and this is characteristic of a mistake. Kripke argued that we can eaisly define the existence predicate as ‘(Ey)(y=x)’ which can fail to apply. Russell must have been thinking of (x)Ey(y=x) which just says ‘everything exists’, but this isn’t a predicate…
Kripke on Fiction
Kripke takes fictional characters to exist as abstract objects. So ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is a name for an abstract fictional object. These abstract objects are not supposed to be thought of as some shadowy things (“no abstract object ever lived on Baker Street”) but, as he puts it, “exist in virtue of the story”. We can ask all kinds of empirical questions about these abstract objects, like ‘which fictional character is most written about by literary critics?’ etc.
In the story it is assumed that whatever conventions for naming are, they have been met. So fiction cannot be evidence for or against ANY semantic theory of names.
In the story existence claims are true. ‘Sherlock Holmes exists’ is true in the story ‘considered as actual’ in just the same way as ‘Kripke exists’ is true here in the actual world (because we assume that in the story we assume that whatever the right theory how names get their reference is met). But when evaluated outside of the story the sentence, though still true, is not true in the same sense. It does not pick out a person who was detective and who lived on Baker street, it picks out a certain fictional abstract object…is Kripke a two-dimensionalist with respect to fiction? Sounds like it to me….
These abstract objects can be vauge, depending on the story. So take the ghost that Hamlet sees. Suppose the story had been written so that it was unclear whether that ghost was real (in the story) or a hallucination. Then it would be the case that (metaphyscially, not epistemically) it would be undertermined what kind of abstract object the ghost was. Or to take an example more to my liking, take Pan’s Laberynth (SPOILER ALERT); we never really find out whether Pan and the other-worldly stuff is real or not. So the status of those fictional character’s is indeterminate…
The ‘fictional’ operator iterates. So there can be fictional fictional characters. An example of this is the Play that is put in in MacBeth…or one more to my tastes, Itchy and Scratchy from the Simpsons. They are fictional fictional characters.
When I asked if he thought that fictions were mini-worlds, he said no because some stories deliberately contain contradictions, whereas possible worlds don’t. When I asked if he thought possible worlds were fictions, he said no. But I don’t see why not. He claims that possible worlds are abstract objects, fictional worlds are abstract objects…when I pressed him on this he said ‘there is some connection’…I am interested to see how this will play out…It seems to me that the possible worlds should be a subset of the fictional worlds