Institut Jean Nicod

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Catharine Abell (University of Manchester)

Vendredi 8 juin 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d’Ulm 75005. Salle de réunion, RDC

"Fictive Utterances as Declarations"

What kind of speech act is involved in producing works of fiction ? Previous responses to this question claim either that it is a sui generis illocutionary act characterised by a communicative intention to elicit imaginings, or that producing fictions involves pretending to perform ordinary illocutionary acts such as assertions, rather than actually performing any illocutionary act. In contrast, I argue that producing fiction involves making declarations : illocutionary acts that are distinctive in their ability to effect changes in the status of their objects simply in virtue of their successful performance. I focus on two consequences of this account. Firstly, readers identify the contents of fictive utterances by appeal to rules, rather than to authors’ intentions. I argue that this account of interpretation solves an epistemological problem to which rival accounts succumb. Secondly, authors’ fictive utterances can create fictional entities in much the way that the act of marrying creates marriages. I argue that this provides an account of the nature of fictional entities with distinct advantages over rival accounts.