Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another false View

I talked about a view in my last post that is certainly false. Here is another view that I have been thinking about, which is also certainly false. Let's suppose, as per the true, that counterpart theory is false and that individuals are in multiple possible worlds. This seems to cause problems for Lewis' account of truth in fiction because his account best fits with counterpart theory and descriptivisim about names.

Here is a view though. Suppose that 'Alyosha' is in fact empty. But there are worlds in which people speak something very much like english except that when they utter the sentences of The Brothers Karamozov they express truths and the symbol 'Alyosha' is a name that refers. However, there are lots of such worlds. There are worlds where 'Alyosha' is used as a name for one guy and worlds where it is used as a name for some other guy. Given transworld identity, it looks like we cannot appeal to some of these worlds when giving an account of truth in fiction without being arbitrary. We might appeal to them all and supervaluate in some sense. But another thing that we can do is pretend that any the individual, x, such that the symbol 'Alyosha' is used as a name for x in one world and any individual, y, such that the symbol 'Alyosha' is used as a name for y in another world are identical.

I know this theory is not worked out. But, I am wondering about necessary connections that might be noted between things that people commonly take to be true in a fiction and what various accounts say would be true in a fiction.


Blogger Chris Tillman said...

I know the view is not worked out, but I don't think it's even worked out enough for me to understand how it's supposed to work. Maybe part of the problem is that I think that considering worlds in which something that sounds just like some actual story is told and it is true is completely irrelevant to actual fictional discourse. If what's told is not *that story* then it should have no more to do with actual fictional discourse than worlds in which people use a language that sounds just like English to talk about very different things than what we use English to talk about has to do with any bit of actual English discourse. Which is none. And arguably fictional stories have certain features that prevent the very same story being told in worlds where it is non-accidentally true.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

I understand the complaint. But I think that you are being a little uncharitable toward the view. The languages of these other worlds have more in common with English than that they sound just like English. These other languages are extensions of English. The only difference is that where English has non-referring names like 'Alyosha', these languages have referring ones.

It is certainly true that in the correct circumstances (during fictional discourse or whatever) we act as if sentences like 'Alyosha is a Russian monk' express truths (or at the very least sentences like 'According to BK, Alyosha is a Russian monk'). Moreover, there is this connection between English and the Other worldy languages: We act as if 'Alyosha is a monk' expresses a truth in English iff 'Alyosha is a monk' expresses a truth in the other worldly langauges. This, coupled with the fact that the other worldy languages are extensions of English seems like an interesting result.

Maybe this correlation results simply from the plenitude of possiblities and for that reason is uninteresting. But I'm not sure.

And also the theory isn't worked out at all and I'm afraid that it might not be worth the effort.

5:48 PM  

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