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Wykłady Jagiellońskiego Centrum Prawo-Język-Filozofia

Data: 26.01.2023
Czas rozpoczęcia: 17.45
Miejsce: sala 28
Organizator: Jagiellońskie Centrum Prawo-Język-Filozofia
Witryna internetowa wydarzenia:

Jagiellońskie Centrum Badawcze Prawo-Język-Filozofia wraz z Instytutem Filozofii oraz Katedrą Teorii Prawa WPiA zapraszają na wykład prof. Zsofii Zvolenszky z Eötvös University (Budapeszt), p.t. “Debates about fictional characters as human-created, non-concrete objects: Focusing on some frame-related assumptions"

Wykład odbędzie się w czwartek 26 stycznia 2023 r. o godzinie 17.45 w sali 28 (Grodzka 52) oraz online. Link do połaczenia online zostanie podany na stronie Centrum:


In scientific debates (as in discourse more broadly, including public discourse), participants have a tendency to focus attention on what claims are made, and not on how those claims are made. The “how” impacts and is impacted by the invoked discussion frame (in the cognitive linguist George Lakoff’s sense), which is characterized by a multitude of factors that include (i) the choice of labels used, (ii) background taxonomical assumptions, and (iii) other assumptions. I will call (i)-(iii) frame-components. Such frame-components can have a major and lasting influence on the process of scientific inquiry without their role discussed – or even recognized – in the debates that tend to focus on the claims rather than the frames. Meanwhile, an ill-fitting or superseded frame-component can thus stall and hinder debates when its tenability is not even subjected to discussion let alone criticism. 

How have such frame-component-related hurdles arisen in debates about the metaphysics of fictional characters? What lessons can we learn from them on how to conduct those debates more effectively in moving forward? I will discuss two interconnected case-studies in debates about artifactualism (a form of realism) about fictional characters: that they are human-created, non-concrete objects. This is a view I have been defending against anti-realist objections in past papers. 

First, fictional characters as artifacts are customarily called 'abstract’ rather than ’non-concrete’. What is at stake in using the second (my preferred) label rather than the first one? What taxonomical and other assumptions have been invoked by the ’abstract’ label, thereby stalling debates about artifactualism? What can we glean, learn from reflecting on these frame-components, from revising/replacing them? I will argue that taxonomical assumptions associated with the abstract/concrete distinction have had a far-reaching hindering impact on how philosophers have thought about fictional characters as artifacts, and, more broadly, on how they have thought about the nature of social, cultural artifacts like songs, symphonies, poems, words, games, laws, legal institutions. Proponents of artifactualism, as a form of realism about such entities, can respond far more effectively to anti-realist challenges once hitherto entrenched frame-components are brought to light, examined and revised as needed. 

Second, I will explore the phenomenon of inadvertently created fictional characters. In past papers, I argued that an artifactualist about fictional characters can accept, even welcome fictional characters occasionally being inadvertently created by their authors. I will highlight some frame-components: assumptions that anti-realists have relied on in their arguments according to which such inadvertent creation phenomena are problematic. I give reasons for rejecting these frame-components.

These two interconnected case studies about debates concerning the metaphysics of fictional characters present counterexamples to a proposal of Elisabeth Camp (“Perspectives and Frames in Pursuit of Ultimate Understanding” 2019) who holds that a chosen frame’s role diminishes, disappears in later stages of inquiry; as details are understood, theories transcend initially introduced frames as being oversimplified. In fact, I argue, we see ill-fitting frame-components’ – label choices’, taxonomical and other assumptions’ – lasting influence unless we subject those very frame-components to systematic discussion and theorizing.