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Abstract

The challenge of handling fictional discourse is to find the best way to resolve the apparent inconsistencies in our ways of speaking about fiction. A promising approach is to take at least some such discourse to involve pretense, but does all fictional discourse involve pretense? I will argue that a better, less revisionary, solution is to take internal and fictionalizing discourse to involve pretense, while allowing that in external critical discourse, fictional names are used seriously to refer to fictional characters. I then address two objections to such realist theories of fiction: One, that they can't adequately account for the truth of singular nonexistence claims involving fictional names, and two, that accepting that there are fictional characters to which we refer is implausible or ontologically profligate.