Title: Standing in the last ditch: on the communicative intentions of fiction-makers
Publication: Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72: 351–363
Abstract: Some of us have suggested that what fiction makers do is offer us things to imagine, that this is what is distinctive of fiction and what distinguishes it from narrative-based but assertive activities such as journalism or history. Some of us hold, further, that it is the maker’s intention which confers fictional status. Many, I think, feel the intuitive appeal of this idea at the same time as they sense looming problems for any proposal about fiction’s nature based straightforwardly on the identification of fiction with the to-be-imagined. I formulate a very weak version of the proposal which is not vulnerable to some objections recently presented. My formulation is in terms of supervenience. But while this version is weak, it is also quite precise, and its precision brings into view certain other problems which have not so far been attended to. To the extent that these problems are serious, the prospects for an intentional theory of fiction look, I am sorry to say, poor; the version susceptible to the objections is weak, and anything weaker still but not so susceptible could hardly be thought of as a theory of fiction, though it might supplement such a theory.