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Trang Ho - PHIL 347 Paper 2

Trang Ho - PHIL 347 Paper 2 - Trang Ho Philosophy 347...

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Trang Ho Philosophy 347 Paper #2 03-31-11 The Best Response is No Response, or the Invalidity of Dracula’s Nonexistence In this paper I will answer the objection to the existence of fictional characters as artifacts posed by the scenario wherein someone confronts the theorists who posits fictional objects as artifacts, with the question of whether it is not perfectly rational to comfort their friend who is scared to death that Dracula is going to suck their blood, that Dracula does not exist, thereby alleviating their fears. There are a variety of responses available to the artifact theorist: She may respond that, as an artifact, Dracula qualifies as a past object, and therefore cannot hurt her in the present. She may respond that Dracula exists in a different possible world than the world in which she exists. She may say that Dracula is imaginary. Or she may respond that it is invalid to say that Dracula does not exist. Of these responses, it seems like the lattermost is the best option, for it is the response that requires no change in the theory. I will examine these three responses, and give reasons for why the artifact theorist ought to prefer the third response to the other three. Let us consider the first response: that Dracula is a past object. In that case statements that we make about Dracula such as, “Dracula attacks people in the night” will certainly fail to be frightening to anyone living in the present, for Dracula is in the past, and a past object cannot affect any present objects directly. It may even feel much more technically correct to say that Dracula “does not exist”, though the theorist might say that he does exist, but only as a past object, which cannot harm her friend. 1
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The problem here is that we are no longer properly representing the artifact theorist’s view. A very large part of the artifact theorist’s view is to say that fictional characters have present existence, a real existence, an affective existence in the present, and also that such fictional characters could be lost by the loss of all literary works, and copies of literary works, containing that character. The theorist certainly wants Dracula to be an affective character, or else he would be a very poor character indeed. Even supposing we must comfort someone as to the possibility of Dracula sucking their blood shows that Dracula must be some present object which affected the frightened person. To have such affective power it looks like a fictional character better have present existence. Certainly then the artifact theorist does not want to go down this particular route, for it strips not only the theory of something essential, but also moves us into a less coherent ontology. The response here may be that it is simply not true that past objects cannot affect present objects (or subjects as the case may be). For when we learn of a historical figure, say Julius Caeser, and some past event, say the stabbing of Caesar by his closest friends, that we are affected by the tale. Similarly, in general, historical figures, which we must
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Trang Ho - PHIL 347 Paper 2 - Trang Ho Philosophy 347...

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