a1 University of Pittsburgh.
Fiction has been of concern to both the aesthetician and the ontologist. The former is concerned with the criteria or standards by which we judge the aesthetic worth of a fictional work, the latter with whether our ontology must be enlarged to include possible or imaginary worlds in which are housed the characters and incidents referred to and depicted in such works. This is a paper on the ontology of fiction. It will attempt to answer these ontological questions concerning truth and reference in fiction by clarifying the use of language. Our paradigm case of the fictive use of language will be one in which the story-teller orally relates the fictional story in the presence of his audience, rather than one in which he inscribes his story so that it may be read at a later date. The value of considering the use of language in a face-to-face situation is that it brings before us in their full explicitness all of the different facets of a speech act, many of which often lie dormant in non-face-to-face uses and therefore are hard to discover from a consideration of such uses.