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SAF: Catharine Abell on The Interpretation of Fiction

The Scottish Aesthetics Forum is delighted to present:

Dr Catharine Abell (Manchester)
“The Interpretation of Fiction”
Friday, 18th March, 2016, 4:00 – 5:30pm
Room 3.11, Dugald Stewart Building
University of Edinburgh

The lecture is free and open to all!

Abstract: “There are two views of the nature of fictive utterances in the existing literature. According to Searle and others, fictive utterances involve the overt pretense of performing ordinary illocutionary acts, such as assertions. According to Currie, Stock and Davies, they consist in a distinctive kind of illocutionary act, characterised by a communicative intention to elicit imaginings in an audience. I argue against both these views on epistemological grounds. Neither, I argue, is able to explain the fact that readers are, by and large, able to identify the contents of authors’ fictive utterances because both views are unable to accommodate the role of context in interpretation. I defend an alternative view according to which fictive utterances are declarations, illocutionary acts which are distinctive in effecting changes to the status of their objects simply in virtue of their successful performance. I argue that it follows from this view that we should be anti-intentionalists about the contents of fictive utterances. Although authors may competently and intentionally exploit them, conventions, rather than authors’ intentions, determine the contents of the utterances by which works of fiction are produced.”

About the speaker: Dr Catharine Abell is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Manchester. Her research interests span the philosophy of art and the philosophy of language, and issues at their intersection, including the nature of art and fiction, pictorial representation, expression in art, and style and genre and their effect on the interpretation and evaluation of representational artworks. Dr Abell has published widely on all of the aforementioned topics both in journals and edited volumes, and has co-edited a volume on depiction entitled Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction (Oxford 2010). Currently, she is also co-investigator on the AHRC project Knowledge of Emotion, which enquires into how we can know the emotional states of others.

Additional information: The lecture will be followed by a dinner with our speaker. If you would like to attend the dinner, please inform the organisers by Monday, 14th March.
*There are limited funds to cover dinner expenses for two students, offered on a first-come-first-served basis.*

To contact the organisers: scottishaestheticsforum@gmail.com.
For more information, please visit: www.saf.ppls.ed.ac.uk
Or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/scottishaestheticsforum

SAF is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics and the Scots Philosophical Association.