Senate Room, Senate House
Institute of Philosophy/London Aesthetics Forum

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The aim of this one-day work-shop is to bring together four philosophers who have been engaged in a significant debate over the nature of fiction over the last several years.

The most popular theory of fiction today, both within aesthetics and in other philosophical domains, is the ‘fictive utterance’ account (inspired by Walton’s account of fiction/representational art in terms of prescriptions of imagine). According to the ‘fictive utterance’ theory, first articulated in detail by Gregory Currie in The Nature of Fiction (1990), fictionality turns essentially on the author’s intention to invite imagining.

In publications in 1996 and 2001, David Davies developed a distinctive version of the same view, and in a 2008 paper Stacie Friend criticized both Currie and Davies, arguing that the invitation to imagine provides neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for fictionality. Kathleen Stock then defended a version of the fictive utterance theory designed to avoid Friend’s objections, to which Friend replied, in a Joint Session plenary symposium (2011). Since then Friend has proposed an alternative approach to fiction (2012); Stock and Davies have written papers (as yet unpublished) responding to Friend’s criticisms among others; and Currie has reconsidered the relationship between fiction and imagining.

In this workshop these authors will present their most recent positions.


  • 10.00-11.00. Stacie Friend (Heythrop College, University of London) – ‘Defining fiction without imagination’
  • 11.00-11.30. Coffee/tea (provided)
  • 11.30-12.30. David Davies (McGill University) – ‘Fictive utterance, fictional works, and fictional narratives’
  • 12.30-2.00. Lunch (own arrangements)
  • 2.00-3.00. Kathleen Stock (University of Sussex) – ‘The nature of fiction: Why be generic when you can be imaginative?’
  • 3.00-3.30. Coffee/tea (provided)
  • 3.30-4.30. Gregory Currie (University of Nottingham) – Fiction, imagination, supervenience
  • 4.30-5.30 – Panel Discussion

The British Society of Aesthetics has generously provided funding for this event.