Organon F

Volume 28, February 2021, Issue 1, Pages 44–59

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article | Special issue on Names and Fictions

Fictional Names: Reference, Definiteness and Ontology

Mark Sainsbury


Definite linguistic expressions, for example proper names and singular and plural pronouns, are easy to introduce. Indefinite expressions may pave the way, but are not essential. It is also not essential that there be entities to which the successfully introduced definites refer. This is the underlying fact that makes fiction possible, and it gives guidance about fictional names: we have no need in general to suppose that there exist entities to which they refer.


Fiction, discourse representation theory, ontology.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Mark Sainsbury 


University of Texas at Austin


Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, 2210 Speedway, Stop C3500 WAG 316, Austin, Texas 78712-1737


About this article


26 February 2020


18 June 2020

Published online

28 February 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Sainsbury, M. (2021). Fictional Names: Reference, Definiteness and Ontology. Organon F28(1), 44–59.


Sainsbury, Mark. 2021. "Fictional Names: Reference, Definiteness and Ontology." Organon F 28 (1): 44–59.


Sainsbury, M.  (2021). Fictional Names: Reference, Definiteness and Ontology. Organon F, 28(1), pp. 44–59.

Copyright information

© Mark Sainsbury

Response page 

The above URL is linked with the article's response page. The response page is a permanent location that is associated with the article's DOI number.

This article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Klemensova 19
813 64 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
(+421 2) 5292 1215
FAX (+421 2) 5292 1215

Organon F takes part on the long-term preservation of the digital cultural heritage carried out by the University Library in Bratislava.