Organon F

Volume 29, August 2022, Issue 3, Pages 290–326

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

Research Article

An Inferentialist Account of Fictional Names

Byeong D. Lee


The goal of this paper is to present and defend an inferentialist account of the meaning of fictional names on the basis of Sellars-Brandom’s inferentialist semantics and a Brandomian anaphoric theory of reference. On this inferentialist account, the meaning of a fictional name is constituted by the relevant language norms which provide the correctness conditions for its use. In addition, the Brandomian anaphoric theory of reference allows us to understand reference in terms of anaphoric word-word relations, rather than substantial word-world relations. In this paper I argue that this inferentialist account has many important merits over its rival theories. One important merit is that it explains why we can use fictional names to make true statements, even if they lack bearers. As a consequence, this theory allows us to use fictional names without committing ourselves to an implausible ontology of fictional entities. Another important merit is that it provides a uniform semantic account of fictional names across different types of statements in which fictional names are involved.


Fictional names; inferentialist semantics; the anaphoric theory of reference; Sellars; Brandom.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Byeong D. Lee


Sungkyunkwan University


Department of Philosophy, 25-2, Sungkyunkwan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea


About this article


2 July 2021


12 October 2021


1 April 2022

Published online

24 September 2022


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Lee, B. D. (2022). An Inferentialist Account of Fictional Names. Organon F29(3), 290–326.


Lee, Byeong D. 2022. "An Inferentialist Account of Fictional Names." Organon F 29 (3): 290–326.


Lee, B. D. (2022). An Inferentialist Account of Fictional Names. Organon F, 29(3), pp. 290–326.

Copyright information

© Byeong D. Lee

Response page

The above URL is linked to 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.