Make Believe

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Peter Lamarque

Belief, Make-Believe and the Opacity of Narrative


The paper will explore two ideas: that belief formation is as important in responses to fiction as make-believe or imagining; and that fictional narratives are ‘opaque’ in the sense that their content is essentially given, and thus constituted, ‘under a description’. The two ideas are related through the notion of a ‘fictional world’. Fictional worlds are tied to the narratives that present them; the narratives do not so much report the worlds as construct them. Acquiring beliefs about these worlds thus involves a double intensionality: the familiar intensionality of all belief or propositional attitude contexts and the additional intensionality of a narrative’s constructed content.


Peter Lamarque is professor of philosophy at the University of York, Great Britain. He joined the Department of Philosophy in 2000. Prior to his position at York, he was Ferens Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hull and Head of the Philosophy Department between 1995 and 2000. He was a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University of Stirling between 1972 and 1995 and From 1995 to 2008 he was Editor of the British Journal of Aesthetics. He is member of editorial boards of British Journal of Aesthetics, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, Cuadernos de música, artes visuales y artes escénicas. He has published widely in aesthetics and the philosophy of literature, recently The Philosophy of Literature (Blackwell, 2008), and a book on the metaphysics of art, Work and Object (Oxford UP, 2010). He is currently working on papers on film and emotion, Scruton’s aesthetics, Wittgenstein and literature, and Gérard Genette’s ontology of art.