Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Susan Haack

Second Committee Member

Eugene Clasby

Third Committee Member

Risto Hilpinen

Fourth Committee Member

Mark Migotti

Fifth Committee Member

Joanne Waugh


This dissertation attempts to answer the question, "How is truth communicated through fiction?" It begins with an analysis of theories of fiction that have been given in analytic philosophy. Then, it frames the question in terms of a response to the "war" between philosophy and poetry, represented by Plato's Socrates, who sees a variety of problems with allowing that poetry can teach ethical behavior, and Sir Philip Sidney, who believes that poetry has a great ability to teach. At the heart of the disagreement between the two is a question about the relationship between truth and the kind of communication that takes place in poetry, which is everywhere assumed rather than stated and argued for. The dissertation then continues to work toward an answer to its main question. First it looks at the theories of several continental philosophers who had things to say that hint at the direction to go in answering the question. The last two chapters are an attempt to give and support an answer to the question; imput is drawn from sources as various as Leonard Nimoy, Dorothy Sayer's "Gaudy Night," Linda Young's "Remember WENN" website, and academic literary theory; and the question is given a direct answer in the last chapter. There are three things that all fiction does that makes it communicate truth in a specific manner: all fiction attempts to engage, purports to describe the normal, and actually makes normative implications. It is because of this that fiction is the dangerous but potentially beneficial thing that Plato and Sidney respectively see it as.


Normative Implications; What Fiction Is; The War Between Philosophy And Poetry; Descrbing The Normal; Poetry