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Intentional Heuristic

To accurately discern what does and does not happen in fictional stories, one must develop a kind of “story competence,” which Livingston describes in “What’s the Story?” Story competence relies on making judgements based on reasoning about characters’ motives and authors’ intentions. Only the latter is of concern here, which Livingston refers to as the “intentional heuristic:” a moderate form of intentionalism.The intentional heuristic is an aid used to determine which beliefs an author intended his or her audience to accept in order for the story to be understood. This differs from the rationality heuristic, which Livingston also illustrates, in that it does not only describe the causal actions of characters, but delves into the direct state of mind of the author. However, not all of the author’s beliefs should be taken into consideration when reading a story. Only those beliefs the author ‘effectively intended’ the reader to utilize are of importance (Livingston 347) .According to Livingston, “effective intentions are not necessarily conscious, nor are they a matter of an author’s future-directed musing about what he or she may eventually write” (347) . Instead, Livingston specifies, effective intentions are those that posses meaning for specific actions, and only those which offer explanation to plans or goals of the author (347) . It is not an exhaustive list of the author’s personal beliefs or biographical information that matters, but rather only those few that are imbedded into the story itself. The reader must therefore identify those beliefs the author wants him or her to adopt, and make-believe while reading and making sense of the story (Livingston 348) .Sorting through all the possible beliefs of an author may be problematic, and may also be a reason why many are exclusive readers to a certain author or specific genre....

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