According to what has long been the dominant school of thought in analytic meta-ontology––defended not only by W. V. O. Quine, but also by Bertrand Russell, Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, and many others––the meaning of ‘there is’ is identical to the meaning of ‘there exists.’ The most (in)famous aberration from this view is advanced by Alexius Meinong, whose ontological picture has endured extensive criticism (and borderline abuse) from several subscribers to the majority view. Meinong denies the identity of being (...) and existence. That is, he denies that ‘there is’ and ‘there exists’ are semantically equivalent, and espouses a theory according to which there are things that do not exist. Here I defend a revised version of this view, which I call “Noncontradictory Neo-Meinongianism.” Focusing primarily on van Inwagen’s arguments in “Meta-Ontology” (1998), I argue that Noncontradictory Neo-Meinongianism is, on commonsensical grounds, preferable to the meta-ontological theories of van Inwagen and Meinong. (shrink)
[Draft substantially revised, September 2021] David Lewis acclimated us to talk of “nonactual concreta that exist,” regarding talking donkeys and the like. I shall argue that this was not for the best, and try to normalize a way of describing them as “actual concreta that do not exist.” The basis of this is a defense of the Meinongian thesis “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects,” re: fictitious and illusory objects. I first formulate (...) the problem of negative existentials in a novel way, and discuss why this new version is more forceful against anti-Meinongians. Additional data is also pressed against anti-Meinongians--e.g., the truth of ‘Pegasus is imaginary’, and a reading of ‘There actually are illusory objects’ where it comes out true. The Meinongian, in contrast, easily and uniformly explains the same data, by allowing the existence Pegasus, pink elephants, and the like. But contra Meinong, these cases suggest that the nonexistent objects are mind-dependent objects, and I clarify and defend this suggestion from several objections. The resulting Meinongianism is thus “conservative” in that it merely acknowledges the sense in which there are mind-dependent objects, imaginary and illusory objects being prime examples. Of special note, the “ideology” is conservative as well in that the typical Meinongian jargon of “nuclear” or “encoded” properties is paraphrased away. New suggestions about the ontology of abstracta, mere possibilia, and impossibilia are sketched in light of this. Comparisons are also made with Thomasson, Crane, and McGinn, among others. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that platonism with respect to a discourse of metaphysical interest, such as fictional or mathematical discourse, affords a better account of the semantic appearances than nominalism, other things being equal. Of course, other things may not be equal. For example, platonism is supposed to come at the cost of a plausible epistemology and ontology. But the hedged claim is often treated as a background assumption. It is motivated by the intuitively stronger one that the platonist can (...) take the semantic appearances at ‘face-value’ while the nominalist must resort to ad hoc and technically problematic machinery in order to explain those appearances away. In this article, I argue that, on any natural construal of ‘face-value’, the platonist, like the nominalist, is not able to take the semantic appearances at face-value. And insofar as the nominalist is forced to resort to ad hoc and technically awkward devices in order to explain those appearances away, the platonist must resort to such devices as well. One moral of the story is that the thesis that platonism affords a better account of the semantic appearances than nominalism – even other things being equal – is not trivial. Another is that we should rethink a widespread methodology in metaphysics. (shrink)
This paper delves into Jody Azzouni's ideas on the ontology of fictional characters. Azzouni interestingly maintains that even though fictional characters like Hermione Granger, Sherlock Holmes, and Mickey Mouse do not exist in reality, assertions about them can still be true. However, Azzouni dismisses the necessity of these characters to be ontologically real to validate the truth of sentences concerning them. Instead, Azzouni proposes that truth in speech and thought corresponds with the world, but not necessarily by attributing properties and (...) relations to tangible things in it. This stance opposes the conventional philosophical notion that every true statement must directly represent an aspect of reality. This paper scrutinizes Azzouni’s argument and appreciates his attempt to dissociate ontology from the truth in fictional discourse. Nonetheless, it also recognizes certain gaps in this perspective. The paper endeavors to refine and extend Azzouni's approach by introducing the concept of 'metaphysical explanation', which explains the truth of statements about fictional characters by correlating them to relevant acts of fiction, rather than positing the reality of fictional entities. This extension preserves the essence of Azzouni’s view while addressing its limitations, thus paving the way for a more comprehensive understanding of how we can talk truly about fictional characters without holding that such entities are real in any sense. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviewed by:Nonexistent Objects in Buddhist Philosophy: On Knowing What There Is Not by Zhihua YaoChong Fu (bio)Nonexistent Objects in Buddhist Philosophy: On Knowing What There Is Not. By Zhihua Yao. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. Pp. 186. Hardcover £29.99, isbn 978-1-35-012148-5. Nonexistent Objects in Buddhist Philosophy: On Knowing What There Is Not, by Zhihua Yao, cogently strings together different Buddhist schools' varied philosophical approaches to the cognition of nonexistent objects (...) (asadālambanajñāna) or non-cognition (anupalabdhi). Non-being and the knowledge of non-being have long been central to nearly every philosophical tradition. Buddhist philosophy, in particular, invests extraordinary intellectual effort to deal with these topics, since non-being (asat/abhāva) occupies a central role in the Buddhist doctrine. Yao acutely reconstructs a brief history of this philosophical enterprise of Buddhism from the early sectarian period to the time when the so-called logico-epistemological school prevailed. The book consists of an introduction and eight chapters. These eight chapters are basically based on Yao's previously published articles. They are further arranged into two parts: (1) "Cognition of Nonexistent Objects: A Historical Development" and (2) "Epistemological Approaches to Nonexistence." The first part discusses how philosophers from the Mahāsāṃghika, the Dārṣṭāntika, and the Yogācāra analyze the cognition of nonexistent objects. The philosophical development concerning this particular topic is masterfully articulated by Yao. This mastery is best shown in his unveiling of Yogācāra's philosophical inheritance from its Abhidharma legacy. In addition, his reconstruction deepens our understanding of the intricate history of sectarian Buddhism in a broader sense. The second part centers on the philosophical issues of nonexistence raised by the Buddhist logico-epistemological school. Yao's translation, presentation, and comparison of these philosophical arguments is strikingly lucid and comprehensive. Overall, one salient contribution of this book is that it highlights the importance of Pāli and Chinese sources in studying the history of Buddhist philosophy, especially Indian Buddhist philosophy. In Part 1, Yao's reconstruction of sectarian Buddhist philosophies is heavily based on the Pāli text Kathāvatthu and the Chinese translations of Samayabhedoparacanacakra, Śāriputrābhidharma, Vijñānakāya, Mahāvibhāṣā, *Janakaparamopadeśa, and Nyāyānusāra, whose Sanskrit or Prakrit originals have long been lost. In part 2, in [End Page 1] addition to comprehensively assessing Sanskrit and Tibetan materials, Yao detects a much-hidden philosophical development from Īśvarasena to Dharmakīrti by relying on Chinese commentaries composed by Chinese and Korean monks in the Tang Dynasty. Chapter 1 is of the most importance in the book; in it, Yao traces "an early origin of the concept of the cognition of nonexistent objects among the Mahāsaṃghikas and some Vibhajyavādins under their influence" (p. 13). Yao sensitively points out that "the thesis that latent defilements (Pāli: anusaya/Skt: anuśaya) have no objects constitutes the first step toward the formation of the concept of the cognition of nonexistent objects" (p. 19). The next step, as Yao analyzes it, is the proposition of awareness (Pāli: ñāṇa/Skt: jñāna) without objects due to the Mahāsaṃghikas and its sub-schools. Yao's philosophical reconstruction is eloquent and perceptive, especially when he outlines a crucial conceptual transition from the awareness that is without objects (anālambanaṃ jñānam) to the awareness that has nonexistent objects as its objects (asadālambanajñāna). However, one of the main supporting materials that he believes mentions the awareness that has nonexistent objects as its objects -- a passage from the Śāriputrābhidharma -- might be found less supportive without a more detailed justification. This passage is concerned with the concept of wu jingjie zhi 無境界智:What is the awareness without objects (wu jingjie zhi 無境界智)? There is no awareness without objects. Or, the awareness that arises when conceptualizing the past and the future dharmas is called the awareness without objects.1《舍利弗阿毘曇論》卷 9〈4 智品〉：「云何無境界智？無無境界智。復次思惟過 去未來法智生，是名無境界智。」(CBETA 2022.Q4, T28, no. 1548, p. 593c16–18)。Yao chooses an alternative reading based solely on the Taisho Edition, which interpolates one more 境 in 無無境界智 as 無境無境界智. This reading might result in a wholly different meaning: "What is awareness without objects? Any awareness that... (shrink)
Several philosophers including Kripke have contended that fictional entities do exist as abstract objects, and fictional names refer to such abstract entities. Kripke and Thomasson compare fictional entities to existing social entities. Kripke also reflects on fictions inside fictions to support his view. Many philosophers appeal to the apparent fact that we quantify over fictional entities. Such arguments in favor of the existence of fictional entities are critically scrutinized. It is argued that they are much less compelling than their proponents (...) suggest and involve various obscurities. (shrink)
I develop ontological pluralism about non-being, the view that there are multiple ways, kinds, or modes of non-being. I suggest that the view is both more plausible and defensible than it first seems, and that it has many useful applications across a wide variety of metaphysical and explanatory problems. After drawing out the relationship between pluralism about being and pluralism about non-being, I discuss quantificational strategies for the pluralist about non-being. I examine historical precedent for the view. Finally, I suggest (...) that pluralism about non-being has explanatory power across a variety of domains, and that the view can account for differences between nonexistent past and future times, between omissions and absences, and between different kinds of fictional objects. (shrink)
What exists at the fundamental level of reality? On the standard picture, the fundamental reality contains (among other things) fundamental matter, such as particles, fields, or even the quantum state. Non-fundamental facts are explained by facts about fundamental matter, at least in part. In this paper, I introduce a non-standard picture called the "cosmic void” in which the universe is devoid of any fundamental material ontology. Facts about tables and chairs are recovered from a special kind of laws that satisfy (...) strong determinism. All non-fundamental facts are completely explained by nomic facts. I discuss a concrete example of this picture in a strongly deterministic version of the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics. I discuss some philosophical and scientific challenges to this view, as well as some connections to ontological nihilism. (shrink)
This paper presents a sequent calculus and a dual domain semantics for a theory of definite descriptions in which these expressions are formalised in the context of complete sentences by a binary quantifier I. I forms a formula from two formulas. Ix[F, G] means ‘The F is G’. This approach has the advantage of incorporating scope distinctions directly into the notation. Cut elimination is proved for a system of classical positive free logic with I and it is shown to be (...) sound and complete for the semantics. The system has a number of novel features and is briefly compared to the usual approach of formalising ‘the F ’ by a term forming operator. It does not coincide with Hintikka’s and Lambert’s preferred theories, but the divergence is well-motivated and attractive. (shrink)
The problem of intentional inexistence arises because the following (alleged) intuitions are mutually conflicting: it seems that sometimes we think about things that do not exist; it seems that intentionality is a relation between a thinker and what such a thinker thinks about; it seems that relations entail the existence of what they relate. In this paper, I argue for what I call a radical relationist solution. First, I contend that the extant arguments for the view that relations entail the (...) existence of their relata are wanting. In this regard, I defend a kind of pluralism about relations according to which more than one kind of relation involves non-existents. Second, I contend that there are reasons to maintain that all thoughts are relations between thinkers and the things they are about. More accurately, I contend that the radical relationist solution is to be preferred to both the intentional content solution (as developed by Crane) and the adverbial property solution (as developed by Kriegel). Finally, I argue that once the distinction between thinking “X” and thinking about X has been drawn, the radical relationist solution can handle issues like ontological commitment, substitutivity failure, scrutability, and non-specificity. (shrink)
I shall elaborate in this article on the connection between ficta and metaontological pluralism, i.e., the view according to which there are irreducibly many dependence relations. More precisely, I shall consider the main tenets of an artifactualist theory of ficta and show how they can be expressed from the standpoint of a pluralist theory of dependence that accepts irreducibly many Respect-of-Dependence relations (in short, RD-relations). In Section 2, I shall introduce the artifactualist theory at stake and, in Section 3, I (...) shall recall my theory of RD-relations. In Section 4, I shall show how ficta identity-depend, origin-depend and sustenance-depend on further entities. In Section 5, I shall anticipate and solve three problems. In Section 6, I shall briefly compare my account with other accounts. Finally, in Section 7, I shall draw some conclusions. (shrink)
How can Buddhists prove that non-existent things do not exist? With great difficulty. For the Buddhist, this is not a laughing matter as they are largely global error theorists and, thus, many things are non-existent. The difficulty gets compounded as the Buddhist and their opponent, the non-Buddhist of various kinds, both agree that one cannot prove a thesis whose subject is non-existent. In this paper, I will first present a difficulty that Buddhist philosophers have faced in proving that what they (...) take to be non-existent does not exist. I will then survey two main solutions that they have provided. Those 'solutions' may not solve the problem or solve the problem but creates other problems. I will not survey the Buddhist treatment of the problem of proving about non-existence in order to present a new solution that we have yet to see. Instead, I will articulate a problem about non-existence that is unique to Buddhist philosophers. I will do so in order to present an interesting puzzle about non-existence that has largely escaped attention in the 'Western' literature. (shrink)
This thesis argues that we should consider extended modal realism as a new player in the debate about non-existence. The primary aim is to show that extended modal realism is a viable theory when it comes to solving problems of non-existence. At times I will argue that extended modal realism has advantages over Lewisian modal realism when it comes to examining the problems of non-existence, not only in the case of problems relating to thought but also problems concerning truth as (...) well. However, I do not intend for the proposed advantages of extended modal realism to be presented as knockdown arguments against other strategies. -/- Not only do I argue that extended modal realism is viable when it comes to solving these problems, but I also make adjustments and additions to the theory that supports the conclusion of this thesis, and I argue that these are improvements to the modal realist theory. I include arguments for a new theory of existence that removes the need for the extended modal realist to rely on set-theoretic notations to understand existence, which I consider problematic. I argue for the revival of the Lewis-Rosen proposal for truth-making and a semantic instrumentalist theory of thought, both of which naturally accompany extended modal realism. Throughout this thesis, I will comment on the proposals and strategies of other authors, and some of these comments will be critical. At this very early stage, I want to clarify that this thesis's success does not rest on showing that all other competitor theories fail. I only include critical comments to situate extended modal realism within the landscape of viable positions that are available for one to occupy. (shrink)
The paper attempts to conciliate the important distinction between what-is, or exists, and what-is-not _thereby supporting Russell’s existential analysis_ with some Meinongian insights. For this purpose, it surveys the varied inhabitants of the realm of ‘non-being’ and tries to clarify their diverse statuses. The position that results makes it possible to rescue them back in surprising but non-threatening form, leaving our ontology safe from contradiction.
Modal Meinongianism provides the semantics of sentences involving intentional verbs Priest. To that end, Modal Meinongianism employs a pointed non-normal quantified modal logic model. Like earlier Meinongian views Modal Meinongianism has a characterisation principle, that claims that any condition whatsoever is satisfied by some object in some world. Recently, Everett has proposed an argument against QCP that, if successful, gives rise to problems identical to those Russell raised for Naïve Meinongianism, namely that it allows for true contradictions, and allows us (...) to define anything into existence. Everett claims that the ordinary meanings of “actual” license an inference pattern, such that if an object satisfies Actual A at some world, then that object satisfies A in the actual world. Given that actual world is the designated point of evaluation for truth simpliciter, QCP would fall prey to Russell’s criticisms. As opposed to Everett, I argue that, even if we grant Everett the assumption that “actual” is a modal indexical that rigidly refers to the actual world, it does not conform to the inference pattern above. This is because when an object satisfies Actual A at some world, this alters the assertoric force of “actual”, because “actual” is interpreted in the scope of some modal or intentional operator. I also explain that Everett’s proposed example carries existential commitment because the problematic noun-phrase occurs outside the scope of a modal or intentional operator. (shrink)
This paper will focus on a philosophically significant construction whose semantics brings together two important notions in Kit Fine’s philosophy, the notion of truthmaking and the notion of a variable embodiment, or its extension, namely what I call a ‘variable object’. This is the construction of definite NPs like 'the number of people that can fit into the bus', 'the book John needs to write', and 'the gifted mathematician John claims to be'. Such NPs are analysed as standing for variable (...) objects, which are part of the 'shallow', construction-driven ontology of natural language, yet are real. (shrink)
Contingent negative existentials give rise to a notorious paradox. I formulate a version in terms of metaphysical grounding: nonexistence can't be fundamental, but nothing can ground it. I then argue for a new kind of solution, expanding on work by Kit Fine. The key idea is that negative existentials are contingently zero-grounded – that is to say, they are grounded, but not by anything, and only in the right conditions. If this is correct, it follows that grounding cannot be an (...) internal relation, and that no complete account of reality can be purely fundamental. (shrink)
This paper aspires to meet a philosophical challenge posed to the author to give treatment to what was seen as a particularly nice Meinongian case1; namely the case of Galician Meigas. However, through the playful footpaths of enchanted Galician Meigas, I rehabilitate some relevant discussion on the justification of belief formation and come to some poignant philosophical insights regarding the understanding of possibilities. I hope both the leading promoter of the challenge and, of course, other philosophical readers are satisfied with (...) the outcome. (shrink)
Kriegel described the problem of intentional inexistence as one of the ‘perennial problems of philosophy’, 307–340, 2007: 307). In the same paper, Kriegel alluded to a modal realist solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. However, Kriegel does not state by name who defends the kind of modal realist solution he has in mind. Kriegel also points out that even what he believes to be the strongest version of modal realism does not pass the ‘principle of representation’ and thus modal (...) realism is not an adequate solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. In this paper, I respond to Kriegel by defending a modal realist solution that he did not consider in 2007, called ‘extended modal realism’. EMR is a version of modal realism where possible worlds are not completely isolated as they are under the Lewisian model. Rather, under EMR worlds are, in a way, spatiotemporally related. The fact EMR worlds are related allows EMR to sufficiently pass the principle of representation and thus can be deemed a legitimate solution to the problem of intentional inexistence. I conclude that either EMR can pass the principle of representation in some cases or, and I think the more sensible option, we give up on the principle of representation altogether. (shrink)
In this essay, we reconsider two themes particularly discussed by the interpreters of Ockham: that of divine omnipotence and the hypothesis of the intuitive cognition of non-existent things. The purpose is to show that the hypothetical case considered by Ockham was subjected to opposite interpretations. For theological reasons, Ockham attributes not only to God but also to human beings the possibility of having acts of intuitive cognition of things that do not exist; nonetheless, he holds that it is contradictory for (...) God to give us the evident cognition of things that appear to be present when they are actually absent. Walter Chatton opposes this conclusion, arguing that no contradiction ensues from that hypothesis. Instead, he believes that it is impossible for God to give us the intuition of things that absolutely do not exist or are in no way present to us. Ockham’s arguments include some difficulties that Chatton acutely sees and discusses. In particular, Chatton calls into question Ockham’s missed distinction between the existence and the presence of the intuited thing. (shrink)
Are there nonexistent objects, i.e., objects that do not exist? Some examples often cited are: Zeus, Pegasus, Sherlock Holmes, Vulcan (the hypothetical planet postulated by the 19th century astronomer Le Verrier), the perpetual motion machine, the golden mountain, the fountain of youth, the round square, etc. Some important philosophers have thought that the very concept of a nonexistent object is contradictory (Hume) or logically ill-formed (Kant, Frege), while others (Leibniz, Meinong, the Russell of Principles of Mathematics) have embraced it wholeheartedly. (...) This entry is an examination of the many questions which arise in connection with the view that there are nonexistent objects. The following are particularly salient: What reasons are there (if any) for thinking that there are nonexistent objects? If there are nonexistent objects, then what kind of objects are they? How can they be characterized? Is it possible to provide a consistent theory of nonexistent objects? What is the explanatory force of a consistent theory of nonexistent objects (if such a thing is possible)? (shrink)
In this first volume of The Sylvan Jungle, the editors present a scholarly edition of the first chapter, "Exploring Meinong's Jungle," of Richard Routley's 1000-plus page book, Exploring Meinong's Jungle and Beyond. Going against the Quinean orthodoxy, Routley’s aim was to support Meinong’s idea that we can truthfully refer to non-existent and even impossible objects, like Superman, unicorns and the (infamous) round-square cupola on Berkeley College. The tools of non-classical logic at Routley’s disposal enabled him to update Meinong’s project for (...) a new generation. -/- This volume begins with an Introduction from Dominic Hyde, “The ‘Jungle Book’ in Context,” an essay that situates Exploring Meinong’s Jungle and Beyond historically. We provide the original Preface by Routley, followed by Chapter 1: “Exploring Meinong’s Jungle and Beyond.” In Chapter 2, Nicholas Griffin argues that Sylvan’s project was insufficiently radical with his essay, “Why the Original Theory of Items Didn’t (Quite) Go Far Enough.” Sylvan revisits his position from this time in Chapter 3, with his article, “Re-Exploring Item-Theory.” Filippo Casati, who has worked in the Routley Archives then takes up the question of the future of Sylvan’s research program in his essay, “The Future Perfect of Exploring Meinong’s Jungle.” -/- Iconic and iconoclastic Australian philosopher Richard Routley (né Sylvan) published Exploring Meinong’s Jungle and Beyond in 1980. This work has fallen out of print, yet without great fanfare it has influenced two generations of philosophers and logicians. (shrink)
This paper examines Husserl’s theory of intentionality as it is developed in Logical Investigations and other early writings. In Section 1, the author attempts to capture the core of Husserl’s concept of intentionality. Section 2 is devoted to a detailed analysis of the account of intentional relation developed in the fifth Investigation. In Section 3, the author tries to flesh out what is meant by the claim in the sixth Investigation that the designation ‘object’ is a relative one. In Section (...) 4, the author discusses Husserl’s conception of intentionality in light of the mereology outlined in the third Investigation. In Section 5, the author explains how Husserl criticizes the so-called theory of immanent objects and how he addresses the problem of non-existents. In Section 6, the author argues that a phenomenological theory of intentionality grounded in Husserl’s insights cannot be a non-relational one. (shrink)
Indeterminacy in its various forms has been the focus of a great deal of philosophical attention in recent years. Much of this discussion has focused on the status of vague predicates such as ‘tall’, ‘bald’, and ‘heap’. It is determinately the case that a seven-foot person is tall and that a five-foot person is not tall. However, it seems difficult to pick out any determinate height at which someone becomes tall. How best to account for this phenomenon is, of course, (...) a controversial matter. For example, some (such as Sorensen (2001) and Williamson (2002)) maintain that there is a precise height at which someone becomes tall and such apparent cases of indeterminacy merely reflects our ignorance of this fact. Others maintain that there is some genuine – and not merely epistemic – indeterminacy present is such cases and offer various accounts of how best to account for it. Supervaluationists (such as Keefe (2008)), for example, claim that the indeterminacy with respect to vague terms lies in their not having a single definite extension. Rather, each term is associated with a range of possible precise extensions or precisifications such that it is semantically unsettled which is the correct extension. One precisification of ‘tall’ might allow that anyone over five feet ten inches is tall, whereas another would only allow those over six foot to qualify; but no precisification will take someone who is five foot to be tall, and someone who is seven foot will count as tall on all precisifications. Thus – while someone who is seven foot will be determinately tall and someone who is five foot determinately not so – it will be indeterminate whether someone who stands at five foot eleven inches is tall. -/- Yet, it is important to stress that putative cases of indeterminacy are not limited to vague predicates of this kind. Philosophers have invoked indeterminacy in discussions of topics as diverse as moral responsibility (Bernstein (forthcoming)), identity over time (Williams (2014)), and the status of the future (Barnes and Cameron (2009)). In this paper, we focus on two areas where discussion of various kinds of indeterminacy has been commonplace: physics and fiction. We propose a new model for understanding indeterminacy across these domains and argue that it has some notable advantages when compared to earlier accounts. Treating physics and fiction cases univocally also indicates an interesting connection between indeterminacy in these two areas. (shrink)
In my “Creatures of Fiction, Objects of Myth” (2014), I present and defend an argument for thinking that mythical creationism—the view that mythical objects like phlogiston and Vulcan are abstract artifacts—is false. One intriguing sort of objection to my argument has been recently put forth by Zvolenszky (2016); she claims that a crucial premise is seen to be unjustified once one considers the phenomena of inadvertently created abstracta—specifically, inadvertently created fictional characters. I argue here that even if we admit inadvertently (...) created abstracta into our ontology, my argument survives. I ultimately defend a view on which fictional characters (if real) may be countenanced as created abstracta whether purposefully created or not, yet mythical objects are best taken to be discoverable, Platonic abstracta (if real). We can see that such a hybrid ontology is justified once we take proper note of the nature of the sorts of authorial activities involved in fictional storytelling and scientific hypothesizing. (shrink)
Modal Meinongianism is a form of Meinongianism whose main supporters are Graham Priest and Francesco Berto. The main idea of modal Meinongianism is to restrict the logical deviance of Meinongian non-existent objects to impossible worlds and thus prevent it from “contaminating” the actual world: the round square is round and not round, but not in the actual world, only in an impossible world. In the actual world, supposedly, no contradiction is true. I will show that Priest’s semantics, as originally formulated (...) in Towards Non-being, tell us something different. According to certain models, there are true contradictions in the actual world. Berto and Priest have noticed this unexpected consequence and have suggested a solution, but I will show that their solution is highly questionable. In the last section of this paper, I will introduce a new and simpler version of modal Meinongianism that avoids the problem. (shrink)
In this article I shall present a Meinong-inspired theory of fictional objects. This theory is based on two ideas: fictional objects are mental objects, i.e., they depend for their identity conditions on minded subjects thinking of them; they bear properties in two different ways, i.e., by instantiating properties and by having properties “ascribed” to them. In my perspective, ascription relations hold (at least) between an object, a property and a minded subject. After having presented some data about fictional discourse, I (...) shall defend the thesis that fictional objects are mental objects. Afterwards, I shall introduce ascription relations and I shall outline in detail my theory and a comprehensive ontology of fiction. Finally, I shall define the identity conditions of fictional objects, I shall deal with the aforementioned data and I shall summarize the advantages of my theory over rival theories of fictional objects. (shrink)
I shall defend in this paper the thesis that, if there are irreducible powers such as the power to produce a certain object (generative powers), then there are objects that do not exist and they are part of the fundamental level of the universe. Thus, generative powers come together with Meinongianism. After having clarified my argument, I shall examine and criticize Armstrong (1997)’s attempt to reduce powers to other sorts of entities. Finally, I shall deal with five accounts of generative (...) powers that are somehow alternative to Meinongianism and with some (more general) miscellaneous concerns about the truth of this doctrine. (shrink)
Can we believe that there are non-existent entities without commitment to the Meinongian metaphysics? This paper argues we can. What leads us from quantification over non-existent beings to Meinongianism is a general metaphysical assumption about reality at large, and not merely quantification over the non-existent. Broadly speaking, the assumption is that every being we talk about must have a real definition. It’s this assumption that drives us to enquire into the nature of beings like Pegasus, and what our relationship as (...) thinkers is to them. However, I argue this assumption only holds if you think your language, and in particular that aspect of it to do with referring to entities works in a specific way. This is the specific way generally assumed by the discipline called ‘Semantics’. I sketch out an alternative, call it global expressivism, in which talk of referring is given an expressivist, speech-act theoretic treatment. If we accept that our talk of the non-existent works as the global expressivist tells us it does, then the question of the metaphysical nature of non-existent entities is utterly void. You might say that Pegasus is empty of any metaphysical nature. Since the non-existent lacks any metaphysical nature, the metaphysics of the non-existent, Meinongianism, as a form of inquiry, lacks a subject matter, despite the fact that we talk happily, and indeed unavoidably, of the non-existent. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that Priest's modal Meinongianism might benefit from joining forces with two-dimensionalism. For this purpose, I propose a two-dimensional solution to a problem for modal Meinongianism that is posed by Beall, Sauchelli, and Milne, and show that, by taking recourse to two-dimensionalism, divergent intuitions about the question of whether fictional characters might exist can be reconciled. Moreover, two-dimensionalism helps to rebut Kroon's argument to the conclusion that modal Meinongianism cannot rule out the odd (...) claim that some non-existent objects have existence-entailing properties at the actual world. (shrink)
Aristotle explains existence through postulating essences that are intrinsic and percep- tion independent. I argue that his theory is more plausible than Hume’s and Russell’s theories of existence. Russell modifies Hume’s theory because he wants to allow for the existence of mathematical objects. However, Russell’s theory facilitates a problematic collapse of ontology into epistemology, which has become a feature of much analytic philosophy. This collapse obscures the nature of truth. Aristotle is to be praised for starting with a clear account (...) of ordinary objects rather than immediately reifying mathematical objects. He thus allows us to have a coherent account of existence and truth, and to easily resist collapsing ontology into epistemology. (shrink)
How is it that, as fiction readers, we are nonplussed by J. K. Rowling's prescription to imagine Ronan, Bane, and Magorian, three different centaurs of the Forbidden Forrest at Hogwarts? It is usually held in the philosophical literature on fictional discourse that singular imaginings of fictional objects are impossible, given the blatant nonexistence of such objects. In this paper, I have a dual purpose: on the one hand, to show that, without being committed to Meinongeanism, we can explain the phenomenon (...) of singular imaginings of different nonexistents of the same kind; while, at the same time, to attribute this position to Thomas Reid, thus correcting some misunderstandings of his view on imagination. (shrink)
Critical notice assessing the use of information theory in the attempt to build a design inference, and to re-establish some aspects of the program of natural theology, as carried out in this third major monograph devoted to the subject of intelligent design theory by mathematician and philosopher William A. Dembski, after The Design Inference (1998) and No Free Lunch (2002).
Tim Crane's The Objects of Thought is, I think, a much needed corrective to standard ways that analytic philosophers think about nonexistence. It starts from our common sense thought and talk, and tries to carve out a position that can defend this starting point in the face of criticism. It is well-written, a pleasure to read, and largely clear. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the problems of nonexistence. In §1 I sketch Crane's central ideas about the nonexistent, (...) before turning to themes that I would like to have heard more about. In §2, I distinguish two problems of nonexistence, showing that whilst Crane solves one, he does not address the other. Although Crane did not seek to address both problems, I think we should recognize that there is this residual problem of nonexistence remaining. Next (§3), I argue that whilst Crane is correct to think that a negative free logic has to be rejected if we construe it as making a claim about grammatical subject-predicate sentences, we might be able to salvage it if we recognise a class of logical predicates. But whether this is possible or not, depends on the solution to the unaddressed problem of nonexistence. In the final two sections I briefly raise a concern about Crane's view of quantification, before making a suggestion about his view might be employed in addressing Geach's problem of intentional identity. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that it is not irrational to doubt one’s own existence, even in the face of introspective evidence to the effect that one is currently in a certain mental state. For this purpose, I will outline a situation in which I do not exist, but which cannot be ruled out on the basis of any evidence available to me—including introspective evidence about my current mental states. I use this ‘superskeptical scenario,’ as I will (...) call it, to formulate an argument to the conclusion that I do not know that I exist. In order to substantiate my argument, I draw upon Terence Parsons’ theory of non-existent objects. I conclude that, inasmuch as Parsons’ theory is reasonable, doubts about one’s own existence are reasonable as well. (shrink)
In this paper we reply to arguments of Kroon (“Characterization and Existence in Modal Meinongianism”. Grazer Philosophische Studien 86, 23–34) to the effect that Modal Meinongianism cannot do justice to Meinongian claims such as that the golden mountain is golden, and that it does not exist.
In this paper I confront what I take to be the crucial challenge for fictional realism, i.e. the view that fictional characters exist. This is the problem of accounting for the intuition that corresponding negative existentials such as ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ are true (when, given fictional realism, taken literally they seem false). I advance a novel and detailed form of the response according to which we take them to mean variants of such claims as: there is no concrete (...) x such that x is Sherlock Holmes. (shrink)
The book offers a novel approach to the idea of divinity in guise of a philosophical doctrine called 'Logical Pantheism', according to which the only way to establish the existence of God undeniably is by equating God with Logical Space.
ABSTRACT Recent discussions of Geach sentences by Braun and Salmon are reprised. It is shown that the intractability of providing semantics for Geach sentences is due to the assumption that quantifiers are ontologically committing. Representing the content of these statements is easy using neutral quantifiers. An important concern is consistent identity conditions for nonreferring terms. It may be thought that Meinongian-object approaches handle this better than Azzouni's no-objects-in-any-sense-at-all approach. This is shown to be false. How our truth-inducing practices determine truth (...) values for empty-term statements is indicated—in particular, it is argued that our identification and distinguishing practices with “fictional entities” are parasitic on our practices with entities we take to be real. Examples from Austin—white dots on the horizon and specks—are among the test cases for the views developed here. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a certain classification of entities which are introduced in various theories of intentionality under the label ‘intentional objects’. Franz Brentano’s immanent objects, Alexius Meinong’s entities ‘beyond being and non-being’, or Roman Ingarden’s purely intentional objects can serve as examples of such entities. What they all have in common is that they have been introduced in order to extensionalise the so called ‘intentional contexts’ (‘intentional’ with ‘t’). But not all entities which function this way deserve the (...) name of intentional objects. In particular, neither Frege’s senses nor mental contents of the early Husserl are to be classified as intentional objects in my sense. Roughly speaking, to be properly called ‘an intentional object’ a postulated entity must be supposed to function as a quasi-target of the subject’s intention. In other words: intentional objects are supposed to stand ‘before the subject’s mind’, so that they, in a sense, ‘replace’ the common sense objects of reference. It turns out that the intentional objects that were introduced in the history of philosophy make up groups which, from the ontological point of view, are very heterogeneous. Nevertheless it is possible to formulate certain systematic criteria of classifying them. (shrink)
In this engaging and wide-ranging new book, Nikk Effingham provides an introduction to contemporary ontology - the study of what exists - and its importance for philosophy today. He covers the key topics in the field, from the ontology of holes, numbers and possible worlds, to space, time and the ontology of material objects - for instance, whether there are composite objects such as tables, chairs or even you and me. While starting from the basics, every chapter is up-to-date with (...) the most recent developments in the field, introducing both longstanding theories and cutting-edge advances. As well as discussing the latest issues in ontology, Effingham also helpfully deals in-depth with different methodological principles and introduces them alongside an example ontological theory that puts them into practice. This accessible and comprehensive introduction will be essential reading for upper-level undergraduate and post-graduate students, as well as any reader interested in the present state of the subject. (shrink)
Nathan Salmon appeals to his theory of mythical objects as part of an attempt to solve Geach’s Hob–Nob puzzle. In this paper I argue that, even if Salmon’s theory of mythical objects is correct, his attempt to solve the puzzle is unsuccessful. I also refute an original variant of his proposal. The discussion indicates that it is difficult (if not impossible) to devise a genuine solution to the puzzle that relies on mythical objects.
This chapter gives a truthmaker-based account of the semantics of 'reifying' quantifiers like 'something' when they act as complements of intensional transitive verbs ('need', 'look for'). It argues that such quantifiers range over 'variable satisfiers' of the attitudinal object described by the verb (e.g. the need or the search).