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Objects

Edited by Daniel Z. Korman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Australian National University)
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Summary

Objects are subjects of predication: anything of which something can be said is an object. So construed, the category of objects covers not only material beings like mountains, baseballs, and electrons, but also abstracta (numbers, properties, relations, set). and even non-existent entities if there be any. The papers contained herein concern the nature and existence of different varieties of objects. Some of the most prominent topics include the relation between an objects and the properties it bears; the relation between an object and its parts (mereology); the identity relation that holds between an object and itself; and the persistence of objects through time.  

Key works

For work on the nature and existence of abstract objects, see Quine 1948, Bealer 1982, Armstrong 1989, and Dorr 2008.

For work on persistence, see Hirsch 1982Hawley 2001, and Sider 2001.

For work on identity, see Black 1952Kripke 1971, and Adams 1979.

Introductions

For an introduction to the notion of a object, see Laycock 2010. For abstract objects, see Rosen 2008. For material objects, see Van Inwagen 1990 and Korman 2011.

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  1. David J. Anderson & Edward N. Zalta (2004). Frege, Boolos, and Logical Objects. Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (1):1-26.
    In this paper, the authors discuss Frege's theory of "logical objects" (extensions, numbers, truth-values) and the recent attempts to rehabilitate it. We show that the 'eta' relation George Boolos deployed on Frege's behalf is similar, if not identical, to the encoding mode of predication that underlies the theory of abstract objects. Whereas Boolos accepted unrestricted Comprehension for Properties and used the 'eta' relation to assert the existence of logical objects under certain highly restricted conditions, the theory of abstract objects uses (...)
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  2. István Aranyosi (2011). The Solo Numero Paradox. American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):347.
    Leibniz notoriously insisted that no two individuals differ solo numero, that is, by being primitively distinct, without differing in some property. The details of Leibniz’s own way of understanding and defending the principle –known as the principle of identity of indiscernibles (henceforth ‘the Principle’)—is a matter of much debate. However, in contemporary metaphysics an equally notorious and discussed issue relates to a case put forward by Max Black (1952) as a counter-example to any necessary and non-trivial version of the principle. (...)
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  3. Mark Balaguer, Fictionalism in the Philosophy of Mathematics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Mathematical fictionalism (or as I'll call it, fictionalism) is best thought of as a reaction to mathematical platonism. Platonism is the view that (a) there exist abstract mathematical objects (i.e., nonspatiotemporal mathematical objects), and (b) our mathematical sentences and theories provide true descriptions of such objects. So, for instance, on the platonist view, the sentence ‘3 is prime’ provides a straightforward description of a certain object—namely, the number 3—in much the same way that the sentence ‘Mars is red’ provides a (...)
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  4. Mark Balaguer, Platonism in Metaphysics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Platonism is the view that there exist such things as abstract objects — where an abstract object is an object that does not exist in space or time and which is therefore entirely non-physical and nonmental. Platonism in this sense is a contemporary view. It is obviously related to the views of Plato in important ways, but it is not entirely clear that Plato endorsed this view, as it is defined here. In order to remain neutral on this question, the (...)
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  5. James Robert Brown (1988). Abstract Objects Bob Hale Oxford: Blackwell, 1987. Pp. 282. $75.00. [REVIEW] Dialogue 27 (04):729-.
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  6. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2004). Roman Ingarden. Ontology From a Phenomenological Point of View. Reports on Philosophy 22:121-142.
    Ontology is doubtless the most important part of Roman Ingarden’s (1893-1970) philosophy. Contrary to Husserl, Ingarden always believed that any serious philosophical investigation must involve an ontological basis and he tried to formulate a solid ontological framework for his philosophy. There are several reasons why this ontology deserves our attention. For those who are interested in Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, Ingarden’s ontology could be treated as an ingenious attempt to analyse the conceptual structure and hidden ontological assumptions of Husserl’s transcendental idealism. (...)
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  7. Justin Clarke-Doane, Platonic Semantics.
    If anything is taken for granted in contemporary metaphysics, it is 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. This belief is often motivated by the intuitively stronger one that the platonist can take the semantic appearances “at face-value” while the nominalist must resort to apparently ad hoc and technically problematic machinery in order to explain those appearances away. (...)
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  8. Justin Clarke-Doane, Platonic Semantics.
    If anything is taken for granted in contemporary metaphysics, it is 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. This belief is often motivated by the intuitively stronger one that the platonist can take the semantic appearances “at face-value” while the nominalist must resort to apparently ad hoc and technically problematic machinery in order to explain those appearances away. (...)
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  9. Gabriele Contessa (2010). Scientific Models and Fictional Objects. Synthese 172 (2):215 - 229.
    In this paper, I distinguish scientific models in three kinds on the basis of their ontological status—material models, mathematical models and fictional models, and develop and defend an account of fictional models as fictional objects—i.e. abstract objects that stand for possible concrete objects.
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  10. Sam Cowling (2013). The Way of Actuality. Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2):1-17.
    In this paper, I defend an indexical analysis of the abstract-concrete distinction within the framework of modal realism. This analysis holds the abstract-concrete distinction to be conceptually inseparable from the distinction between the actual and the merely possible, which is assumed to be indexical in nature. The resulting view contributes to the case for modal realism by demonstrating how its distinctive resources provide a reductive analysis of the abstract-concrete distinction. This indexical analysis also provides a solution to a sceptical problem (...)
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  11. Mike Dillinger (1984). Book Review:Language and Other Abstract Objects J. J. Katz. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 51 (1):175-.
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  12. Cian Dorr (2008). There Are No Abstract Objects. In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell.
    I explicate and defend the claim that, fundamentally speaking, there are no numbers, sets, properties or relations. The clarification consists in some remarks on the relevant sense of ‘fundamentally speaking’ and the contrasting sense of ‘superficially speaking’. The defence consists in an attempt to rebut two arguments for the existence of such entities. The first is a version of the indispensability argument, which purports to show that certain mathematical entities are required for good scientific explanations. The second is a speculative (...)
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  13. Brian Epstein (2008). The Internal and the External in Linguistic Explanation. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (22):77-111.
    Chomsky and others have denied the relevance of external linguistic entities, such as E-languages, to linguistic explanation, and have questioned their coherence altogether. I discuss a new approach to understanding the nature of linguistic entities, focusing in particular on making sense of the varieties of kinds of “words” that are employed in linguistic theorizing. This treatment of linguistic entities in general is applied to constructing an understanding of external linguistic entities.
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  14. Maurizio Ferraris (2009). Documentalità: Perché È Necessario Lasciar Tracce. Laterza.
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  15. Jeffrey Goodman (2010). Fictionalia as Modal Artifacts. Grazer Philosophische Studien 80 (1):21-46.
    Th ere is much controversy surrounding the nature of the relation between fictional individuals and possible individuals. Some have argued that no fictional individual is a possible individual; others have argued that (some) fictional individuals just are (merely) possible individuals. In this paper, I off er further grounds for believing the theory of fictional individuals defended by Amie Thomasson,viz., Artifactualism, by arguing that her view best allows one to make sense of this puzzling relation. More specifically, when we realize that (...)
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  16. Jeffrey Goodman (2007). A Novel Category of Vague Abstracta. Metaphysica 8 (1):79-96.
    Much attention has been given to the question of ontic vagueness, and the issues usually center around whether certain paradigmatically concrete entities – cats, clouds, mountains, etc. – are vague in the sense of having indeterminate spatial boundaries. In this paper, however, I wish to focus on a way in which some abstracta seem to be locationally vague. To begin, I will briefly cover some territory already covered regarding certain types of “traditional” abstracta and the ways they are currently alleged (...)
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  17. Richard Heck, What Is a Singular Term?
    This paper discusses the question whether it is possible to explain the notion of a singular term without invoking the notion of an object or other ontological notions. The framework here is that of Michael Dummett's discussion in Frege: Philosophy of Language. I offer an emended version of Dummett's conditions, accepting but modifying some suggestions made by Bob Hale, and defend the emended conditions against some objections due to Crispin Wright. This paper dates from about 1989. It originally formed part (...)
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  18. Richard Heck (2011). The Existence (and Non-Existence) of Abstract Objects. In Frege's Theorem. Oxford University Press.
    This paper is concerned with neo-Fregean accounts of reference to abstract objects. It develops an objection to the most familiar such accounts, due to Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, based upon what I call the 'proliferation problem': Hale and Wright's account makes reference to abstract objects seem too easy, as is shown by the fact that any equivalence relation seems as good as any other. The paper then develops a response to this objection, and offers an account of what it (...)
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  19. Richard Heck (2000). Syntactic Reductionism. Philosophia Mathematica 8 (2):124-149.
    Syntactic Reductionism, as understood here, is the view that the ‘logical forms’ of sentences in which reference to abstract objects appears to be made are misleading so that, on analysis, we can see that no expressions which even purport to refer to abstract objects are present in such sentences. After exploring the motivation for such a view, and arguing that no previous argument against it succeeds, sentences involving generalized quantifiers, such as ‘most’, are examined. It is then argued, on this (...)
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  20. Harold T. Hodes (1992). Book Review. Abstract Objects. Bob Hale. [REVIEW] International Studies in Philosophy 24 (3):146-48.
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  21. T. Hofweber & A. Everett (eds.) (2000). Empty Names, Fiction, and the Puzzles of Non-Existence. CSLI Publications.
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  22. Ludger Jansen (2005). Institutionen und die kategoriale Ontologie. In Gerhard Schönrich (ed.), Institutionen und ihre Ontologie. Ontos. 45-57.
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  23. David Liggins (2010). Epistemological Objections to Platonism. Philosophy Compass 5 (1):67-77.
    Many philosophers posit abstract entities – where something is abstract if it is acausal and lacks spatio-temporal location. Theories, types, characteristics, meanings, values and responsibilities are all good candidates for abstractness. Such things raise an epistemological puzzle: if they are abstract, then how can we have any epistemic access to how they are? If they are invisible, intangible and never make anything happen, then how can we ever discover anything about them? In this article, I critically examine epistemological objections to (...)
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  24. Franck Lihoreau (ed.) (2011). Truth in Fiction. Ontos Verlag.
    The essays collected in this volume are all concerned with the connection between fiction and truth. This question is of utmost importance to metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophical logic and epistemology, raising in each of these areas and at their intersections a large number of issues related to creation, existence, reference, identity, modality, belief, assertion, imagination, pretense, etc. All these topics and many more are addressed in this collection, which brings together original essays written from various points of view by (...)
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  25. Øystein Linnebo (2008). Structuralism and the Notion of Dependence. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):59-79.
    This paper has two goals. The first goal is to show that the structuralists’ claims about dependence are more significant to their view than is generally recognized. I argue that these dependence claims play an essential role in the most interesting and plausible characterization of this brand of structuralism. The second goal is to defend a compromise view concerning the dependence relations that obtain between mathematical objects. Two extreme views have tended to dominate the debate, namely the view that all (...)
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  26. Øystein Linnebo (2005). To Be is to Be an F. Dialectica 59 (2):201–222.
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  27. Michael Liston (2004). Knowledge, Cause, and Abstract Objects: Causal Objections to Platonism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (2):356 – 359.
    Book Information Knowledge, Cause, and Abstract Objects: Causal Objections to Platonism. Knowledge, Cause, and Abstract Objects: Causal Objections to Platonism Colin Cheyne , Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers , 2001 , xvi + 236 , £55 ( cloth ) By Colin Cheyne. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Pp. xvi + 236. £55.
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  28. Michael J. Loux (1986). Toward an Aristotelian Theory of Abstract Objects. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11 (1):495-512.
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  29. E. J. Lowe (1995). The Metaphysics of Abstract Objects. Journal of Philosophy 92 (10):509-524.
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  30. Mark McEvoy (2003). Language and Other Abstract Objects [1981]: The Metaphysics of Linguistics. Philosophical Forum 34 (3-4):427–438.
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  31. Christopher Menzel (1993). Possibilism and Object Theory. Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):195 - 208.
    A central stream running through the history of philosophy has been the attempt to gather a wide range of ostensibly disparate intuitive phenomena under a small, integrated set of concepts. Edward Zalta’s work is a sustained celebration of this tradition. This paper — part of a symposium on Zalta's work — is a friendly, but critical examination of Zalta's commitment to possibilism and the roles they play in his theory.
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  32. Friederike Moltmann (2013). Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language. Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers have defended various views about abstract objects by appealing to metaphysical considerations, considerations regarding mathematics or science, and, not infrequently, intuitions about natural language. This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an ontological picture (...)
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  33. Friederike Moltmann (2005). Two Kinds of Universals and Two Kinds of Collections. Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (6):739 - 776.
    This paper argues for an ontological distinction between two kinds of universals, 'kinds of tropes' such as 'wisdom' and properties such as 'the property of being wise'. It argues that the distinction is parallel to that between two kinds of collections, pluralities such as 'the students' and collective objects such as 'the class'. The paper argues for the priortity of distributive readings with pluralities on the basis of predicates of extent or shape, such 'large' or 'long'.
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  34. Thomas V. Morris & Christopher Menzel (1986). Absolute Creation. American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (4):353 - 362.
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  35. Daniel Nolan & Alexander Sandgren (forthcoming). Creationism and Cardinality. Analysis.
    Creationism about fictional entities requires a principle connecting what fictions say exist with which fictional entities really exist. The most natural way of spelling out such a principle yields inconsistent verdicts about how many fictional entities are generated by certain inconsistent fictions. Avoiding inconsistency without compromising the attractions of creationism will not be easy.
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  36. James Willard Oliver (1960). Note on Contingent Properties of Abstract Objects. Philosophical Studies 11 (1-2):16 -.
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  37. Paul E. Oppenheimer & Edward N. Zalta (2007). Reflections on the Logic of the Ontological Argument. Studia Neoaristotelica 4 (1):28-35.
    In this paper, the authors evaluate the ontological argument they developed in their 1991 paper as to soundness. They focus on Anselm's first premise, which asserts: there is a conceivable thing than which nothing greater is conceivable. After suggesting reasons why this premise is false, the authors show that there is a reading of this premise on which it is true. Such a premise can be used in a valid and sound reconstruction of the ontological argument. This argument is developed (...)
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  38. Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen, Considerations on Neo-Fregean Ontology.
    i.e. for any concepts X and Y, the number of X’s and the number of Y’s are identical if and only if there is a 1-1 correspondence between X and Y.1 The central claim of neo- Fregeanism with respect to arithmetic is that arithmetical knowledge can be obtained a priori through Frege’s Theorem, the result that the axioms of arithmetic are derivable in the system obtained by adding Hume’s Principle to second-order logic.
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  39. Giuseppe Primiero (2009). Proceeding in Abstraction. From Concepts to Types and the Recent Perspective on Information. History and Philosophy of Logic 30 (3):257-282.
    This article presents an historical and conceptual overview on different approaches to logical abstraction. Two main trends concerning abstraction in the history of logic are highlighted, starting from the logical notions of concept and function. This analysis strictly relates to the philosophical discussion on the nature of abstract objects. I develop this issue further with respect to the procedure of abstraction involved by (typed) λ-systems, focusing on the crucial change about meaning and predicability. In particular, the analysis of the nature (...)
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  40. Gideon Rosen, Abstract Objects. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  41. Gideon Rosen (1993). The Refutation of Nominalism (?). Philosophical Topics 21 (2):141--86.
  42. Charles Sayward (2002). A Conversation About Numbers. Philosophia 29 (1-4):191-209.
    This is a dialogue in which five characters are involved. Various issues in the philosophy of mathematics are discussed. Among those issues are these: numbers as abstract objects, our knowledge of numbers as abstract objects, a proof as showing a mathematical statement to be true as opposed to the statement being true in virtue of having a proof.
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  43. Benjamin Schnieder & Tatjana von Solodkoff (2009). In Defence of Fictional Realism. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):138-149.
    Fictional realism, i.e., the view that because fictions exist, fictional characters exist as well, has recently been accused of leading to inconsistency generated by phenomena of indeterminacy and inconsistency in fiction. We examine in detail four arguments against fictional realism, and present a version of fictional realism which can withstand those arguments.
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  44. Alfred Schramm (ed.) (2005). Meinong Studien.
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  45. Mark Sharlow, Getting Realistic About Nominalism.
    In this paper I examine critically the relationship between the realist and nominalist views of abstract objects. I begin by pointing out some differences between the usage of existential statements in metaphysics and the usage of such statements in disciplines outside of philosophy. Then I propose an account of existence that captures the characteristic intuitions underlying the latter kind of usage. This account implies that abstract object existence claims are not as ontologically extravagant as they seem, and that such claims (...)
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  46. Mark Sharlow, I Am an Abstraction, Therefore I Am.
    In this paper I examine a new variant of the well-known idea that the self is an abstract object. I propose a simple model of the self as a property of temporal slices of a body's history. I argue that this model, when combined with even a modest realism with regard to properties, implies that the self has many of the chief features traditionally attributed to selves. I conclude that this model allows one to reconcile the full reality of the (...)
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  47. Mark Sharlow, Platonizing the Abstract Self.
    In this note I examine the two main differences between Plato's and Dennett's views of the self as an abstract object. I point out that in the presence of certain forms of ontological realism, abstract-object theories of the self are compatible with the full reality of the self. I conclude with some remarks on the relationship between ontology and ethics.
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  48. A. Sierszulska (2006). On Tichy's Determiners and Zalta's Abstract Objects. Axiomathes 16 (4):486-498.
    It is not a common practice to postulate meaning entities treated as objects of some kind. The paper demonstrates two ways of introducing meaning-objects in two logics of natural language, Tichy’s Transparent Intensional Logic and Zalta’s Intensional Logic of Abstract Objects. Tichy’s theory belongs to the Fregean line of thinking, with what he calls ‘constructions’ as Fregean senses, and ‘determiners’ as object-like meaning entities constructed by the senses. Zalta’s theory belongs to Meinongian logics and he postulates a rich realm of (...)
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  49. Peter Simons (1989). Determinacy of Abstract Objects: The Platonist's Dilemma. Topoi 8 (1):35-42.
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  50. Vojko Strahovnik (2005). Meinongian Scorekeeping. In Alfred Schramm (ed.), Meinong Studien.
    Some commitments at the interface of semantics and ontology, such as numbers or symphonies, tend to appear problematic. The scorekeeping approach to semantics introduces contextually shifting parameters that allow for construal of truth as indirect correspondence. Meinong did recognize diversity and richness that is made possible by the non-reductionist engagement of the scorekeeping approach. Because of his commitment to the deep presupposition of direct correspondence construal of truth though, Meinong had to interpret richness of normative discursive scorekeeping commitments as richness (...)
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