David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy 87 (1):145-150 (2012)
If everything exists, then it looks, prima facie, as if talking about nothing is equivalent to not talking about anything. However, we appear as talking or thinking about particular nothings, that is, about particular items that are not among the existents. How to explain this phenomenon? One way is to deny that everything exists, and consequently to be ontologically committed to nonexistent “objects”. Another way is to deny that the process of thinking about such nonexistents is a genuine singular thought. The first strategy we may call “the Meinongian tradition” (championed by authors like Alexius Meinong, Ernst Mally, Terence Parsons, Richard Routley, and Ed Zalta), while the second could be dubbed “the de re tradition” (connected to work by Gareth Evans, John McDowell, and Tyler Burge). Finally, the third way to solve the above puzzle, and probably the majority view in contemporary philosophy, is due to Bertrand Russell and W.V.O. Quine, who deny the particularity of the apparent nonexistent object and the singularity of the corresponding thought via the view that any statement about apparently particular nonexistents can be paraphrased into a quantified expression containing no genuinely referring terms. Jody Azzouni’s book is an attempt to argue for and develop a fourth view, based on the hitherto unrecognised notion of an “empty singular thought”, which Azzouni takes to have a place in logical space. Concomitant to developing the view, Azzouni applies it to three typical cases of talk about nonexistents: numbers, hallucinations, and fictions. As the name suggests, empty singular thought is devised as having three essential characteristics: (1) it is genuine thought, no different from any other, (2) it is singular, that is, its content is partly determined by particular non-conceptualised states of affairs, and (3) nevertheless it is genuinely empty, unlike Meinongian thought, that is, its object “does not exist in any sense”, to use Azzouni’s own formulation. Azzouni undertakes some challenging acrobatics when trying to persuade the reader that his view is substantive and it does not end up being the same as any of the previous three views about apparent talk about nonexistents..
|Keywords||nonexistent objects ontological commitment singular thought|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Jody Azzouni (2011). Singular Thoughts (Objects-Directed Thoughts). Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):45-61.
Gabriele Contessa (2012). Sweet Nothings. Analysis 72 (2):354-366.
István Aranyosi (2012). Talking About Nothing. Numbers, Hallucinations, and Fictions. By Jody Azzouni. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, Pp. 288, $74. ISBN: 978-0-19-973894-6. [REVIEW] Philosophy 87 (01):145-150.
Jody Azzouni (2010). Talking About Nothing: Numbers, Hallucinations, and Fictions. Oxford University Press.
Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2007). Meinong’s Version of the Description Theory. Russell 27 (1):73-85.
Kenneth Taylor (2010). On Singularity. In Robin Jeshion (ed.), New Essays on Singular Thought. Oup Oxford.
Tim Crane (2011). The Singularity of Singular Thought. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):21-43.
Joshua Armstrong & Jason Stanley (2011). Singular Thoughts and Singular Propositions. Philosophical Studies 154 (2):205 - 222.
James Genone (2014). Evidential Constraints on Singular Thought. Mind and Language 29 (1):1-25.
Friederike Moltmann (forthcoming). The Number of Planets, a Number-Referring Term? In Philip A. Ebert & Marcus Rossberg (eds.), Abstractionism. Oxford University Press.
Yvonne Raley (2009). Deflating Existence Away? A Critique of Azzouni's Nominalism. Philosophia Mathematica 17 (1):73-83.
Bernard Linsky & Edward N. Zalta (1991). Is Lewis a Meinongian? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (4):438–453.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads104 ( #10,046 of 1,098,976 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #57,966 of 1,098,976 )
How can I increase my downloads?