David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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 then raised to vex 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. The view is also distinctive in that it resists categorically affirming that non-existents are abstract. (It indeed affirms that round squares are non-existent abstracta, but it also affirms that Pegasus is an non-existent concretum.) I end by arguing that it is presumptive to use Occham’s razor against Meinongian objects, since this would assume we can achieve empirical adequacy without them. Yet this assumption is now seen as contentious, in light of the data provided.
|Keywords||Meinong non-existent and merely intentional objects negative existentials definite descriptions and descriptivism fictionalism and pretense theory abstracta, abstract objects existence and mind independence ontology and quantification Occam's or Ockham's razor and parsimony possible, impossible objects|
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