Conservative Meinongianism

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
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,316
External links
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
David W. Smith (1975). Meinongian Objects. Grazer Philosophische Studien 1:43-71.
Tim Rode (1987). An "Indifferent Presentation". Grazer Philosophische Studien 29:129-143.
Karel Lambert (1974). Impossible Objects. Inquiry 17 (1-4):303 – 314.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

154 ( #27,001 of 1,932,585 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #56,564 of 1,932,585 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.