Nonexistent Objects

Edited by David Sanson (Illinois State University)
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  1. Meinongian Merits and Maladies.Samuel Hoadley-Brill - manuscript
    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 (...)
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  2. Conservative Meinongianism: An Actualist+ Meta/Ontology.T. Parent - manuscript
    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 (...)
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  3. There Is No Spoon: Why Artifacts Don't Exist.Aaron P. Sullivan - manuscript
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  4. Ontological Pluralism About Non-Being.Sara Bernstein - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence.
    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 (...)
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  5. The Cosmic Void.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  6. Aristotle on Being.George Couvalis - forthcoming - Modern Greek Studies (Australia and New Zealand).
    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 (...)
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  7. Now, Imagine an Actually Existing Unicorn: On Russellian Worries for Modal Meinongianism.Andreas de Jong - forthcoming - Axiomathes:1-16.
    Modal Meinongianism provides the semantics of sentences involving intentional verbs Priest (Towards Nonbeing, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016). To that end, Modal Meinongianism employs a pointed non-normal quantified modal logic model. Like earlier Meinongian views Modal Meinongianism has a characterisation principle (QCP), that claims that any condition whatsoever is satisfied by some object in some world. Recently, Everett (The nonexistent, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, 169, p. 36) has proposed an argument against QCP that, if successful, gives rise to problems (...)
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  8. The Beauty of Philosophy.Bryan Frances - forthcoming - Philosophy is Awesome.
  9. A Radical Relationist Solution to the Problem of Intentional Inexistence.Andrea Marchesi - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    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 (...)
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  10. How Can Buddhists Prove That Non-Existent Things Do Not Exist?Koji Tanaka - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essay on the Metaphysics of Non-Existence. Oxford, UK:
    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 (...)
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  11. Invasive Weeds in Parmenides' Garden.Olga Ramirez Calle - 2020 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 20 (60):391-412.
    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.
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  12. Variable Objects and Truthmaking.Friederike Moltmann - 2020 - In Mircea Dumitru (ed.), Metaphysics, Meaning, and Modality. Themes from Kit Fine. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  13. Grounding Nonexistence.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (2):209-229.
    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 (...)
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  14. Review of John Woods, Truth in Fiction: Rethinking its Logic. [REVIEW]Gilbert Plumer - 2020 - Informal Logic 40 (1):147-156.
  15. A Meinongian Empirical Case Based on Galician 'Meigas'.Olga Ramírez Calle - 2020 - E-Logos 27 (1):4-20.
  16. Extended Modal Realism — a New Solution to the Problem of Intentional Inexistence.Andrew D. Thomas - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1197-1208.
    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 (...)
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  17. Nonexistent Objects.Maria Reicher - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    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. (...)
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  18. Sylvan's Jungle Volume 1: Exploring Meinong's Jungle and Beyond.Maureen Eckert - 2018 - International: Synthese Library.
    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 (...)
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  19. Husserl’s Early Theory of Intentionality as a Relational Theory.Andrea Marchesi - 2018 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 95 (3):343-367.
    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 (...)
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  20. Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence By Manuel García-Carpintero and Genoveva Martí. [REVIEW]T. Parent - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):172-173.
  21. Deep Indeterminacy in Physics and Fiction.George Darby, Martin Pickup & Jon Robson - 2017 - In Otávio Bueno, Steven French, George Darby & Dean Rickles (eds.), Thinking About Science, Reflecting on Art: Bringing Aesthetics and Philosophy of Science Together. Routledge.
    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, (...)
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  22. On Inadvertently Created Abstracta, Fictional Storytelling, and Scientific Hypothesizing.Jeffrey Goodman - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (1):177-188.
    In my “Creatures of Fiction, Objects of Myth”, 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 ; 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 (...)
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  23. Review of Anthony Everett, The Nonexistent. [REVIEW]Catharine Abell - 2016 - British Journal of Aesthetics 56 (2):209-212.
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  24. Two‐Dimensional Modal Meinongianism.Wolfgang Barz - 2016 - Ratio 29 (3):249-267.
    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 (...)
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  25. Thinking About Different Nonexistents of the Same Kind: Reid's Account of the Imagination and its Nonexistent Objects.Marina Folescu - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):627-649.
    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 (...)
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  26. On Modal Meinongianism.Thibaut Giraud - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    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 (...)
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  27. Paradise on the Cheap. Ascriptivism About Ficta.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2016 - In Mauro Antonelli & Marian David (eds.), Existence, Fiction, Assumption. Meinongian Themes and the History of Austrian Philosophy. Meinong Studies, vol. VI. de Gruyter. pp. 99-140.
    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 (...)
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  28. Who’s Afraid of Non-Existent Manifestations?Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2016 - In Francesco F. Calemi (ed.), Metaphysics and Scientific Realism: Essays in Honour of David Malet Armstrong. De Gruyter. pp. 193-206.
    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 (...)
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  29. Expressivism About Reference and Quantification Over the Non-Existent Without Meinongian Metaphysics.Stephen Barker - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S2):215-234.
    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 (...)
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  30. New Arguments for 'Intelligent Design'? Review Article on William A. Dembski, Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information. [REVIEW]Philippe Gagnon - 2015 - ESSSAT News and Reviews 25 (1):17-24.
    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).
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  31. The Objects of Thought by Tim Crane Oxford University Press 2014, Pp. 208, £27.50 ISBN: 978-0-19-968274-4. [REVIEW]Guy Longworth - 2015 - Philosophy 90 (1):146-151.
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  32. The Nonexistent. By Anthony Everett. (Oxford: OUP, 2013. Pp. Viii + 246.) (Book Review).Maria E. Reicher - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):870-872.
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  33. The Problem of Nonexistence: Truthmaking or Semantics? Critical Notice of The Objects of Thought, by Tim Crane.Lee Walters - 2015 - Disputatio 7 (41):231-245.
    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, (...)
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  34. Doubts About One’s Own Existence.Wolfgang Barz - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):645-668.
    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 (...)
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  35. Modal Meinongianism and Characterization.Francesco Berto & Graham Priest - 2014 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 90 (1):183-200.
    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.
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  36. Fictional Realism and Negative Existentials.Tatjana von Solodkoff - 2014 - In Manuel García-Carpintero & Genoveva Martí (eds.), Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence. Oxford University Press. pp. 333-352.
    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 (...)
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  37. God, Mind, and Logical Space: A Revisionary Approach to Divinity.István Aranyosi - 2013 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    In God, Mind and Logical Space István Aranyosi takes the reader on a journey for the mind by revisiting the fundamental questions and the everlasting debates in philosophy of religion, ontology, and the philosophy of mind. The first part deals with issues in ontology, and the author puts forward a radical view according to which all thinkable objects and states of affairs have an equal claim to existence in a way that renders existence a relative notion. In the second part (...)
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  38. Hobnobbing with the Nonexistent.Jody Azzouni - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4):340-358.
    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 (...)
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  39. Varieties of Intentional Objects.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2013 - Semiotica 2013 (194):189–206.
    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 (...)
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  40. Salmon on Hob and Nob.David Friedell - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):213-220.
    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.
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  41. Chapter 5: Intensional Transitive Verbs and Their 'Objects'.Friederike Moltmann - 2013 - In Abstract Objects and the semantics of Natural Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    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).
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  42. The Semantics of Existence.Friederike Moltmann - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (1):31-63.
    The notion of existence is a very puzzling one philosophically. Often philosophers have appealed to linguistic properties of sentences stating existence. However, the appeal to linguistic intuitions has generally not been systematic and without serious regard of relevant issues in linguistic semantics. This paper has two aims. On the one hand, it will look at statements of existence from a systematic linguistic point of view, in order to try to clarify what the actual semantics of such statements in fact is. (...)
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  43. Exploring Meinong’s Jungle and Beyond: An Investigation of Noneism and the Theory of Items by R. Routley.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2013 - Humana Mente 6 (25):275-292.
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  44. Meinong on Aesthetic Objects and the Knowledge-Value of Emotions.Venanzio Raspa - 2013 - Humana.Mente. Journal of Philosophical Studies 25:211-234.
    In this paper I trace a theoretical path along Meinong’s works, by means of which the notion of aesthetic object as well as the changes this notion undergoes along Meinong’s output will be highlighted. Focusing especially on "Über emotionale Präsentation", I examine, on the one hand, the cognitive function of emotions, on the other hand, the objects apprehended by aesthetic emotions, i.e. aesthetic objects. These are ideal objects of higher order, which have, even though not primarily, the capacity to attract (...)
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  45. Modal Meinongianism, Russell’s Paradox, and the Language/Metalanguage Distinction.Maciej Sendłak - 2013 - Polish Journal of Philosophy (2):63-78.
    The subject of my article is the principle of characterization – the most controversial principle of Meinong’s Theory of Objects. The aim of this text is twofold. First of all, I would like to show that Russell’s well-known objection to Meinong’s Theory of Objects can be reformulated against a new modal interpretation of Meinongianism that is presented mostly by Graham Priest. Secondly, I would like to propose a strategy which gives uncontroversial restriction to the principle of characterization and which allows (...)
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  46. Probably the Charterhouse of Parma Does Not Exist, Possibly Not Even That Parma.Alberto Voltolini - 2013 - Humana Mente 6 (25):235-261.
    In this paper, I will claim that fictional works apparently about utterly immigrant objects, i.e., real individuals imported in fiction from reality, are instead about fictional individuals that intentionally resemble those real individuals in a significant manner: fictional surrogates of such individuals. Since I also share the realists’ conviction that the remaining fictional works concern native characters, i.e., full-fledged fictional individuals that originate in fiction itself, I will here defend a hyperrealist position according to which fictional works only concern fictional (...)
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  47. Towards Being.Richard Woodward - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):183-193.
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  48. Talking About Nothing. Numbers, Hallucinations, and Fictions.István Aranyosi - 2012 - Philosophy 87 (1):145-150.
    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. (...)
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  49. The Selection Problem.Francesco Berto - 2012 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 262:519-37.
    In 'Fiction and Fictionalism', Mark Sainsbury has recently dubbed “Selection Problem” a serious trouble for Meinongian object theories. Typically, Meinongianism has been phrased as a kind of realism on nonexistent objects : these are mind-independent things, not mental simulacra, having the properties they have independently from the activity of any cognitive agent. But how can one single out an object we have no causal acquaintance with, and which is devoid of spatiotemporal location, picking it out from a pre-determined, mind-independent set (...)
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  50. Existence as a Real Property.Francesco Berto - 2012 - Synthèse Library, Springer.
    This book is both an introduction to and a research work on Meinongianism. “Meinongianism” is taken here, in accordance with the common philosophical jargon, as a general label for a set of theories of existence – probably the most basic notion of ontology. As an introduction, the book provides the first comprehensive survey and guide to Meinongianism and non-standard theories of existence in all their main forms. As a research work, the book exposes and develops the most up-to-date Meinongian theory (...)
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