Close Encounters (with Meinongnianism) of the Third Kind : How to Refer to Nonexistent Objects
It is a manifest fact of the vernacular that we can refer to, and quantify on, nonexistent objects, such as hobbits, golden mountains, and winged horses. Meinong’s original object theory provided a simple account of this fact, based upon the assumption that any description refers to some object – as captured by the naïve Abstraction Principle for objects:
(AP) For any condition y on (expressible) properties, some object satisfies y
However, as the (in)famous Russell-Quine story goes, this led to unacceptable consequences, such as the admission of objects satisfying “the round-square cupola of Berkeley College”, or “the existent golden mountain”. Two main kinds of neo-Meinongian theories have been elaborated to rehabilitate nonexistents, and both require restrictions to the (AP):
(1) the nuclear/extranuclear strategy, subscribed to by Parsons, Jacquette, Routley, et al., introduces a fundamental division between two kinds of properties, and restricts the property domain for (AP) to the nuclear ones;
(2) the dual copula strategy, due to Mally, Zalta, Rapaport, et al., postulates an ambiguity in the ordinary copula (the “is” of encoding, the “is” of exemplifying), and has (AP) hold for the encoding of properties.
Following some recent hints by Graham Priest, I aim at proposing a Third Kind of Meinongianism, in which the (AP), suitably qualified, can hold unrestrictedly for all properties and with no need of copula ambiguity. For this purpose, I will need a modal semantics with so-called non-normal or impossible worlds (roughly: worlds where the laws of logic are different).
In this talk I present some features of the theory, and discuss a difficulty in providing objects of reference for descriptions that include world-pointers, that is, explicit or implicit world-indexical terms such as “at w”. I grant that the presence of world-pointers requires some limitation of the (AP), and show that such a restriction provides useful insights into the modal metaphysics underlying the theory.
...rendez-vous de 13H à 15H en salle 019 de la Maison de la Recherche !