Nonexistence
Salmon (Nathan)
Source: Salmon (Nathan) - Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning, 2005
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. Problems arising from nonreferring names are addressed from the perspective of the direct reference theory. A solution consistent with Millianism is proposed to the problem of true negative existentials.
  2. A variety of theories of nonexistence are surveyed and a new theory of fictional objects is advanced.
  3. Distinctions are drawn among:
    • existing general propositions involving empty concepts;
    • once existing singular propositions;
    • future singular propositions;
    • merely possible singular propositions;
    • singular propositions that could not exist (many of which are nonetheless true);
    • singular propositions about fictional characters; and last but not least,
    • "structurally challenged propositions," expressed by the most intransigent of negative existentials.

Oxford Scholarship On-Line Abstract
  1. It is argued that reference to the nonexistent, and belief of nonexistent propositions, are commonplace.
  2. True, singular, negative existentials vary by the semantic nature of the subject term or the ontological status of its designatum.
  3. The most common true negative existentials involve names that designate nonexistent things - actual past things, actual future, merely possible, or impossible.
  4. Fiction is not a case in point; fictional characters are real. Error is merely accidental fiction.

Comment:

Nous; Sep98, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p277, 43p

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