Truth and Reference Beyond Existence

  • Andreas De Jong

Student thesis: Phd


For the last seventy years, metaphysics within the analytic tradition has been dominated by Quinean metaontology. This metaontology’s main claim is that what the existential quantifier ranges over in first-order predicate logic translations of true sentences exists. So, everything exists. In this thesis, however, I provide a defence of Noneism, which is a species of Meinongianism. Whereas Meinongianism claims that some things do not exist, Noneism claims that such nonexistent objects have no being whatsoever. It is clear, then, that Noneism contradicts Quinean metaontology. In order to defend Noneism, I first undermine the natural language motivation of Quinean metaphysics by showing that natural language suggests existence is not captured by existential quantification, but that natural language appears to make a distinction between neutral and loaded quantification. For the rest of the thesis, the debate focusses on fictional objects. Against fictionalism, which claims that there are no fictional characters, I argue that it does not provide enough reason to claim that apparent truths about fictional characters are not really about fictional characters. To defend the claim that these apparent truths are literally true, I provide an account of aboutness and intentional identity in order to make sense of the claim that we can speak about the same object. By means of this account, I solve two paradoxes concerning intentional identity. Against Fictional Realism, which claims that fictional characters exist, I argue that it cannot providea straightforward account of literal truths about fictional characters. Since Fictional Realism is motivated by its ability to provide straightforward interpretations of truths about fictional characters, my observa-tion undermines the motivation for Fictional Realism. By contrast, I claim that fictional characters aretruths about nonexistent objects. Lastly, I argue that Modal Meinongianism is best able to provide an account of the data presented throughout this thesis. I argue that other forms of Meinongianism are not able to provide an identity criterion for nonexistent objects that is consistent with the account of intentional identity that I provideearlier. Modal Meinongianism, however, is able provide such an account. To conclude, I discuss the consequences of this defence and propose avenues for metaphysical research in the context of Noneism.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Liggins (Supervisor) & Christopher Daly (Supervisor)


  • Fictionalism
  • Fictional Characters
  • Fictional Realism
  • Nonexistent Objects
  • Pretence
  • Intentional Identity
  • Discourse Reference
  • Mental Files
  • Common Ground
  • Intentionality
  • Semantics of Fiction
  • Reference
  • Truth
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Modal Logic
  • Fiction
  • Noneism
  • Existence
  • Quineanism
  • Meinongianism
  • Quantification

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