Centaurs, Pegasus, Sherlock Holmes: Against the Prejudice in Favour of the Real

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Meinong’s thought has been rediscovered in recent times by analytic philosophy: his object theory has significant consequences in formal ontology, and especially his account of impossible objects has proved itself to be decisive in a wide range of fields, from logic up to ontology of fiction. Rejecting the traditional ‘prejudice in favour of the real’, Meinong investigates what there is not: a peculiar non-existing object is precisely the fictional object, which exemplifies a number of properties (like Sherlock Holmes, who lives in Baker Street and is an outstanding detective) without existing in the same way as flesh-and-blood detectives do. Fictional objects are in some sense incomplete objects, whose core of constituent properties is not completely determined. Now, what does it imply to hold that a fictional object may also occur in true statements? We shall deal with the objections raised by Russell and Quine against Meinong’s view, pointing out limits and advantages of both perspectives.

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