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Talking About NothingNumbers, Hallucinations and Fictions$
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Jody Azzouni

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738946.001.0001

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General Introduction

General Introduction

(p.3) General Introduction
Talking About Nothing

Jody Azzouni (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Our thinking and speech about what doesn’t exist involves use/mention errors. When we recognize that “Pegasus doesn’t exist” can’t be about Pegasus (because there is no such object), we warp what the sentence is about to something else, concepts, words, and so on—items that it’s clear the sentence isn’t about. This aboutness intuition, when coupled with our apparent ability to say what is true and false about what doesn’t exist clashes with the otherwise natural view that what doesn’t exist has no properties. This chapter makes clear why it’s the aboutness intuition that must be modifed in order to understand how we talk and think about what doesn’t exist. This chapter also summarizes the contents of the rest of the book. There is also an appendix to the chapter that lays out important background metaphysical assumptions about what exists and what doesn’t, including the mind- and language-independence criterion for what exists.

Keywords:   aboutness, criterion for what exists, use/mention errors, Meinongianism, singular idioms, direct reference semantics

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