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Friday, 27 May 2011

Refering to objects


In his very interesting commentary on my last post, Tomás writes:

"Quineans think Meinongians and realists alike confuse reference and meaning. I guess Meinongians think that realists and Quineans alike confuse reference with existence. Surely one cannot bring an object to existence simply by referring to it, if bringing about just means bringing into existence. And I believe that acknowledging this is precisely what distinguish the Meinongian from the global realist."

It is interesting the idea that we can refer to objects even if they don't exist. But my main concern with Meinongians is that I suspect that they have to embrace some kind of descriptivism and in that sense they confuse meaning and reference too. It all depends on how you carve those concepts through. But can there be a form of Meinongianism that dispells my suspicion of excessive attachment to descriptions and their resources? (I would bet on a Donnellan seasoning...).

In any case, I like the independence of reference and the independence of existence from the whereabouts of description. And I do tend to tie reference and existence, what I suppose puts me straight into the Quinean or realist bunch. I guess I would go for an existential pluralism for reasons that have to be somehow alien to the semantic debate but that can shed light on it.

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