Modal Meinongianism for Fictional Objects

Francesco Berto

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Drawing on different suggestions from the literature, we outline a unified metaphysical framework, labeled as Modal Meinongian Metaphysics (MMM), combining Meinongian themes with a non-standard modal ontology. The MMM approach is based on (1) a comprehension principle (CP) for objects in unrestricted, but qualified form, and (2) the employment of an ontology of impossible worlds, besides possible ones. In §§1–2, we introduce the classical Meinongian metaphysics and consider two famous Russellian criticisms, namely (a) the charge of inconsistency and (b) the claim that naïve Meinongianism allows one to prove that anything exists. In §3, we have impossible worlds enter the stage and provide independent justification for their use. In §4, we introduce our revised comprehension principle: our CP has no restriction on the (sets of) properties that can characterize objects, but parameterizes them to worlds, therefore having modality explicitly built into it. In §5, we propose an application of the MMM apparatus to fictional objects and defend the naturalness of our treatment against alternative approaches. Finally, in §6, we consider David Lewis’ notorious objection to impossibilia, and provide a reply to it by resorting to an ersatz account of worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalMetaphysica: international journal for ontology and metaphysics
Issue number2
Early online date6 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • impossible worlds
  • meinongianism
  • contradiction
  • fictional entities


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