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Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Assuming he has some work around for names of impossible beings, he could adopt a linguistic idealist form of Lewis's modal theory.

“what is the antecedent of a sentence or statement?”

A preceding sentence or statement.

> The reference of 'he' is parasitic on the reference of 'Tom' in 'Tom enjoyed the massage he received' and so there is a sense in which the reference of 'he' is intra-linguistic; but 'Tom,' if it refers at all, refers extra-linguistically.

No. “There was a hobbit called ‘Frodo’. Frodo lived in a hole”. Or see the ‘Asmodeus’ example that you discuss next.

> I now put the question to the Ostrich: what is it for the referent to exist?

If ‘Asmodeus’ has a referent, then something satisfies the singular concept signified by ‘Asmodeus’. The singular concept is determined anaphorically.

>And yet 'Asmodeus' refers to something. There is a difference between referring to something that does not exist and not referring to anything.

The thesis of Reference and Identity is that ‘refers to’ is an intentional verb, i.e. not existentially loaded.

>Now the Ostrich told us that [1] 'Asmodeus' refers to something. But then [2] something is such that it does not exist, and we are in Meinongian precincts -- which is precisely where an ostrich will not stray if he can help it.<

My numbering. [2] does not follows from [1]. See Chapter 7 of the book, particularly the section on the ‘something’ problem, which addresses the Meinongian issue. The fact that you mention ‘Asmodeus’ at all suggests that you have looked at it.

>'Asmodeus' is a member of a chain of co-referring terms, which implies that 'Asmodeus' has a semantic value, an object, an object which exists simply in virtue of being an object.

No, not at all. Can you give some reasoning behind this?

>I suspect that the Ostrich is using 'semantic value' in the way Gareth Evans uses it

No quite the opposite.

I just spotted this.

So the Ostrich cannot mean that 'Asmodeus' refers to something that does not exist; he must mean that 'Asmodeus' is an empty/vacuous name, i.e., one that does not refer at all, one without a referent. Again, there is a plain difference between a term having a nonexisting referent and a term's having no having no referent at all.
Note the non-intentional, i.e. existentially loaded use of the verb ‘has’. An empty/vacuous name can refer – for ‘Asmodeus’ does indeed refer to Asmodeus. But ‘refer to’ is intentional, i.e. not existentially loaded. But that does not imply “‘Asmodeus’ has a referent”, because to have a referent is to have an existing referent. We cannot infer an existentially loaded proposition from which which is not existentially loaded. That is the intentionalist fallacy. Compare to Hume’s thesis that we cannot infer an ‘ought’ statement from an ‘is’ statement.

Do you agree that 'Frodo Baggins' refers to Frodo Baggins?

And do you also agree that there is no such person as Frodo Baggins?

>> because to have a referent is to have an existing referent.<< You dogmatically assert that, but you need to show that no referent is a nonexisting referent. Prove that Meinong is wrong. If you can't prove that, your 'intentional fallacy' is just a rhetorical cheap shot.

Bill, you say,

There is a difference between referring to something that does not exist and not referring to anything.
Yes, but for Oz, if I have understood him, reference to, as opposed to having a referent, is a lexical phenomenon. If I announce, 'I am having dinner with Jane tonight', and I'm so conversationally inept that I haven't yet said who Jane is, then 'Jane' here does not refer. There is no antecedent statement that introduces the name 'Jane'. This chimes nicely with the rules of the predicate calculus. The only valid way to introduce a new name is by 'Existential Elimination'. That is, from the existential claim, ∃x. Px, we may infer Pc, where c is the new name (logical constant). This is informally explained to undergraduate mathematicians as the imperative never to introduce a name without first proving that the object being named exists. Of course, in natural language use we do sometimes omit the introduction, 'I have an old friend called 'Jane'', but the omission is tentatively repaired by the listener, 'There's somebody called 'Jane' he knows', or similar existential thought. The 'empty' name phenomenon arises when the existential statement on which rides the name's introduction is false. There's a demon called 'Asmodeus'. False. 'Asmodeus' has no referent. There's a man called 'Moses'. True. 'Moses' has a referent. We do have to pull apart refers to (internal, intentional) and has a referent (external, non-intentional).

>You dogmatically assert that, but you need to show that no referent is a nonexisting referent.

I don't need to show that, for reasons already explained. I will explain again. Either

(1) Every referent has an existing referent.

or

(2) Not every referent has an existing referent.

(3) If (1) is true, then the Intentionality Thesis is false, and I win.

(4) If (2) is true, then there is no paradox of Intentionality, and I win.

Either way I win, therefore I win.

As I pointed out earlier by email, your error is the equivocation on the verb ‘has’. You wrote “my thinking becomes objectless when the WM ceases to exist”, i.e. when the the WM ceases to exist, your act of thinking ‘has’ no object. But why does that follow, on a reading of ‘has’ which is not existentially loaded?

There is no puzzle of Intentionality. Just think it through.

On the strange idea of proving Meinong wrong, what exactly are we supposed to prove? See p.124 where I point out that there must be a sense of “some A is a B,” which is inconsistent with “nothing is a B”, otherwise logic would collapse.

Can I prove that “something is a B” contradicts “nothing is a B”? In order to do so, I would have to explain the meaning of “something is a B” and “nothing is a B”. To do that, I would have to explain the meaning of ‘contradict’, and so on. If we have done this, there is no need for proving anything.

Brightly understands.

[...] there must be a sense of “some A is a B,” which is inconsistent with “nothing is a B” [...]

Meinong defuses (or, at least, tries to defuse) a similar paradox in Über Gegenstandtheorie. He agrees, but distinguishes 'are' in the existentially loaded and non-existentially loaded senses (hence his introduction of 'Aussersein', his distinctions between Sosein, Sein, and Nichtsein, and so on.) Bill allows for similar distinctions when he talks about items as opposed to things or entities.

s/b "non existentially", not 'non-existentially'

So to summarise the discussion so far. The doctrine of Reference and Identity is that empty names can refer. That is because the verb phrase ‘refers to’ is intentional. That is, “S refers to N” is consistent with “there is no such thing as N”. Contrast with “S touches N” which implies there is such a thing as N.

Note I have not used the verb ‘exists’ in this formulation, so Meinong’s position is irrelevant.

Do you see any problem with that position?

On the fallacy, I hold that the inference “S Ri N” to “there is such a thing as N” is fallacious, where ‘Ri’ is an intentional verb phrase. That is because, by definition, “S Ri N” is consistent with “there is no such thing as N”, if Ri is an intentional verb phrase, and because it is fallacious to infer q from p when p is consistent with ~q. That is a basic logical principle. Do you agree?

The text of Meinong is a fertile ground for locating the intentionalist fallacy. I only have the English, but he writes (The Theory of Objects, transl. Chisholm):

… the lively interest in reality which is part of our nature tends to favour that exaggeration which finds the non-real a mere nothing – or, more precisely, which finds the non-real to be something for which science has no application or at least no application of any worth

Note the verb phrase finds. Can I find a book when there are no books? Can I find treasure where there is no treasure? And so on. ‘Find’ is practically the paradigm of an existentional, non-intentional verb phrase. There are many other examples around that passage.

But now, Ostrich, you've argued in a circle. Bill said:

>>because to have a referent is to have an existing referent.<< You dogmatically assert that, but you need to show that no referent is a nonexisting referent. Prove that Meinong is wrong. If you can't prove that, your 'intentional fallacy' is just a rhetorical cheap shot.

You replied by pointing out 'intentional fallacies' in "The Theory of Objects". You can't prove a thesis by simply insisting on it and forcing it down Meinongians' throats.

Note the verb phrase finds. Can I find a book when there are no books? Can I find treasure where there is no treasure? And so on. ‘Find’ is practically the paradigm of an existentional, non-intentional verb phrase. There are many other examples around that passage.

Clearly Meinong disagrees. You're doing exactly what he complains about in the essay.

I've just realized that the questions here were for me (possibly, at least):

So to summarise the discussion so far. The doctrine of Reference and Identity is that empty names can refer. That is because the verb phrase ‘refers to’ is intentional. That is, “S refers to N” is consistent with “there is no such thing as N”. Contrast with “S touches N” which implies there is such a thing as N.

Note I have not used the verb ‘exists’ in this formulation, so Meinong’s position is irrelevant.

Do you see any problem with that position?

On the fallacy, I hold that the inference “S Ri N” to “there is such a thing as N” is fallacious, where ‘Ri’ is an intentional verb phrase. That is because, by definition, “S Ri N” is consistent with “there is no such thing as N”, if Ri is an intentional verb phrase, and because it is fallacious to infer q from p when p is consistent with ~q. That is a basic logical principle. Do you agree?

I'll reply later tonight.

Oz,

So to summarise the discussion so far. The doctrine of Reference and Identity is that empty names can refer. That is because the verb phrase ‘refers to’ is intentional. That is, “S refers to N” is consistent with “there is no such thing as N”. Contrast with “S touches N” which implies there is such a thing as N.

Note I have not used the verb ‘exists’ in this formulation, so Meinong’s position is irrelevant.

Your view is that 'empty names can refer', which assumes that there are empty names. Meinong's is that there are no empty names. Hence, Meinong's view is relevant to your view. (I wonder if you're be using 'empty names' in an existentially presumptive way; in other words, in a way that assumes that a name is empty if it doesn't refer to an existing item. Are you? In this case, Meinong agrees that "empty names" can refer, but thinks they do so by referring to items that don't exist; presumably, you and he still disagree here in so far as you think "empty names" can refer even if all items are existing items and he doesn't think this is the case.)

s/b "if you're using"

>Cyrus: “Meinong's [view] is that there are no empty names.”

Is that really his view? Does that view contradict the view that there are some empty names? Consider that for a few seconds, or longer.

>Cyrus: “I wonder if you're using 'empty names' in an existentially presumptive way

Crudely, a name ‘N’ is empty when “there is no such thing as N” is true. Crudely, because we need to specify the sense in which the name is used. E.g. there is such thing as Jupiter (the planet), but no such thing as Jupiter (the god).

>Cyrus: Clearly Meinong disagrees [with the claim that ‘find’ is existentially loaded]. You're doing exactly what he complains about in the essay.

The disagreement is about the meaning of ordinary language. We use the verb ‘find’, also the verb ‘touch’ in a way that “The police found some money in the dead man’s wallet” is inconsistent with “no money was in the dead man’s wallet.” Perhaps German is different, but I doubt it. So what is Meinong complaining about? That absolutely everyone is using English, or German, in the wrong way?

Oz,

Is that really his view?

I'm no Meinong scholar (I've just started reading what he himself actually wrote recently), but I get the impression that he thinks all names refer (except maybe some species of nonsense, e.g. 'the water painted with therefore'?). Yes.

Does that view contradict the view that there are some empty names? Consider that for a few seconds, or longer.

I suppose it must. (I'm not even sure, on Meinong's view, that there can be empty names. Perhaps certain kinds of nonsense?) Meinong even goes so far as to claim objects lacking being needn't obey the law of non-contradiction.

I'm happy for Bill (or someone else more familiar with Meinong) to correct me on any of this.

>Cyrus: “I wonder if you're using 'empty names' in an existentially presumptive way

Crudely, a name ‘N’ is empty when “there is no such thing as N” is true. Crudely, because we need to specify the sense in which the name is used. E.g. there is such thing as Jupiter (the planet), but no such thing as Jupiter (the god).

So it's as I suspected.

The disagreement is about the meaning of ordinary language. We use the verb ‘find’, also the verb ‘touch’ in a way that “The police found some money in the dead man’s wallet” is inconsistent with “no money was in the dead man’s wallet.” Perhaps German is different, but I doubt it. So what is Meinong complaining about? That absolutely everyone is using English, or German, in the wrong way?

Why think Meinong is using 'find' in an ordinary way here? The quotation is from a hifalutin metaphysics paper in which the author is groping around the roots of being and at the limits of intelligibility. Perhaps (as many metaphysicians have maintained for hundreds of years) sometimes we need to use words in non-ordinary ways when we're doing this. (I suspect I already know how you feel about this.)

1. There are no empty names
2. Empty names do not exist
3. Some names (namely the non-existent ones) are empty
4. Contradiction (1, 3)

Either this is (1) “groping around the roots of being and at the limits of intelligibility” or (2) fallacy of equivocation.

>>I suspect I already know how you feel about this.)

Yes quite. It’s a debate that is more than a thousand years old. Is philosophy ‘metaphysics’ i.e. digging deep into the heart of being, or is it playground word-puzzles?

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