, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 305-307

Truths about non-existent things

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Nominalists resist the apparent ontological commitments of our ordinary ways of talking about entities such as universals, possibilia, sets and numbers. And they go on to deny that such things exist. What is striking and original about Azzouni’s nominalism is his assertion that there are not merely general truths about non-existent items (e.g. ‘Dragons do not exist’) but singular ones as well (e.g. ‘Sherlock Holmes…[is] even more famous than the number π’) (215). In this book, he argues for this thesis in three important cases, numbers (chapter one), hallucinations (chapter two) and the characters and other things occurring in works of fiction (chapter three). In all three cases, he argues that singular truths about non-existent things do not have truth-makers but instead have truth-inducers, involving complex human practices. He is at pains, however, to distinguish his position from that of Meinongians, such as Ed Zalta (Abstract objects, Reidel 1983), who associate properties with no