Philosophical Studies

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 139–146 | Cite as

Fictional objects, non-existence, and the principle of characterization



I advance an objection to Graham Priest’s account of fictional entities as nonexistent objects. According to Priest, fictional characters do not have, in our world, the properties they are represented as having; for example, the property of being a bank clerk is possessed by Joseph K. not in our world but in other worlds. Priest claims that, in this way, his theory can include an unrestricted principle of characterization for objects. Now, some representational properties attributed to fictional characters, a kind of fictional entities, involve a crucial reference to the world in which they are supposed to be instantiated. I argue that these representational properties are problematic for Priest’s theory and that he cannot accept an unrestricted version of the principle of characterization. Thus, while not refuting Priest’s theory, I show that it is no better off than other Meinongian theories.


Fictional objects Non-existence Principle of characterization Graham priest Noneism Fiction Possible worlds 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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