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Talking About Nothing
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Talking About Nothing: Numbers, Hallucinations and Fictions

Jody Azzouni

Abstract

Ordinary language and scientific language enable us to speak about, in a singular way (with demonstratives and names), what we recognize not to exist: fictions, the contents of our hallucinations, abstract objects, and various idealized nonexistent objects to which our scientific theories more conveniently apply. Indeed, references to such nonexistent items—especially in the case of the application of mathematics to the sciences—are indispensable. Scientific and ordinary languages allow us to say things about Pegasus or about hallucinated objects that are true (or false) such as “Pegasus was b ... More

Keywords: demonstratives, direct reference, singular idioms, nonexistence, truth, literary fiction, hallucination, indispensability, ontological commitment, scientific fictions

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780199738946
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738946.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jody Azzouni, author
Tufts University
Author Webpage