Revisiting the ‘Wrong Kind of Object’ Problem


Merel Semeijn and Edward N. Zalta


Organon F, 28(1) (2021): 168–197.


Any uniform semantic treatment of fictional names (e.g., ‘Frodo”) across parafictional statements (e.g., “In \textit{The Lord of the Rings}, Frodo was born in the Shire”) and metafictional statements (e.g., “Frodo was invented by Tolkien”) runs into a variation of the ‘wrong kind of object’ problem. The problem arises when an analysis of one of these statements inappropriately attributes a property to an object. For example, it would be problematic if an analysis implied that flesh and blood individuals are invented by someone, and similarly problematic if an analysis implied that abstract objects are born in a certain region. Abstract object theory has provided a solution to this conundrum by distinguishing two modes of predication: encoding and exemplifying. Recently Klauk has argued that the problem reappears for the analysis of explicit parafictional statements in this theory. In this paper we formalize the objection and show that one can distinguish three issues in connection with the `wrong kind of object' problem. We then address them in turn.

[Author's preprint available online in PDF]