© 2013

Existence as a Real Property

The Ontology of Meinongianism

  • A comprehensive introduction to the notion of existence – arguably, the most important concept of ontology and metaphysics

  • Introduces both mainstream and non-standard theories within the philosophical debate on existence

  • Adopts a meta-ontological viewpoint and develops an original neo-Meinongian theory


Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 356)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Existence as Logic

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Francesco Berto
      Pages 3-16
    3. Francesco Berto
      Pages 17-36
    4. Francesco Berto
      Pages 37-58
  3. Nonexistence

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 59-59
    2. Francesco Berto
      Pages 61-83
    3. Francesco Berto
      Pages 85-113
  4. Close Encounters (with Nonexistents) of the Third Kind

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 153-153
    2. Francesco Berto
      Pages 155-171
    3. Francesco Berto
      Pages 173-189
    4. Francesco Berto
      Pages 191-229
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 231-241

About this book


This profound exploration of one of the core notions of philosophy—the concept of existence itself—reviews, then counters (via Meinongian theory), the mainstream philosophical view running from Hume to Frege, Russell, and Quine, summarized thus by Kant: “Existence is not a predicate.” The initial section of the book presents a comprehensive introduction to, and critical evaluation of, this mainstream view. The author moves on to provide the first systematic survey of all the main Meinongian theories of existence, which, by contrast, reckon existence to be a real, full-fledged property of objects that some things possess, and others lack. As an influential addition to the research literature, the third part develops the most up-to-date neo-Meinongian theory called Modal Meinongianism, applies it to specific fields such as the ontology of fictional objects, and discusses its open problems, laying the groundwork for further research.

In accordance with the latest trends in analytic ontology, the author prioritizes a meta-ontological viewpoint, adopting a dual definition of meta-ontology as the discourse on the meaning of being, and as the discourse on the tools and methods of ontological enquiry. This allows a balanced assessment of philosophical views on a cost-benefit basis, following multiple criteria for theory evaluation. Compelling and revealing, this new publication is a vital addition to contemporary philosophical ontology.


Analytic Ontology Existence Existence logic Existential Philosophy Fundamental Ontology Hume existence Impossible Worlds Kant existence Kripke existence Meinongian Meinongianism Meta-ontology Metaphysics Metaphysics ontology Modal Meinongianism Ontology Metaphysics Parmenides existence Philosophy Existence Philosophy of Quantification Plato existence Quine existence Russell existence

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1., Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information


“This book is marvellous and unique in its content. The book will discuss one of the main notions in philosophy – the concept of existence. … this is an excellent book and I recommend it to your personal library if you are a graduate student and/or researcher working in ontology. It is written by one of the greatest authorities in the field and it is a complete work.” (Philosophy, Religion and Science, June, 2016)Concise yet comprehensive, Francesco Berto's study of Meinongian logic, semantics, and the object theory interpretation of existence, admirably covers the recent history and breaks new ground in its subject. Readable and well-researched, Berto's book provides an elegant field guide to basic concepts in Meinong scholarship, partnered with a phenomenologically motivated commitment to a referential domain of beingless alongside existent dynamic and abstract intended objects.

Dale Jacquette, Universität Bern

Institut für Philosophie

Berto’s book is a passionate defence of the old-fashioned yet for a long while discredited idea that existence is a first-order property that some individual possess while some others – past and future objects, intentional objects, fictional objects … - lack. Berto refreshens this idea by providing new intriguing arguments against its detractors and by developing what he calls Modal Meinongianism, a theory originally presented by Graham Priest. Noone interested in logico-semantical and ontological issues should refrain from carefully reading this book.

Alberto Voltolini

Department of Philosophy and Education Sciences, University of Turin