Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 48, 1994

Alberto Voltolini
Pages 75-104

Ficta versus Possibilia

Although both belong to the domain of the nonexistent, there is an ontological distinction between ficta and possibilia. Ficta are a particular kind of abstract objects, namely constructed abstract objects which generically depend on authors for their subsistence. Moreover, they are essentially incomplete entities, in that they are correlates of finite sets of properties. - On the other hand, possibilia are concrete objects. Being a possible object is indeed being an entity that might have existed, that is, that might have been involved in the causal order. Besides, as an object existent in this sense may legitimately be qualified as complete, the incompleteness which pertains to possible objects is contingent, in that it regards them only with respect to the possible worlds in which they do not exist. This ontological distinction has a semantic correlate: whereas names for possibilia are full-fledged directly referential terms, names for ficta are synonymous with de facto rigid descriptions of a complex sort.