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Abstract

In the recent literature on all things metaontological, discussion of a notorious Meinongian doctrine—the thesis that some objects have no kind of being at all—has been conspicuous by its absence. And this is despite the fact that this thesis is the central element of the noneist metaphysics of Richard Routley (1980) and Graham Priest (2005). In this paper, we therefore examine the metaontological foundations of noneism, with a view to seeing exactly how the noneist's approach to ontological inquiry differs from the orthodox Quinean one. We proceed by arguing that the core anti-Quinean element in noneism has routinely been misidentified: rather than concerning Quine's thesis that to be is to be the value of a variable, the real difference is that the noneist rejects what we identify as Quine's “translate-and-deflate” methodology. In rejecting this aspect of Quinean orthodoxy, the noneist is in good company: many of those who think that questions of fundamentality should be the proper focus of ontological inquiry can be read as rejecting it too. Accordingly, we then examine the differences between the noneist's conception of ontology and that offered by the fundamentalist. We argue that these two anti-Quinean approaches differ in terms of their respective conceptions of the theoretical role associated with the notion of being. And the contrast that emerges between them is, in the end, an explanatory one.