You might have recently read online that a mining team in Serbia came across a rock with precisely the same chemical name as Kryptonite, the fictional rock from the Superman comics. So did they find Kryptonite? ‘Well of course not,’ you say. ‘The thing doesn’t exist.’ But then this question arises: To what do you refer when you say of this object “Kryptonite,” that it does not exist?
After all, I can point to it. Well, perhaps not with a finger, but when I say the name “Kryptonite,” you know what I mean: That there is something there that I am singling out; something to which I refer, and it is this thing, we are saying, that doesn’t exist. But how can there be something there that doesn’t exist? Does the name Kryptonite, have a referent?
Here’s how a Meinongian might respond.
(1) We have intentional states (e.g. ‘fear’) only if there is some real object responsible for that intentional state (e.g. fear of a dog).
(2) We have intentional states about Kryptonite (e.g. we admire Kryptonite).
(3) No non-Kryptonite entity is responsible for the intentional state e.g. of my admiring Kryptonite.
(4) Therefore, there is a real entity Kryptonite.
Now to back-pedal a bit, I should say that the Meinogian will parse the “is” in that last proposition as “subsists” and not “exists”, but for now, that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that when we say the name Kryptonite, the Meinongian argues that it does refer to a real object and not something merely the figment of our imagination.