Abstract object theory

Abstract object theory, also known as abstract theory, is a branch of metaphysics regarding abstract objects. Originally devised by metaphysicist Edward Zalta in 1999,[1] the theory was an expansion of mathematical Platonism. One who studies abstract object theory is called an abstract theorist.

Abstract Objects: An Introduction to Axiomatic Metaphysics is the title of a publication by Edward Zalta that outlines abstract object theory.[2]

On Zalta's account, some objects (the ordinary concrete ones around us, like tables and chairs) "exemplify" properties, while others (abstract objects like numbers, and what others would call "non-existent objects", like the round square, and the mountain made entirely of gold) merely "encode" them.[3] While the objects that exemplify properties are discovered through traditional empirical means, a simple set of axioms allows us to know about objects that encode properties.[4] For every set of properties, there is exactly one object that encodes exactly that set of properties and no others.[5] This allows for a formalized ontology.

See also


  1. "The Theory of Abstract Objects". February 10, 1999. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  2. Zalta, Edward N. Abstract Objects: An Introduction to Axiomatic Metaphysics. D. Reidel Publishing Company. 1983.
  3. Edward N. Zalta, Abstract Objects, 33.
  4. Edward N. Zalta, Abstract Objects, 36.
  5. Edward N. Zalta, Abstract Objects, 35.
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