The meaning of names and their propositional context

Cogito 9 (2):153-157 (1995)
Michael Durrant’s rejection is examined of Frege’s and Wittgenstein’s thesis that a name has meaning only in the context of a proposition (the Context Principle). Durrant argues that in two ways the Context Principle makes it impossible for a hearer to determine the meaning of a name, for such identification would involve both an infinite regress and a vicious circle of reasoning. I reply that a finite (rather than infinite) set of propositions could suffice; and that making corrigible assumptions allows people to believe propositions and thus to understand names ahead of knowing what the propositions are about. Durrant’s arguments, then, are inconclusive. Since, however, names can be bestowed and their meanings learned in and through acts of nonpropositional naming, then, unless special senses of ‘name’ and‘proposition’ are intended, the Context Principle is false
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