Recanati, Descriptive Names, and the Prospect of New Knowledge

The immediate purpose of this note is to provide counterexamples to François Recanati’s claim in Direct Reference that descriptive names (a name whose reference is fixed by an attributive definite description) are created with the expectation that we will be able to think of the referent nondescriptively at some point in the future. The larger issue is how to reconcile the existence of descriptive names with the theoretical commitments Recanati takes direct reference to have. The point of the claim about the expectation of future knowledge of the referent is to make it plausible that uses of descriptive names are not literal, since a literal use ought to express a singular proposition rather than one involving a descriptive mode of presentation; it is argued that this route to reconciliation will not work
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_2001_2
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Edward Kanterian (2009). Puzzles About Descriptive Names. Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (4):409-428.

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