Reference in Conceptual Realism

Synthese 114 (2):169-202 (1998)
Abstract
A conceptual theory of the referential and predicable concepts used in basic speech and mental acts is described in which singular and general, complex and simple, and pronominal and nonpronominal, referential concepts are given a uniform account. The theory includes an intensional realism in which the intensional contents of predicable and referential concepts are represented through nominalized forms of the predicate and quantifier phrases that stand for those concepts. A central part of the theory distinguishes between active and deactivated referential concepts, where the latter are represented by nominalized quantifier phrases that occur as parts of complex predicates. Peter Geach's arguments against theories of general reference in Reference and Generality are used as a foil to test the adequacy of the theory. Geach's arguments are shown to either beg the question of general as opposed to singular reference or to be inapplicable because of the distinction between active and deactivated referential concepts.
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