Is Reference Borrowing a Causal Process?

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):41-49 (2006)
In this paper I question Devitt and Sterelny’s proposal that reference borrowing is a causal process and that the reference borrower is ignorant about the referent.I argue that borrowers need to have some true beliefs about the referent. If so, reference borrowing involves a causal chain of communication together with some associated description. The conclusion is that what is needed for reference borrowing of other kind terms is also needed for the natural kind terms. There is no need to posit a difference between the two. Thus as you cannot refer to daggers by ‘dagger’ unless you realize that they are edged weapons, so you cannot refer to tigers by ‘tiger’ unless you realize that they are animals of a certain sort. The theory of reference borrowing that we need here in both cases seems to be descriptive-causal and not only causal.If the traditional views of borrowing have demanded too much of individual speakers, the causal picture surely demands too little. Mere causal connection with some antecedent tradition of name use does not suffice for the preservation of reference
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DOI croatjphil20066131
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