The invariance of sense

Journal of Philosophy 103 (3):111-144 (2006)
Abstract
How many senses can a given name have, with its reference held fixed? One, more than one? One answer that most would agree to is that sense is unique for each utterance of a name, that is, that a name can have no more than one sense on any given occasion. But is sense unique in any stronger sense than this? The answer that is typically attributed to Frege is that there is not, that, as Tyler Burge puts it, 1 Frege “treats proper names as having different senses while applying to the same person.” There are a number of possibilities for the locus of this multiplicity of sense; the following remark by Ruth Marcus indicates the possibilities: “the sense of a term is whatever is grasped or understood by a speaker on a particular occasion of use and may vary from occasion to occasion as well as from speaker to speaker.”2 Of the views canvassed by Marcus, we can draw out a more conservative one, and one more extreme. On the more conservative view, Frege is holding that sense may vary from speaker to speaker; on the more extreme view, Frege holds not only this, but that sense may vary from context to context. Endorsements of the two views are not hard to find. For example, typical sorts of endorsement of the conservative view are found in Harold Noonan’s remark that “different senses [are] associated with the name ‘Aris-.
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Jeff Speaks (2010). Millian Descriptivism Defended. Philosophical Studies 149 (2):201 - 208.
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