The essence of reference

In Ernest Lepore & Barry Smith (eds.), he Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Language. OUP Oxford (2008)
People use words and concepts to refer to things. There are agents who refer, there are acts of referring, and there are tools to refer with: words and concepts. Reference is a relation between people and things, and also between words or concepts and things, and perhaps it involves all three things at once. It is not just any relation between an action or word and a thing; the list of things which can refer, people, words and concepts, is probably not complete ; and a complete account would need to speak of cases in which the reference relation seems to involve three terms in a different way from the one already mentioned. In the philosophy of language, it has been customary to think of reference as a two-place relation, with some object as the second term and a word or phrase as the first.
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DOI 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199552238.003.0018
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