The Syntax and Pragmatics of The Naming Relation

Philosophers of language have lavished attention on names and other singular referring expressions. But they have focused primarily on what might be called lexicalsemantic character of names and have largely ignored both what I call the lexicalsyntactic character of names and also what I call the pragmatic significance of the naming relation. Partly as a consequence, explanatory burdens have mistakenly been heaped upon semantics that properly belong elsewhere. This essay takes some steps toward correcting these twin lacunae. When we properly distinguish that which belongs to the lexical-syntactic character of names, from that which belongs to the lexical semantic character of names, from that which rests on the pragmatics of the naming relation, we lay to rest many misbegotten claims about names and their presumed semantic behavior. For example, though many believe that Frege’s puzzle about the possibility of informative identity statements motivates a move away from a referentialist semantics for names, I argue that the very possibility of Frege cases has its source not in facts about the lexical-semantic character of names but in facts about the lexical-syntax of the naming relation. If I am right, Frege cases as such are insufficient to justify the introduction of the distinction between sense and reference. In a similar vein, I offer a new diagnosis of the widely misdiagnosed felt invalidity of the substitution of coreferring names within propositional attitude contexts. That felt invalidity has been taken 1 to justify the conclusion that an embedded referring expression must be playing some semantic role either different from or additional to its customary semantic role of standing for its reference. I argue, to the contrary, that failures of substitutivity have their source not in the peculiar semantic behavior of embedded expressions but entirely in certain pragmatic principles.
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