Proper Names and their Fictional Uses

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):707 - 726 (2011)
Abstract
Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of proper names, challenges strong enough to warrant an account of names different from the standard treatment. The theory developed in this paper is motivated by a puzzle that depends on four assumptions: our intuitive assessment of the truth values of certain sentences, the most straightforward treatment of their syntactic structure, semantic compositionality, and metaphysical scruples strong enough to rule out fictional entities, at least. It is shown that these four assumptions, taken together, are inconsistent with referentialism, the common view that names are uniformly associated with ordinary individuals as their semantic value. Instead, the view presented here interprets names as context-sensitive expressions, associated in a context of utterance with a particular act of introduction, or dubbing, which is then used to determine their semantic value. Some dubbings are referential, which associate names with ordinary individuals as their semantic values; others are fictional, which associate names, instead, with sets of properties. Since the semantic values of names can be of different sorts, the semantic rule interpreting predication must be complex as well. In the body of the paper, I show how this new treatment of names allows us to solve our original puzzle. I defend the complexity of the semantic predication rule, and address additional worries about ontological commitment
Keywords Reference  Proper names  Fictional names  Empty names
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References found in this work BETA
Nuel Belnap (1993). On Rigorous Definitions. Philosophical Studies 72 (2-3):115 - 146.
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Gregory Currie (1988). Fictional Names. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (4):471 – 488.
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Yu Izumi (2008). Some Remarks on an Implementation of the Burgean View of Proper Names. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:79-88.
David S. Schwarz (1978). Causality, Referring, and Proper Names. Linguistics and Philosophy 2 (2):225 - 233.
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