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In J. Hill & P. Kot'attko (eds.), Karlovy Vary Studies in Reference and Meaning. Filosofia. 258-285 (1995)
Abstract
Insofar as the so-called new theory of reference has come to be acknowleged as the leading theoretical paradigm in semantic research, it has been widely accepted that proper names directly refer to their designation. In advancing some of the most convincing arguments in favour of this view of names, S. Kripke has however left somehow undecided what the role of context is in determining which is the direct referent for a name. According to one interpretation of his thought, context has only an external task in allowing one to simultaneously select a name and a given referent for it. Although this interpretation is the most faithful to Kripke's own intentions, there is another possible interpretation of what he says, according to which context more significantly permits one to determine a given referent at a time for one and the same name1. This different interpretation of the role of context is not marginal for the purpose of semantics, since it generates two distinct theoretical conceptions of what a proper name is. According to the former, the 'idiosyncratic' conception, proper names are individuated (at least) by their form and bearer. According to the latter, the 'linguistic' conception, they are individuated by their morphology only: i.e., by their being (syntactically) unstructured strings of letters. The two conceptions prove to be substantially different when homonyms are called into play. Insofar as both the Greek philosopher and the famous shipowner are called "Aristotle", we have two distinct, albeit homonymous, names for the idiosyncratic conception but only one name (as applied to two distinct individuals) for the linguistic conception2. In what follows, I will first sketch one of the most recent attempts to support for the idiosyncratic view, namely the one which traces back to Kaplan [1990] theory of words, and recall its merits over its cognate idiosyncratic theories. I will then try to give an argument in favour of the linguistic conception, by pointing out how the latter....
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