Tyler Burge convinced us that names are predicates in at least some of their occurrences: -/- There are relatively few Alfreds in Princeton. -/- Names, when predicates, satisfy the being-called condition: schematically, a name "N" is true of a thing just in case that thing is called N. This paper defends the unified view that names are predicates in all of their occurrences. I follow Clarence Sloat, Paul Elbourne, and Ora Matushansky in saying that when a name seems to occur (...) bare in an argument position of a predicate, it is really occurring in the predicate position of a definite description with an unpronounced "the". I call these "denuded definite descriptions". There are good linguistic reasons for defending the denuded-definites view. For example, it explains why "the" cannot be dropped in a sentence like the following: -/- The ever-popular Bill will be speaking this afternoon; The taller Maria is downstairs. -/- The definite article occuring before a name doesn't get pronounced when it's right next to the name. In technical terms, it gets smushed together with it. But the smushing can't happen when another phrase intervenes. The view survives philosophical objections. Denuded definite descriptions with names are incomplete definite descriptions since most names have mutliple bearers. Incomplete definite descriptions are in general rigid, though. So the view survives Kripke's modal argument. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: If an event of one kind does not always lead to an event of a second given kind, it does not follow (of course) that the occurrence of an event of the first kind can never explain the occurrence of an event of the second kind. I’m concerned here with cases of belief. In the service of defending a plausible “boundary-shifting” solution to the sorites paradox, I argue that a certain paradoxical belief(in the universally-generalized premise of the sorites paradox) (...) can be explained by our having reasonable beliefs that entail it (beliefs in the instances of that generalization). Some have argued against boundary-shifting solutions on the grounds that beliefs in instances do not always lead to beliefs in generalizations over those instances. I argue that the objection flounders. An event of one kind can explain an event of another kind even if events of the first kind do not always lead to events of the second kind. One does not impugn an explanation merely by pointing to its defeasibility. (shrink)
A report of a person's desire can be true even if its embedded clause underspecifies the content of the desire that makes the report true. It is true that Fiona wants to catch a fish even if she has no desire that is satisfied if she catches a poisoned minnow. Her desire is satisfied only if she catches an edible, meal-sized fish. The content of her desire is more specific than the propositional content of the embedded clause in our true (...) report of her desires. Standard semantic accounts of belief reports require, however, that the embedded clause of a true belief report specify precisely the content of the belief that makes it true. Such accounts of belief reports therefore face what I call "the problem of underspecification" if they are extended to desire reports. Such standard accounts are sometimes refined by requiring that a belief report can be true not only if its subject has a belief with precisely the propositional content specified by its embedded clause, but also only if its subject grasps that content in a particular way. Such refinements do not, however, help to address the problem of underspecification for desire reports. (shrink)
This paper is an informal presentation of the ideas presented formally in (”Relative-Sameness Counterpart Theory”. Relative-sameness relations -- such as being the same person as -- are like David Lewis’s “counterpart” relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold over time or across worlds between objects that aren’t cross-time or cross-world identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in different contexts. They differ from his counterpart relations, however, (...) in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis’s Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005). The use of sameness as opposed to similarity relations in the analysis of de-re temporal and modal predication renders the resulting truth conditions as statable in terms that proponents of Kripke’s identity-based analysis can accept. (shrink)
In this paper I trace Quine's early development of his treatment of names, first as abbreviations for definite descriptions with "Frege-Rusell" style substantive content, then as abbreviations for definite descriptions containing simple predicative content, through to a treatment of names themselves as predicates rather than as abbreviations for this or that type of more complex expression. Along the way, I explain why—despite ubiquitous claims and suggestions to the contrary—Quine never actually uses the verbized name "Socratizes".
In this paper I criticize a version of supervaluation semantics. This version is called "Region-Valuation" semantics. It's developed by Pablo Cobreros. I argue that all supervaluationists, regionalists in particular, and truth-value gap theorists of vagueness more generally, are commited to the validity of D-intro, the principle that every sentence entails its definitization (the truth of "Paul is tall" guarantees the truth of "Paul is definitely tall"). The principle embroils one in a paradox that's distinct from, but related to, the sorites (...) paradox. I call it the "gap-principles paradox". -/- . (shrink)
In this paper I argue that names are predicates when they occur in the appellation position of 'called'-predications. This includes not only proper names, but all names -- including quote-names of proper names and quote-names of other words or phrases. Thus in "You can call me Al", the proper name 'Al' is a predicate. And in "You can call me 'Al'," the quote-name of 'Al' -- namely ' 'Al' ' -- is also a predicate.
If a counterpart theorist's understanding of the counterpart relation precludes haecceitist differences between possible worlds, as David Lewis's does, how can he admit haecceitist possibilities, as Lewis wants to? Lewis (Philosophical Review 3-32, 1983; On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986) devised what he called a 'cheap substitute for haecceitism,' which would allow for haecceitist possibilities while preserving the counterpart relation as a purely qualitative one. The solution involved lifting an earlier (Journal of Philosophy 65(5): 113-126, 1968; 68(7): 203-211, 1971) ban (...) on there being multiple intra-world counterparts. I argue here that serious problems for 'cheap haecceitism' lurk very close to its surface, and they emerge when we consider the effect of using an actuality operator in our language. Among the most serious of the problems is the result that being the case in some possible world does not always suffice for possibly being the case. The result applies to any counterpart theory that employs a purely qualitative counterpart relation. The upshot is that if we are to admit haecceitist possibilities, as we should, then we must reject any purely qualitative relation as the one involved in the analysis of what might have been for an individual. (shrink)
In “Descriptions as Predicates” (Fara 2001) I argued that definite and indefinite descriptions should be given a uniform semantic treatment as predicates rather than as quantifier phrases. The aim of the current paper is to clarify and elaborate one of the arguments for the descriptions-aspredicates view, one that concerns the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification.
According to James McCawley (1981) and Richard Larson and Gabriel Segal (1995), the following sentence is three-ways ambiguous: -/- Harry wants to be the mayor of Kenai. -/- According to them also, the three-way ambiguity cannot be accommodated on the Russellian view that definite descriptions are quantified noun phrases. In order to capture the three-way ambiguity of the sentence, these authors propose that definite descriptions must be ambiguous: sometimes they are predicate expressions; sometimes they are Russellian quantified noun phrases. After (...) explaining why the McCawley-Larson-Segal solution contains an obvious flaw, I discuss how an effort to correct the flaw brings to light certain puzzles about the individuation of desires, about quantifying in, and about the disambiguation of desire ascriptions. (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to widespread philosophical opinion, phenomenal indiscriminability is transitive. For if it were not transitive, we would be precluded from accepting the truisms that if two things look the same then the way they look is the same and that if two things look the same then if one looks red, so does the other. Nevertheless, it has seemed obvious to many philosophers (e.g. Goodman, Armstrong and Dummett) that phenomenal indiscriminability is not transitive; and, moreover, that this (...) non-transitivity is straightforwardly revealed to us in experience. I show this thought to be wrong. All inferences from the character of our experience to the non-transitivity of indiscriminability involve either a misunderstanding of continuity, a mistaken interpretation of the idea that we have limited powers of discrimination, or tendentious claims about what our experience is really like; or such inferences are based on inadequately supported premisses, which though individually plausible are jointly implausible. (shrink)
I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.