Does the English demonstrative pronoun 'that' (including complex demonstratives of the form 'that F') have sense and reference? Unlike many other philosophers of language, Frege answers with a resounding 'No'. He held that the bearer of sense and reference is a so-called 'hybrid propername' (Künne) that contains the demonstrative pronoun and specific circumstances of utterance such as glances and acts of pointing. In this paper I provide arguments for the thesis that demonstratives are hybrid proper names. (...) After outlining why Frege held the hybrid propername view, I will defend it against recent criticism, and argue that it is superior to views that take demonstrative pronouns to be the bearer of semantic properties. (shrink)
A strictly Millian approach to proper names is defended, i.e. one in which expressions when used properly ('onymically') refer directly, i.e. without the semantic intermediaryship of the words that appear to comprise them. The approach may appear self-evident for names which appear to have no component parts (in current English) but less so for others. Two modes of reference are distinguished for potentially ambiguous expressions such as The Long Island . A consequence of this distinction is to allow a (...) speculative neurolinguistics of proper ('onymic') and semantic ('non-onymic') reference. A further consequence is that translation of onymically referring expressions is impossible (since they have no semantic content), and some apparently self-evident objections to this view are met by insisting on a distinction between a propername as a referring expression and its etymology. The nature of the linguistic mechanism(s) by which an expression becomes proper (i.e. loses sense) shows that etymological opacity is a precondition for the survival of words in certain proper names, furnishing evidence for reference without sense. The process of becoming proper amounts to abrogation of sense for the purpose of reference, which is precisely the requirement for a systematic defence of Mill. (shrink)
Gareth Evans (1973) adduces a case in which a propername apparently undergoes a change in referent. ‘Madagascar’ was originally the name of a part of Africa. Marco Polo, erroneously thinking he was following native usage, applied the name to an island off the African coast. Today ‘Madagascar’ is the name of that island. Evans argues that this kind of case threatens Kripke’s picture of naming as developed in Naming and Necessity. (...) According to this picture, the name, as used by Marco Polo, referred to a part of the African mainland, since he was connected to the latter by a historical chain of communication. Since we are historically connected to Marco Polo, the name, as it is used today, still refers to the African mainland. But it doesn’t. The aim of the present paper is to give a conclusive account of the phenomenon adduced by Evans, which is compatible with Kripke’s picture. (shrink)
The article treats the concept of propername in Juri Lotman’s semiotics, taking into account also studies in the same field by other authors of the Tartu-Moscow school (V. Ivanov, B. Ogibenin, V. Toporov, B. Uspenski). Focus is laid at three sub-topics: name and myth, name and text, name and artistic creation. One of the sources of treating propername for both the program article by J. Lotman and B. Uspenski (“Myth — (...) class='Hi'>Name — Culture”), and works by several other semioticians of the Tartu–Moscow school is confidence in the connection between propername and mythical (a-semiotic) thought: semiosis equals here with nomination. Propername plurality, different re-namings affirm the continuing importance of mythical thinking in later culture. Proper names (such as personal names, place names) belong, in addition to natural language, also into a certain individual system, forming thus an interlinguistic layer located on the boundary of language. J. Lotmanstresses that art has a specific power of uniting general and propername (propername characterized here by individuality, explosiveness). An artistic work is even doubly of propername character: both the act of creation and its reception are by nature individual and unrepeated. In the opinion of the authors the treatment of propername by the Tartu-Moscow school contains fruitful and promising standpoints for the analysis of contemporary culture that, however, have been applied unjustifiably little. (shrink)
The present article is divided into two parts. Its theoretical introductory part takes under scrutiny how propername has been previously dealt with in linguistics, philosophy and semiotics. The purpose of this short overview is to synthesise different approaches that could be productive in the semiotic analysis of naming practices. Author proposes that proper names should not be seen as a linguistic element or a type of (indexical) signs, but rather as a function that can be carried (...) by different linguistic units. This approach allows us to develop a transdisciplinary basis for a wider understanding of naming as a sociocultural practice. The empirical part of the article uses one certain village in Estonia in Laane-Virumaa district as an example to demonstrate how toponyms structure the social space, how they carry the memory and how naming practice highlights such changes in the semiotic behaviour of the social life that otherwise could have remained hidden. (shrink)
In this article I discuss the role of the immigrant in Swedish society and especially how such a role is construed through what I call the myth of schooling, that is, the normalization of an arbitrary distribution of wealth and power. I relate this myth to the idea of consensual democracy as it is expressed through an implicit idea of what it means to be Swedish. I not only critique the processes through which immigrants are discriminated against or excluded from (...) Swedish society but also try to shift the understanding of the conditions under which such exclusion is possible in the first place. Being Swedish is that which the immigrant is not. What I argue and give examples of is that the 'no name' immigrant becomes a possibility for democracy to happen when he or she claims his or her presence in the demos, in such a way as to make evident a split in the self-understanding of a purely consensual Swedish democracy. In the article I argue that what is needed in order to go beyond the myth of schooling, is a pedagogy of dissensus contesting the normalizing of an unequal social order by making it contingent. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of proper names and indexicals, combining insights from the competing traditions of referentialism, championed by Kripke and Kaplan, and descriptivism, introduced by Frege and Russell, and more recently resurrected by Geurts and Elbourne, among others. From the referentialist tradition, I borrow the proof that names and indexicals are not synonymous to any definite description but pick their referent from the context directly. From the descriptivist tradition, I take the observation that names, and to (...) some extent indexicals, have uses that are best understood by analogy with anaphora and definite descriptions, that is, following Geurts, in terms of presupposition projection. The hybrid analysis that I propose is couched in Layered Discourse Representation Theory. Proper names and indexicals trigger presuppositions in a dedicated layer, which is semantically interpreted as providing a contextual anchor for the interpretation of the other layers. For the proper resolution of DRSs with layered presuppositions, I add two constraints to van der Sandt's algorithm. The resulting proposal accounts for both the classic philosophical examples and the new linguistic data, preserving a unified account of the preferred rigid interpretation of both names and indexicals, while leaving room for non-referential readings under contextual pressure. (shrink)
Since Kripke introduced rigid designation as an alternative to the Frege/Russell analysis of referential terms as definite descriptions, there has been an ongoing debate between 'descriptivists' and 'referentialists', mostly focusing on the semantics of proper names. Nowadays descriptivists can draw on a much richer set of linguistic data (including bound and accommodated proper names in discourse) as well as new semantic machinery (E-type syntax/semantics, DRT, presupposition-as-anaphora) to strengthen their case. After reviewing the current state of the debate, I (...) argue for a referentialist semantics that incorporates some modern insights from the side of the descriptivists in order to account for the new data in a principled fashion. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new, stronger version of the cluster theory of proper names. It introduces a meta-identifying rule that can establish a cluster's main descriptions and explain how they must be satisfied in order to allow the application of a propername. At the same time, it preserves some main insights of the causal-historical view. With the resulting rule we can not only give a more detailed reply to the counter-examples to descriptivism, but also explain the (...) informative contents of proper names and why they are rigid designators in contrast with descriptions.1. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the semantic function of an ordinary propername (e.g. 'Aristotle') is inexplicable in terms of the semantic function of an ordinary definite description (e.g. 'the last great ancient philosopher'), given a Russellian analysis of the latter. This paper questions this belief by suggesting a possible semantic explication. In brief, I propose that an ordinary propername is a mere placeholder for an arbitrary ordinary definite description true of a given individual. The (...) proposal is set out and justified in detail, as well as compared with both traditional description theories of ordinary proper names and the theory that an ordinary propername just means its referent. I contend that the proposed theory is better than the former sort of theory, and at least as good as the latter one. (shrink)
Evolutionary theory has recently been applied to language. The aim of this paper is to contribute to such an evolutionary approach to language. I argue that Kripke’s causal account of proper names, from an ecological point of view, captures the information carried by uses of a propername, which is that a certain object is referred to. My argument appeals to Millikan’s concept of local information, which captures information about the environment useful for an organism.
Unobservable properties that are specific to individuals, such as their proper names, can only be known by people who are familiar with those individuals. Do young children utilize this “familiarity principle” when learning language? Experiment 1 tested whether forty-eight 2- to 4-year-old children were able to determine the referent of a propername such as “Jessie” based on the knowledge that the speaker was familiar with one individual but unfamiliar with the other. Even 2-year-olds successfully identified Jessie (...) as the individual with whom the speaker was familiar. Experiment 2 examined whether children appreciate this principle at a general level, as do adults, or whether this knowledge may be specific to certain word-learning situations. To test this, forty-eight 3- to 5-year-old children were given the converse of the task in Experiment 1—they were asked to determine the individual with whom the speaker was familiar based on the speaker’s knowledge of an individual’s propername. Only 5-year-olds reliably succeeded at this task, suggesting that a general understanding of the familiarity principle is a relatively late developmental accomplishment. (shrink)
According to relativized transcendentalism, the meaning of expressions, consisting in their intension and extension, is provided by a set of (syntactical, semantical and pragmatical) rules which prescribe their correct use in a context. We interpret a linguistic system by fixing a domain (of the values of the variables) and by assigning exactly one object to each individual constant and n-tuples of objects to predicates. The theory says that proper names have a purely referential role and that their meaning is (...) therefore limited to the individual they designate. Since all singular terms must refer to exactly one referent there are no so-called empty names. A propername is defined as a syntactically unstructured term in a language L used in a context C such that the truth condition for a sentence (Φα in L and C consists in the fact that, in accord with the rule which maps items from the set of individual constants into the set of objects, a refers to an object x and x satisfies Φ. It is shown how - by using this theory - puzzling problems concerning Frege's morning star and evening star, allegedly empty names, changes of name etc. can easily be solved. (shrink)
Principally under the influence of Saul Kripke (1972), philosophical semantics since the closing decades of 20th century has been dominated by thephenomenon Nathan Salmon (1986) aptly dubbed Direct Reference “mania.” Accordingly, it is now practically orthodox to hold that the meanings of proper names are entirely exhausted by their referents and devoid of any descriptive content. The return to a purely referential semantics of names has, nevertheless, coincided with a resurgence of some of the very puzzles that motivated description (...) theories of names in the first place, to wit: the informativeness of true identity statements of the form ‘a=b’ and the failure of substitutivity salve veritate for co-referential names in propositional attitude ascriptions. I argue that a Metalinguistic Description Theory of proper names, which treats the meaning of an arbitrary propername as roughly equivalent to the definite description ‘the bearer of NN,’ offers a novel, semantically innocent solution to these puzzles when synthesized with Keith Donnellan’s (1966) insight that descriptions are semantically ambiguous between attributive and referential meanings. The ensuing account is then defended against two well-known Kripkean objections to metalinguisticsemantics: the Circularity Objection and the Paderewski Puzzle. (shrink)
A widely accepted thesis in the philosophy of language is that natural language proper names are rigid designators, and that they are so de jure, or as a matter of the “semantic rules of the language.” This paper questions this claim, arguing that rigidity cannot be plausibly construed as a property of name types and that the alternative, rigidity construed as a property of tokens, means that they cannot be considered rigid de jure; rigidity in this case must (...) be viewed as a pragmatic and not a semantic property. (shrink)
There is a fairly general consensus that names are Millian (or Russellian) genuine terms, that is, are singular terms whose sole semantic function is to introduce a referent into the propositions expressed by sentences containing the term. This answers the question as to what sort of proposition is expressed by use of sentences containing names. But there is a second serious semantic problem about proper names, that of how the referents of proper names are determined. This is the (...) question that I will discuss in this paper. Various views consistent with Millianism have been proposed as to how the semantic referents of proper names are determined. These views can be classified into (1) description theories and (2) causal theories, but they can also be classified into (3) social practice theories, on which a name’s referent is determined by a social practice involving the referent, and (4) individualistic theories, on which the referent of the use of a name is determined by the speaker’s state of mind. Here I argue against social practice theories of the sorts proposed by Kripke and Evans and in favor of an individualistic approach to name reference. I argue that social practice is irrelevant to determining name reference and that, as a consequence, names have no meanings in natural languages. In the second part of the paper I motivate and propose a new form of individualistic theory which incorporates features of both description theories and Evans’s social practice theory. (shrink)
While proper names in argument positions have received a lot of attention, this cannot be said about proper names in the naming construction, as in “Call me Al”. I argue that in a number of more or less familiar languages the syntax of naming constructions is such that proper names there have to be analyzed as predicates, whose content mentions the name itself (cf. “quotation theories”). If proper names can enter syntax as predicates, then in (...) argument positions they should have a complex structure, consisting of a determiner and its restriction, like common nouns (cf. “definite description theories of proper names”). Further consideration of the compositional semantics of proper names in the naming construction also shows that they have another argument slot, that of the naming convention. As a result, we will be able to account for the indexicality of proper names in argument positions and provide compositional semantics of complex and modified proper names (e.g., the famous detective Sherlock Holmes ). (shrink)
Direct reference theorists tell us that proper names have no semantic value other than their bearers, and that the connection between name and bearer is unmediated by descriptions or descriptive information. And yet, these theorists also acknowledge that we produce our name-containing utterances with descriptions on our minds. After arguing that direct reference proponents have failed to give descriptions their due, I show that appeal to speaker-associated descriptions is required if the direct reference portrayal of speakers wielding (...) and referring with public names is to succeed. (shrink)
Charles S. Peirce’s theory of proper names bears helpful insights for how we might think about his understanding of persons. Persons, on his view, are continuities, not static objects. I argue that Peirce’s notion of the legisign, particularly proper names, sheds light on the habitual and conventional elements of what it means to be a person. In this paper, I begin with an account of what philosophers of language have said about proper names in order to distinguish (...) Peirce’s theory of proper names from them. Then, I present Peirce’s semiotic theory of proper names, followed by some ways in which his theory can be applied to practical concerns, such as first impressions, name changing, identity, and temporary insanity. (shrink)
According to the New Theory of Reference, proper names (and indexicals) and natural kind terms are semantically similar to each other but crucially different from definite descriptions and “ordinary” predicates, respectively. New Theorists say that a name, unlike a definite description, is a directly referential nondescriptional rigid designator, which refers “without a mediation of the content” and is not functional (i.e. lacks a Carnapian intension). Natural kind terms, such as ‘horse’ and ‘water’, are held to have similar distinctions, (...) in contrast to other predicates. However, the New Theory contains some problems related to reference, descriptionality, content and meaning. In view of these problems, it will be argued that the distinctive shared feature of proper names and natural kind terms, while technically corresponding to nonfunctionality, is to be explicated in terms of independence of possible worlds, rather than in terms of reference and content: natural kind terms are world-independent predicates, making “worldless” predications. Just as, say, ‘Elvis’ names Elvis even with respect to “Elvisless” worlds, or, rather, names Elvis independently of worlds, natural kind terms are in an important sense “worldless” as well: to talk about Elvis is to talk about him irrespective of moments of time and possible worlds, and is to talk about a human, also irrespective of moments and worlds, while it is not to talk about, say, a drug-addict irrespective of moments, nor about a singer irrespective of worlds. There is no genuinely timeless and worldless predication of the sort “Elvis is (was) bald”, but there is, it seems, such a predication “Elvis is (was) human”. This notion of independence of times and worlds is detached from those of descriptionality and content mediation. (shrink)
Standard rigid designator accounts of a name’s meaning have trouble accommodating what I will call a descriptive name’s “shifty” character -- its tendency to shift its referent over time in response to a discovery that the conventional referent of that name does not satisfy the description with which that name was introduced. I offer a variant of Kripke’s historical semantic theory of how names function, a variant that can accommodate the character of descriptive names while maintaining (...) rigidity for proper names. A descriptive name’s shiftiness calls for a semantic account of names that makes their semantic values bipartite, containing both traditional semantic contents and what I call "modes of introduction." Both parts of a name's semantic value are derived from the way a name gets introduced into discourse -- from what I refer to as its "context of introduction." Making a name's semantic value bipartite in this way allows for a definite description to be a part of propername's meaning without thereby sacrificing that name’s status as a rigid designator. On my view, a definite description is part of descriptive name’s mode of introduction. That is, it is part of what determines the content assigned to that name. As it turns out, making a definite description part of a descriptive name’s mode of introduction allows for that definite description to play the role of a mere reference-fixer regarding that name’s content, as Kripke would have it. However, my account allows a definite description to fix a descriptive name’s content actively over time, thereby explaining its inherent shiftiness. (shrink)
The paper argues that philosophers commonly misidentify the substitutivity principle involved in Russell’s puzzle about substitutivity in “On Denoting” (the so-called "George IV puzzle"). This matters because when that principle is properly identified the puzzle becomes considerably sharper and more interesting than it is often taken to be. This article describes both the puzzle itself and Russell's solution to it, which involves resources beyond the theory of descriptions. It then explores the epistemological and metaphysical consequences of that solution. One such (...) consequence, it argues, is that Russell must abandon his commitment to propositions. (shrink)
The *Tractatus* contains an argument that there are simple, necessarily existent objects, which, being simple, are suited to be the referents of the names occuring in the final analysis of propositions. The argument is perplexing in its own right, but also for its invocation of the notion of "substance". I argue that if one locates Wittgenstein's conception of substance in the Kantian tradition to which his talk of "substance" alludes, what emerges is an argument that is very nearly--but not quite--cogent.
John Searle's Speech Acts (1969) and Expression and Meaning (1979) developed a highly original and influential approach to the study of language. But behind both works lay the assumption that the philosophy of language is in the end a branch of the philosophy of the mind: speech acts are forms of human action and represent just one example of the mind's capacity to relate the human organism to the world. The present book is concerned with these biologically fundamental capacities, and, (...) though third in the sequence, in effect it provides the philosophical foundations for the other two. Intentionality is taken to be the crucial mental phenomenon, and its analysis involves wide-ranging discussions of perception, action, causation, meaning, and reference. In all these areas John Searle has original and stimulating views. He ends with a resolution of the 'mind-body' problem. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of whether there is a proper analogy of being according to both meaning and being. I disagree with Ralph McInerny’s understanding of how things are named through concepts and argue that McInerny’s account does not allow for the thing represented by the name to be known in itself. In his understanding of analogy, only ideas of things may be known. This results in a wholesale inability to name things at all and thereby (...) forces McInerny to relegate naming to a purely logical concern. As a consequence, for McInerny, since naming becomes only a logical concern, being itself cannot be known as analogous according to being and meaning since naming only involves the naming of ideas, not of things. (shrink)
It is generally thought that <span class='Hi'>Searle</span>'s cluster theory of the sense of a propername was soundly refuted by Kripke in Naming and Necessity. This paper challenges this widespread belief and argues that the observations made by Kripke do not show that <span class='Hi'>Searle</span>'s version of descriptivism is false. Indeed, charitably interpreted, <span class='Hi'>Searle</span>'s theory retains considerable plausibility.
I’m going to present a new idea about how to find the right place for the indexical and demonstrative expressions in Gottlob Frege’s semantics. My main thesis is: that it is possible to find such interpretation of Frege’s view on indexicals and demonstratives which is entirely “fregean” and is not vulnerable to the counterexamples given by Kaplan and Perry. According to the interpretation I propose, these expressions are functional and they denote first-level functions defined on objects. These functional expressions taken (...) together with an object form a hybrid propername. (shrink)
The difference between common and proper names seems to derive from specific semantic characteristics of proper names. In particular, proper names refer to specific individual entities or events, and unlike common names, rarely map onto more general semantic characteristics (attributes, concepts, categories). This fact makes the link proper names have with their reference particularly fragile. Processing proper names seems, as a consequence, to require special cognitive and neural resources. Neuropsychological findings show that proper names (...) and common names follow functionally distinct processing pathways. These pathways are neurally distinct and differently sensitive to focal or generalized brain damage, cognitive changes with age or lack of organic resources. Their precise location, depending on specific tasks, is still partly unknown. (shrink)
This paper reviews the role of sortals in the syntax and semantics of proper names and the related question of a mass-count distinction among proper names. The paper argues that sortals play a significant role with proper names and that that role matches individuating or ‘sortal’ classifiers in languages lacking a mass-count distinction. Proper names do not themselves classify as count, but may classify as mass or rather number-neutral. This also holds for other expressions or uses (...) of expressions that lack a syntactic mass-count distinction, namely that-clauses, predicative phrases, intensional NPs, quotations, as well as verbs with respect to their event arguments. In all those cases, the relevant diagnostics show a number-neutral status, rather than a division into mass and count. This is remarkable because it means that count status is independent of the nature of the semantic values of an expression or its conceptual content. It also means that even languages such as English or German are classifier languages when it comes to expressions or uses of expressions to which a syntactic mass-count distinction is inapplicable. (shrink)
After a brief review of the notions of necessity and a priority, this paper scrutinizes Kripke's arguments for supposedly contingent a priori propositions and necessary a posteriori propositions involving proper names, and reaches a negative conclusion, i.e. there are no such propositions, or at least the propositions Kripke gives as examples are not such propositions. All of us, including Kripke himself, still have to face the old question raised by Hume, i.e. how can we justify the necessity and universality (...) of general statements on the basis of sensory or empirical evidence? (shrink)
This paper develops a new account of reference-fixing for proper names. The account is built around an intuitive claim about reference fixing: the claim that I am a participant in a practice of using α to refer to o only if my uses of α are constrained by the representationally relevant ways it is possible for o to behave. §I raises examples that suggest that a right account of how proper names refer should incorporate this claim. §II provides (...) such an account. (shrink)
An identity statement flanked on both sides with proper names is necessarily true, Saul Kripke thinks, if it's true at all. Thus, contrary to the received view – or at least what was, prior to Kripke, the received view – a statement like(A) Hesperus is Phosphorus.
In the contemporary debate about the nature of persistence, stage theory is the view that ordinary objects (artefacts, animals, persons, etc.) are instantaneous and persist by being suitably related to other instantaneous objects. In this paper I focus on the issue of what stage theorists should say about the semantics of ordinary proper names, like ‘Socrates’ or ‘London’. I consider the remarks that stage theorists actually make about this issue, present some problems they face, and finally offer what I (...) take to be the best alternative available for them. (shrink)
I defend what I believe to be a new variation on Kripkean themes, for the purpose of providing an improved way to understand the referring functions of proper names. I begin by discussing roles played by perceptual perspectives in the use of proper names, and then broaden the discussion to include what I call cognitive perspectives. Although both types of perspectives underwrite the existence of intentional intermediaries between proper names and their referents, the existence of these intentional (...) intermediaries does not entail that a Kripke-inspired view of direct reference must be abandoned. At the same time, the existence of these intermediaries can be seen to play illuminating roles as regards the referring functions of proper names in the following types of cases, among others: (a) where different names pick out the same subject; (b) where names are empty. Along the way, I argue that perspectival views are not something inside the head of language users as intended by Putnam in his well-known discussion of meaning. (shrink)
I argue that (a) the causal theory of proper names and (b) Kripke's chain of references thesis are logically independent of each other, and that the case for (a) is very weak. I observe that rejecting (a) we lose one powerful reason for treating proper names as rigid designators. I then consider reasons for subscribing to (b), and I argue that (b) is compatible with either a rigid or a non-rigid (descriptive) semantic treatment of proper names.
Charles Peirce's theory of proper names is intimately connected to a number of central topics in contemporary philosophy of language and logic. Several papers have appeared in the past in which Peirce's theory of names has been attested to be a precursor of the causal-historical theory of reference.2 The causal-historical theory in turn has customarily been pigeonholed as the 'new' theories of reference that have been emerging since the 1950s (Devitt 1981; Donellan 1966; Kripke 1980; Marcus 1950; Putnam 1973). (...) Among those who have seen Peirce as such a precursor of the new theory of reference are DiLeo (1997), Hilpinen (1995), Maddalena (2006), Pape (1987), and Thibaud (1987). Related recent publications on the .. (shrink)
Saul Kripke’s thesis that ordinary proper names are rigid designators is supported by widely shared intuitions about the occurrence of names in ordinary modal contexts. By those intuitions names are scopeless with respect to the modal expressions. That is, sentences in a pair like (a) Aristotle might have been fond of dogs, (b) Concerning Aristotle, it is true that he might have been fond of dogs will have the same truth value. The same does not in general hold for (...) definite descriptions. If one, like Kripke, accounts for this difference by means of the intensions of the names and the descriptions, the conclusion is that names do not in general have the same intension as any normal, identifying description. However, this difference can be accounted for alternatively by appeal to the semantics of the modal expressions. On the account we suggest, dubbed ‘relational modality’, simple singular terms, like proper names, contribute to modal contexts simply by their actual world reference, not by their descriptive content. That account turns out to be fully equivalent with the rigidity account when it comes to truth of modal and non-modal sentence (with respect to the actual world), and hence supports the same basic intuitions. Here we present the relational modality account and compare it with others, in particular Kripke’s own. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the semantics of proper names from two different points of view. As everyboy knows, there is a standard account of the semantics of proper names - it is Kripke's account, essentially. And there is a certain amount of neuropsychological research on proper names, or on the mental representation, or processing of proper names -not too small an amount, at this point. There is a certain amount of evidence, and there are a (...) few theories, none of them regarded as definitive, if I read the state of the art correctly. It may be thought that such neuropsychological work is simply irrelevant to the concerns of semantics, and vice-versa. For semantics is concerned with the truth conditions of sentences per se, and neuropsychology has nothing to say about that; neuropsychology, on the other hand, is concerned with several mental performances involving proper names -retrieving them from memory, or using them as cues to a person's face- and with their place within semantic memory (in case they have a special place), and semantics has nothing to say about that. The truth conditions that semantics is after are defined on the ground of a metaphysical notion of truth, whereas the only notion of truth that can be relevant to psychology is an epistemological notion: i.e. psychology may be interested in, and may have something to say about the procedures by which we come to regard a sentence as true, not about the conditions on which it is "objectively" true. (shrink)
There is evidence that children learn both proper names and count nouns from the outset of lexical development. Furthermore, children's first proper names are typically words for people, whereas their first count nouns are commonly terms for other objects, including artifacts. I argue that these facts represent a challenge for two well-known theoretical accounts of object word learning. I defend an alternative account, which credits young children with conceptual resources to acquire words for both individual objects and object (...) categories, and conceptual biases to construe some objects (notably people) as individuals in their own right and most other objects as instances of their category. (shrink)
Recently, several philosophers of language have claimed that, at least in some respects, Peter Geach proposed a view about proper names that anticipated important features of the causal theory (or historical chain theory) that was later set forth by Saul Kripke and others. Quentin Smith, for example, in his essay, "Direct, Rigid Designation and A Posteriori Necessity: A History and Critique," says explicitly that "Geach (1969) ... originated the causal or 'historical chain' theory of names" (1999). In his entry (...) on "Proper Names" for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Graeme Forbes speaks of the "Geach-Kripke historical chain account" of proper names. In this paper, I suggest that, while there are very clear affinities between Geach's view on proper names and that of Kripke, there are several important differences, differences that are significant enough for me to claim that Geach and Kripke do not share a single account of proper names. (shrink)
Hurford claims that empty variables antedated proper names in linguistic (not merely logical) predicate-argument structure, and this had an effect on visual perception. But his evidence, drawn from proper names and the supposed inability of nonhumans to recognise individual conspecifics, is weak. So visual perception seems less relevant to the evolution of grammar than Hurford thinks.
Tyler Burge's theory of proper names is being revived with the help of Generative Grammar. The complex syntax of DPs appears to encourage the Burgean analysis of proper names which attributes complex semantic structures to the uses of proper names. I will argue, however, that the Millian view of proper names which hypothesizes simple semantics for names is also compatible with the complex syntactic structures. In order to defend this thesis, I will show that Paul Elbourne's (...) implementation of Burge's insight is no better than the Millian semantics of proper names. (shrink)
This introduction to modern work in analytic philosophy uses the example of the propername to give a clear explanation of the logical theories of Gottlob Frege, and explain the application of his ideas to ordinary language. McCulloch then shows how meaning is rooted in the philosophy of mind and the question of intentionality, and looks at the ways in which thought can be "about" individual material objects.
According to a recent suggestion, the names of gene taxa should be conceived of as referring to individuals with concrete genes as their parts, just as the names of biological species are often understood as denoting individuals with organisms as their parts. Although prima facie this suggestion might advance the debate on gene concepts in a similar way as the species-are-individuals thesis advanced the debate on species concepts, I argue that the principal arguments in support of the gene-individuality thesis are (...) much less compelling than the parallel arguments in the species case. In addition, I argue that the notion of biological function invoked in the gene-individuality thesis (selected effect) is not the one that biologists actually use when individuating genes. Contra the gene-individuality thesis, I argue that gene names refer to kinds, defined primarily (though not exclusively) by causal-role functions. (shrink)
Variabilism is the view that proper names (like pronouns) are semantically represented as variables. Referential names, like referential pronouns, are assigned their referents by a contextual variable assignment (Kaplan 1989). The reference parameter (like the world of evaluation) may also be shifted by operators in the representation language. Indeed verbs that create hyperintensional contexts, like ‘think’, are treated as operators that simultaneously shift the world and assignment parameters. By contrast, metaphysical modal operators shift the world of assessment only. Names, (...) being variables, refer rigidly in the latter merely intensional contexts, but may vary their reference in hyperintensional contexts. This conforms to the intuition that the content of attitude ascriptions encapsulates referential uncertainty. Furthermore, names in hyperintensional contexts are ambiguous between de re* and de dicto* interpretations. This fact is used to account for asymmetric mistaken identity attributions (for example, Biron thinks Katherine is Rosaline, but he doesn’t think Rosaline is Katherine). -/- The variable theory compares favourably with its alternatives, including Millianism and descriptivism. Millians cannot account for the behaviour of names in hyperintensional contexts, while descriptivists cannot generate a necessary contrast between intensional and hyperintensional contexts. No other theory can capture the facts pertaining to the existentially bound use of names. (shrink)
A critique of attempts by Charles Travis and others to read contextualism back into Philosophical Investigations. The central interpretive claim is that this reading is not only unsupported; it gets Wittgenstein's intent, in the parts of the text at issue, precisely backwards. The focus of the chapter is on Wittgenstein's treatment of explanation, understanding, proper names, and family-resemblance concepts.
I have been told that for some twenty minutes after reading this paper Kripke believed I had shown that proper names could be non-rigid designators. (Then, apparently, he found a crucial error in the set-up.) I take great pride in this (alleged) fact.
Some hold that proper names and indexicals are “Kaplan rigid”: they designate their designata even in worlds where the designata don’t exist. An argument they give for this is based on the analogy between time and modality. It is shown how this argument gains forcefulness at the expense of carefulness. Then the argument is criticized as forming a part of an inconsistent philosophical framework, the one with which David Kaplan and others operate. An alternative account of a certain class (...) of negative existentials is developed, one which eliminates both the inconsistency and the need for Kaplan rigidity. After all, mustn’t whatever is referred to exist? (shrink)
Almost everyone believes in modality de dicto. Necessarily, puppies are young dogs. The necessity here derives from the meaning of “puppy.” The term means young dog. Essentialism is belief in a more exotic sort of modality, one that does not derive from meaning in this direct and simple way. In the first two sections of this paper, I consider indexical and nonindexical kind terms and the sort of modality applicable to each. In the last section, I consider individuals and (...) class='Hi'>proper names. (shrink)
The aim of the thesis is to provide the foundations for a representation-based theory of meaning, i.e. a theory of meaning that encompasses the psychological level of cognitive representations. This is in opposition to the antipsychologist goals of the Fregean philosophy of language and represents the results of a joint analysis of multiple philosophical problems in contemporary philosophy of language, which, as argued in the tesis, stem from the lack of recognition of a cognitive level in language. In the thesis, (...) I first provide and argue a definition of cognitive/mental representations based on results in developmental psychology as well as theoretical considerations. Then, I use the definition to build upon it a richer theory of concepts and apply it to various philosophical conundra. The problems tackled include the problem of proper names (for which a solution is proposed that respects the post-Kripkean criticism), a unified meaning postulate for modalities and the epistemology and ontology of mathematical terms. The thesis concludes with a proposed application of the newly acquired framework to select social aspects of language use. (shrink)
This paper attempts to define indexicality so as to semantically distinguish indexicals from proper names and definite descriptions. The widely-accepted approach that says that indexical reference is distinctive in being dependent on context of use is criticized. A reductive approach is proposed and defended that takes an indexical to be (roughly) an expression that either is or is equivalent to ‘here’ or ‘now’, or is such that a tokening of it refers by relating something to the place and/or time (...) that would have been referred to had ‘here’ and ‘now’ been tokened instead. Alternative reductive approaches are criticized. (shrink)