Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of propernames, 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)
This paper reviews the role of sortals in the syntax and semantics of propernames and the related question of a mass-count distinction among propernames. The paper argues that sortals play a significant role with propernames and that that role matches individuating or ‘sortal’ classifiers in languages lacking a mass-count distinction. Propernames 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)
A widely accepted thesis in the philosophy of language is that natural language propernames 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 propernames, that of how the referents of propernames 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 propernames 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 propernames in argument positions have received a lot of attention, this cannot be said about propernames 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 propernames there have to be analyzed as predicates, whose content mentions the name itself (cf. “quotation theories”). If propernames 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 propernames”). Further consideration of the compositional semantics of propernames 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 propernames in argument positions and provide compositional semantics of complex and modified propernames (e.g., the famous detective Sherlock Holmes ). (shrink)
Direct reference theorists tell us that propernames 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)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of propernames 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 (...) class='Hi'>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. Propernames 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)
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 propernames, 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 propernames. I begin by discussing roles played by perceptual perspectives in the use of propernames, and then broaden the discussion to include what I call cognitive perspectives. Although both types of perspectives underwrite the existence of intentional intermediaries between propernames 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 propernames 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)
Saul Kripke’s thesis that ordinary propernames 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 propernames, 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)
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 propernames. Nowadays descriptivists can draw on a much richer set of linguistic data (including bound and accommodated propernames 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)
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 proper name' (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 propernames. (...) After outlining why Frege held the hybrid proper name 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)
The difference between common and propernames seems to derive from specific semantic characteristics of propernames. In particular, propernames 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 propernames have with their reference particularly fragile. Processing propernames seems, as a consequence, to require special cognitive and neural resources. Neuropsychological (...) findings show that propernames 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)
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 propernames, 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 propernames. 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 propernames refer should incorporate this claim. (...) §II provides such an account. (shrink)
An identity statement flanked on both sides with propernames 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.
Charles S. Peirce’s theory of propernames 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 propernames, 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 propernames in (...) order to distinguish Peirce’s theory of propernames from them. Then, I present Peirce’s semiotic theory of propernames, 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)
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 propernames, from an ecological point of view, captures the information carried by uses of a proper name, 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.
This paper proposes a new, stronger version of the cluster theory of propernames. 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 proper name. 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 propernames and why they are rigid designators in contrast with descriptions.1. (shrink)
I argue that (a) the causal theory of propernames 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 propernames 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. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the semantic function of an ordinary proper name (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 proper name 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 propernames and the theory that an ordinary proper name 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)
Charles Peirce's theory of propernames 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 propernames 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 propernames, 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)
In the fourth-century Greek theologian Basil of Caesarea is found a discussion of the signification of propernames, which appears to pick up some points from earlier ideas about language. He undertakes an analysis of propernames in response to his theological opponents. I will argue that Basil presents a theory which in some respects anticipates modern description theories. Basil has an idea of the role of cognition in a theory of naming. (edited).
This paper addresses some data put forward by Geurts (1997) in support of his metalinguistic or quotation theory of propernames, according to which a name N means ‘the individual named N’. The data illustrate ten linguistic behaviours claimed to be shared by propernames and definite descriptions. I argue that in some cases the behaviours have a common explanation which is based on a property independent of Geurts' analysis, and that in the remaining cases the (...) behaviours are not actually shared. Thus these behaviours do not actually support the metalinguistic theory. (shrink)
According to the New Theory of Reference, propernames (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 propernames 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)
Kripke has argued that propernames, as rigid designators, cannot be equivalent in meaning to definite descriptions. in this paper, i argue that definite descriptions are sometimes used rigidly and that propernames are equivalent to definite descriptions used rigidly.
This paper is concerned with the semantics of propernames from two different points of view. As everyboy knows, there is a standard account of the semantics of propernames - it is Kripke's account, essentially. And there is a certain amount of neuropsychological research on propernames, or on the mental representation, or processing of propernames -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 propernames -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 propernames and count nouns from the outset of lexical development. Furthermore, children's first propernames 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)
Hurford claims that empty variables antedated propernames in linguistic (not merely logical) predicate-argument structure, and this had an effect on visual perception. But his evidence, drawn from propernames 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.
Recently, several philosophers of language have claimed that, at least in some respects, Peter Geach proposed a view about propernames 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 "ProperNames" for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Graeme Forbes speaks of the "Geach-Kripke historical chain account" of propernames. In this paper, I suggest that, while there are very clear affinities between Geach's view on propernames 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 propernames. (shrink)
Unobservable properties that are specific to individuals, such as their propernames, 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 proper name 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 proper name. 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)
Searle has proposed a "presupposition-Theory" of propernames in which he maintains that names are not short for descriptions and which, He claims, Solves frege's puzzle as to how an identity-Sentence containing co-Referential names can be informative. Two possible interpretations of searle's view are proposed, And it is argued that neither interpretation can be used to solve frege's puzzle and that, On the most plausible interpretation of his view, Searle is committed to the thesis that (...) class='Hi'>names are short for descriptions after all. (shrink)
The predicate view on propernames opts for a uniform semantic representation of proper nouns like ‘Alfred’ as predicates on the level of logical form. Early defences of this view can be found in Sloat (Language, vol. 45, pp. 26–30, 1969) and Burge (J. Philos. 70: 425–439, 1973), but there is an increasing more recent interest in this view on propernames. My paper aims to provide a reconstruction and critique of Burge’s main argument for (...) the predicate view on propernames, which is still used by several current philosophers in defence of this view. I have called this argument the unification argument. I will present a stepwise interpretation and reconstruction of this argument, consider several possible responses to it and defend a specific response to it in detail. (shrink)
Examples are presented which raise problems for theories of propernames which deny their equivalence either with descriptions (miller, Kripke) or with non-Trivial descriptions (bach). These examples of names equivalent to the same descriptions for all the possible worlds in which their bearers exist require the theories to be abandoned or at least modified as to their scope.
It has been proposed that, Under the restriction of singular terms to propernames, Singular de re propositions would be equivalent to certain de dicto propositions. But that is so only if a certain thesis--A thesis which is itself irreducibly de re--Is true of propernames. The conclusion is that the restriction to propernames is not, By itself, Sufficient to render the de re and de dicto equivalent.
Saul Kripke in his revolutionary and influential series of lectures from the early 1970s (later published as the book Naming and Necessity) famously resurrected John Stuart Mill's theory of propernames. Kripke at the same time rejected Mill's theory of general terms. According to Kripke, many natural kind terms do not fit Mill's account of general terms and are closer to propernames. Unfortunately, Kripke and his followers ignored key passages in Mill's A System of Logic (...) in which Mill enunciates a sophisticated and detailed theory of natural kind terms that anticipates and is in some ways superior to Kripke's. (shrink)
This article is a comment on barry miller, "propernames and their distinctive senses," "australian journal of philosophy", Volume 52, Pages 201-210, January 1974. Miller claims that the sense of a name is its role of referring to the individual to which it has been attached in the act of naming. Miller also claims that names have unique senses and that it is impossible in principle to say what these senses are. Here it is shown that these (...) claims are incompatible. Miller's account of the senses of names also results in the problem which frege's distinction between sense and reference was intended to solve. (shrink)
Close attention to the meanings of certain sentences--Counterfactual-Identity sentences--Reveals that no theory in which propernames are simple designators can be a complete and correct semantics of english. An account of connotation is outlined according to which connotation varies with the linguistic environment and with the context of utterance: this accounts for the fact that no proper name is synonymous with a cluster of descriptions.
Common names, for Mill, have both connotation and denotation. Thus ‘horse’ connotes certain properties, and the name ‘horse’ denotes the things that have those properties. By contrast, propernames have no connotations; they do not denote in virtue of the possession of certain properties by their denotations, but so to speak, directly. Thus Socrates received his name by being dubbed ‘Socrates’; and he might just as well have been given any other name. This contrast is misleading. After (...) all, we might have named horses by another name, too; e.g., ‘cow’ or ‘Pferd’. However, once the convention by which they are called ‘horses’ is established, it is not correct to call them ‘cows’. A horse is not a cow. Just so Socrates could have been named ‘Plato’ or ‘Moses’, but once he has been named ‘Socrates’, it is just as wrong to call him ‘Plato’ as it is to call a horse a ‘cow’. What is correctly called a ‘horse’ is so called in virtue of its possession of certain properties, just as what is called ‘Socrates’ is so called in virtue of his possession of the requisite properties. From this point of view, propernames are words like any others. (Leonard Linsky, Oblique Contexts, University of Chicago Press 1983, pp. 16f.). (shrink)
Tyler Burge's theory of propernames is being revived with the help of Generative Grammar. The complex syntax of DPs appears to encourage the Burgean analysis of propernames which attributes complex semantic structures to the uses of propernames. I will argue, however, that the Millian view of propernames 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 propernames. (shrink)
The main goal of this paper is to show that in "speech acts", john searle fails to establish his thesis that propernames have sense, or descriptive content. it is argued, by considering counterexamples, that searle's test for the analyticity of statements is inadequate, that the argument from the "principle of identification" is therefore mistaken, and that, because of lack of attention to the distinction between meaning and sense (descriptive content), the argument from identity statements fails to establish (...) the conclusion. hence searle's arguments are unsuccessful. reference is not always in virtue of sense. (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 propernames 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 proper name 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)
One of the two central suggestions put forth in Longobardi (1991, 1994) was that Romance/English differences in the syntax of propernames were parametrically connected to supposed differences in the semantics of bare (plural and mass) common nouns (BNs). The present article will pursue this line of investigation, trying to make precise such meaning differences and to understand the reason for their apparently surprising parametric association with the syntax of propernames.It will be shown that in (...) most Romance varieties BNs, unlike their English counterparts, distribute their existential and generic readings across all different contexts exactly like (Romance and English) overt indefinites. All the differences will be unified under the proposal that Romance BNs are nothing but a type of indefinites (variables, existentially or generically bound) in Kamp-Heim’s DRT sense, while English BNs are rather systematically ambiguous between this quantificational interpretation and a referential (i.e. directly kind-denoting, much in the spirit of Carlson 1977a, b) one, providing for another type of generic reading.The analysis will therefore crucially exploit and empirically support Gerstner and Krifka’s (1987) distinction between referential and quantificational genericity. On such grounds we will finally gain a conceptual understanding of the typological implication originally established in Longobardi (1991, 1994), thus confirming that the strategies of interpretation of nominals, whether proper or common nouns, are basically one and the same, though differently parametrized in different languages. This result, in turn, will shed some light on the question whether comparative semantics is possible and whether it can be singled out as a legitimate independent component of parametric theories of grammatical variation. (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 propernames 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 propernames, which treats the meaning of an arbitrary proper name 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)
Two basic answers have been given to the question whether propernames have meaning, the negative by Mill and later developed by Kripke and the affirmative by Frege and later developed by Searle. My aim is to integrate the two apparently irreconcilable theories by distinguishing the two aspects of the issue. I claim that, roughly speaking, whereas Kripke’s No Sense View provides a good answer to the question, “How are propernames linked to their referents?”, Searle’s (...) Sense View provides a good account of the issue “What do we do when we use a proper name?”. Furthermore, I claim that the speakers attend to the referent of the proper name both in virtue of Kripkean chain of communication and in virtue of Searlian occasion-relative sense. Ordinarily, the chain of communication and the Searlian sense yield the same result, i.e. lead to the same referent. In cases of conflict, which are very rare, my intuition sides with the former against the latter. It would seem, therefore, that the only necessary and sufficient condition for a successful reference with a proper name is the existence of the Kripkean chain which links it with its referent. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to explain how an account of propernames can be incorporated into a general account of the intentionality of mind and language. I show that such an account supports the so-Called descriptivist conception of propernames and in so doing I answer the objections of causal theorists.
Some philosophers believe that the doctrine that individuals have (nominal) essences is supported by arguments designed to show that propernames have senses. Three such arguments are extracted from recent pieces of philosophy: one from the absurdity of bare particulars, A second from the necessary conditions for identifying bearers of propernames, And a third from the ability to replace propernames in discourse with the help of sortal terms. All three arguments are rejected (...) upon examination. The bearing this rejection has for our conception of how we identify particulars through time is briefly discussed. Finally, An attempt to revive this sort of essentialism vis-A-Vis semantic categories is criticized. (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 (...)propernames. 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 proper name'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)