From the apparently trivial problem of homonyms, I argue that proper names as they occur in natural languages cannot be characterised as strings of sounds or characters. This entails, first, that the proper names philosophers talk about are not physical entities, like strings, but abstractions that, second, may be better characterised as triples (s, m, C), where s is the string that conveys the meaning m in a set of contexts C. Third, the generality principle of compositionality may be put (...) into question, for apparently its converse holds in some cases. Finally, the prominence of context for determining the meaning expressed by a sign suggests a strong connection between proper names and indexicals. This connection has been largely overlooked by the analytic tradition, in spite that both proper names and indexicals have been among their hottest topics. This may be because the analytic literature about proper names has been decisively influenced by Frege’s work, which was better suited for formal languages. Izydora Dąmbska and Jerzy Pelc, with their semiotic background, were able to have a finer understanding of this quasi-indexical character of proper names. (shrink)
According to the Self-Location Thesis, certain types of visual experiences have self-locating and so first-person, spatial contents. Such self-locating contents are typically specified in relational egocentric terms. So understood, visual experiences provide support for the claim that there is a kind of self-consciousness found in experiential states. This paper critically examines the Self-Location Thesis with respect to dynamic-reflexive visual experiences, which involve the movement of an object toward the location of the perceiving subject. The main aim of this paper is (...) to offer an alternative interpretation of these cases which resists attributing them self-locating content, arguing for a replacement of the de se component with a non-conceptual equivalent of the indexical ‘here’. In its final section, the paper also considers an extension of the h-replacement account to cases of visual kinesthesis. (shrink)
Current descriptivist accounts of proper names entail two claims: that the expressions we know as different proper names are the bearers of different meanings and that the descriptions corresponding to these meanings contain quotations of the expressions whose meanings they are taken to be. While is the source of a number of intractable problems, descriptivists feel committed to it because it is the only available option to adhere to, which they use to take as a matter of course. In the (...) present paper I will bring up for discussion a, to my knowledge, new descriptivist account, inter-nominal descriptivism, which avoids the commitment to by rejecting. According to this account, all tokens of the expressions known as different proper names express the same descriptive mode of presentation and this descriptive mode of presentation is akin to the character of an indexical. I will try to show that, contrary to first appearance, this idea can be developed in a consistent and plausible manner. (shrink)
This contribution to the volume explains predicativism, including reasons that favour it and different versions of it. What all predicativist theories have in common is the claim that a proper name is a general, predicative term, with a hidden determiner in its single use.
Metalinguistic approaches to names hold that proper names are semantically associated with name-bearing properties. I argue that metalinguistic theorists owe us an account of the metaphysics of those properties. The unique structure of the debate about names gives an issue which might look to be narrowly linguistic an important metaphysical dimension. The only plausible account of name-bearing treats name-bearing properties as a species of response-dependent property. I outline how such an account should look, drawing on forms of response-dependence identified in (...) the literature on colour, moral properties, etc. Having done that, I show how the account can illuminate a feature of the communicative function of names which would otherwise be puzzling from the perspective of metalinguistic accounts. (shrink)
I argue, in this thesis, that proper name reference is a wholly pragmatic phenomenon. The reference of a proper name is neither constitutive of, nor determined by, the semantic content of that name, but is determined, on an occasion of use, by pragmatic factors. The majority of views in the literature on proper name reference claim that reference is in some way determined by the semantics of the name, either because their reference simply constitutes their semantics (which generally requires a (...) very fine-grained individuation of names), or because names have an indexical-like semantics that returns a referent given certain specific contextual parameters. I discuss and criticize these views in detail, arguing, essentially, in both cases, that there can be no determinate criteria for reference determination—a claim required by both types of semantic view. I also consider a less common view on proper name reference: that it is determined wholly by speakers’ intentions. I argue that the most plausible version of this view—a strong neo-Gricean position whereby all utterance content is determined by the communicative intentions of the speaker—is implausible in light of psychological data. In the positive part of my thesis, I develop a pragmatic view of proper name reference that is influenced primarily by the work of Charles Travis. I argue that the reference of proper names can only be satisfactorily accounted for by claiming that reference occurs not at the level of word meaning, but at the pragmatic level, on an occasion of utterance. I claim that the contextual mechanisms that determine the reference of a name on an occasion are the same kinds of thing that determine the truth-values of utterances according to Travis. Thus, names are, effectively, occasion sensitive in the way that Travis claims predicates and sentences (amongst other expressions) are. Finally, I discuss how further research might address how my pragmatic view of reference affects traditional issues in the literature on names, and the consequences of the view for the semantics of names. (shrink)
Two approaches to indexicality are comparatively taken into analysis: John Parry's analytic approach on the one hand, and a sort of Saussure-inspired approach within the domain of Functionalist Linguistics, on the other hand. It is argued that these two approaches do diametrically oppose each other in some important aspects. The notion of Saussurean arbitrariness of reference, opposing the analytic notion of rigid designation, is eventually argued to have a good explanatory power when some ordinary language phenomena are to be explained.
Indexicals are unique among expressions in that they depend for their literal content upon extra-semantic features of the contexts in which they are uttered. Taking this peculiarity of indexicals into account yields solutions to variants of Frege's Puzzle involving objects of attitude-bearing of an indexical nature. If names are indexicals, then the classical versions of Frege's Puzzle can be solved in the same way. Taking names to be indexicals also yields solutions to tougher, more recently-discovered puzzles such as Kripke's well-known (...) case involving Paderewski. We argue that names are in fact rigidly designating indexicals. We also argue that fully developed, the direct reference theory's best strategy for solving the puzzles amounts to the adoption of the indexical theory of names – a move that we argue should be thought of as a natural development of the direct reference theory, and not as antagonistic to it. (shrink)
It has been persuasively argued by David Kaplan and others that the proposition expressed by statements like (1) is a singular proposition, true in just those worlds in which a certain person, David Israel, is a computer scientist. Call this proposition P . The truth of this proposition does not require that the utterance (1) occur, or even that Israel has ever said anything at all. Marcus, Donnellan, Kripke and others have persuasively argued for a view of proper names that, (...) put in Kaplan’s terms and applied to this example, implies that the proposition expressed by (2) is also simply P .1 The thesis that expressions of a certain category (names, indexicals, demonstratives, pronouns, descriptions, etc.) are referential 2holds that these expressions contribute the object to which they refer, rather than a mode of presentation of that object, to the propositions expressed by statements containing them. The thesis that indexicals and names are referential creates the challenge of explaining the difference in cognitive signiﬁcance between statements like (1) and (2), that express the same proposition[Wettstein, 1986]. The problem has two parts, which.. (shrink)
The paper seeks to develop an account of indexical phenomena based on the highly general theory of structure and dependence set forth by Husserl in his Logical Investigations. Husserl here defends an Aristotelian theory of meaning, viewing meanings as species or universals having as their instances certain sorts of concrete meaning acts. Indexical phenomena are seen to involve the combination of such acts of meaning with acts of perception, a thesis here developed in some detail and contrasted with accounts of (...) indexicals suggested by Frege, Wittgenstein and by the later Husserl himself in his Ideas I. Implications are drawn also for our understanding of the categorial grammar sketched by Husserl in his 4th Logical Investigation, as also for our understanding of the nature of proper names and other candidate indexical expressions. (shrink)
‘What is characteristic of every mental activity’, according to Brentano, is ‘the reference to something as an object. In this respect every mental activity seems to be something relational.’ But what sort of a relation, if any, is our cognitive access to the world? This question – which we shall call Brentano’s question – throws a new light on many of the traditional problems of epistemology. The paper defends a view of perceptual acts as real relations of a subject to (...) an object. To make this view coherent, a theory of different types of relations is developed, resting on ideas on formal ontology put forward by Husserl in his Logical Investigations and on the theory of relations sketched in Smith's "Acta cum fundamentis in re". The theory is applied to the notion of a Cambridge change, which proves to have an unforeseen relevance to our understanding of perception. (shrink)