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Summary How can a name which is empty contribute to a sentence which is true or false? If it can contribute, what is its contribution? If it cannot so contribute, how can we explain away the judgement of apparently meaningful sentences containing empty names? In particular how can we account for the preponderance of apparently true negative existential claims?
Key works Russell 1905 argues that ordinary proper names should be treated as definite descriptions which should in turn be analysed away in context with quantifiers. One of Russell's arguements for this descriptivism is that it allows empty names to have a meaning. Kripke 1980 argues against descriptivist theories of names and is sympathetic to a Millian theory. This theme is continued by Kripke 2013 which argues that empty names do not provide a test case for theories of names and that traditional descriptivists do not solve the problem of negative existentials. A Millian solution to the problem of negative existentials is tentatively proposed. Whilst rejecting Millianism, Evans 1982 agrees with Kripke that (most) names depend on a referent to be meaningful. Evans 1982 argues forcefully against Kripke's approach to negative existentials and proposes his own solution. Evans' own solution is, however, subject to the same problems. Burge 1974 shows how one can systematically accommodate meaningful empty names in an ontologically perspicuous way. See also Sainsbury 2005.
Introductions Sainsbury 2009 is an introduction to empty names and related issues such as fictional characters, and truth in fiction.
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124 found
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1 — 50 / 124
  1. added 2020-04-23
    The Importance of Fictional Properties.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - In Stuart Brock & Anthony Everett (eds.), Fictional Objects. Oxford, UK: pp. 208-229.
    Semantic theories of fictional names generally presuppose, either explicitly or implicitly, that fictional predicates are guaranteed a referent. I argue that this presupposition is inconsistent with anti-realist theories of fictional characters and that it cannot be taken for granted by realist theories of fictional characters. The question of whether a fictional name refers to a fictional character cannot be addressed independently of the much-neglected question of whether a fictional predicate refers to a fictional property.
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  2. added 2020-03-13
    Externalism and a Posteriori Semantics.Sören Häggqvist & Åsa Wikforss - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (3):373 - 386.
    It is widely held that the meaning of certain types of terms, such as natural kind terms, is individuated externalistically, in terms of the individual's external environment. Recently a more radical thesis has emerged, a thesis we dub 'a posteriori semantics.' The suggestion is that not only does a term's meaning depend on the external environment, but so does its semantics. One motivation for this is the aim to account for cases where a putative natural kind term fails to pick (...)
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  3. added 2020-03-03
    Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures. [REVIEW]Fred Kroon - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):861-865.
  4. added 2020-02-17
    Naming and Nonexistence.Neil Feit - 2009 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (3):239-262.
    I defend a cluster of views about names from fiction and myth. The views are based on two claims: first, proper names refer directly totheir bearers; and second, names from fiction and myth are genuinely empty, they simply do not refer. I argue that when such names are used in direct discourse, utterances containing them have truth values but do not express propositions. I also argue that it is a mistake to think that if an utterance of, for example, “Vulcan (...)
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  5. added 2020-02-17
    Nonexistence.Nathan Salmon - 1998 - Noûs 32 (3):277-319.
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  6. added 2020-02-04
    Denying Existence: The Logic, Epistemology and Pragmatics of Negative Existenials and Fictional Discourse. [REVIEW]Amie L. Thomasson - 2000 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 61 (1):233-235.
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  7. added 2020-01-17
    Truth Without Reference: The Use of Fictional Names.María de Ponte, Kepa Korta & John Perry - 2020 - Topoi 39 (2):389-399.
    Singular terms without referents are called empty or vacuous terms. But not all of them are equally empty. In particular, not all proper names that fail to name an existing object fail in the same way: although they are all empty, they are not all equally vacuous. “Vulcan,” “Jacob Horn,” “Odysseus,” and “Sherlock Holmes,” for instance, are all empty. They have no referents. But they are not entirely vacuous or useless. Sometimes they are used in statements that are true or (...)
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  8. added 2020-01-17
    Simple Trinitarianism and Empty Names.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (3):325-335.
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  9. added 2020-01-17
    Truths Containing Empty Names.Michael McKinsey - 2016 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk & Luis Fernandez Moreno (eds.), Philosophical Approaches to Proper Names. Peter Lang. pp. 175-202.
    Abstract. On the Direct Reference thesis, proper names are what I call ‘genuine terms’, terms whose sole semantic contributions to the propositions expressed by their use are the terms’ semantic referents. But unless qualified, this thesis implies the false consequence that sentences containing names that fail to refer can never express true or false propositions. (Consider ‘The ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus’, for instance.) I suggest that while names are typically and fundamentally used as genuine terms, there is a small class (...)
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  10. added 2020-01-17
    Do Apparently Empty Names Help Millianism Prevail Against Widescopism? A Note.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (3):253-265.
  11. added 2020-01-17
    Direct Reference, Empty Names and Implicature.Mitchell S. Green - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):419-447.
    Angle Grinder Man removes wheel locks from cars in London. He is something of a folk hero, saving drivers from enormous parking and towing fines, and has succeeded thus far in eluding the authorities. In spite of his cape and lamé tights, he is no fiction; he's a real person. By contrast, Pegasus, Zeus and the like are fictions. None of them is real. In fact, not only is each of them different from the others, all differ from Angle Grinder (...)
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  12. added 2020-01-17
    Empty Names and Pragmatic Implicatures.Fred Adams & Gary Fuller - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):449-461.
    What are the meanings of empty names such as ‘Vulcan,’ ‘Pegasus,’ and ‘Santa Claus’ in such sentences as ‘Vulcan is the tenth planet,’ ‘Pegasus flies,’ and especially ‘Santa Claus does not exist’?Our view, developed in Adams et al., consists of a direct-reference account of the meaning of empty names in combination with a pragmatic-implicature account of why we have certain intuitions that seem to conflict with a direct-reference account.
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  13. added 2020-01-16
    The Varieties of Gappy Propositions.Seyed N. Mousavian - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions. Routledge.
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  14. added 2020-01-16
    Pragmatics of No Reference.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (1):95-116.
    According to Millianism, the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Many names, however, lack semantic referent; hence, so-called ‘empty’ names. Empty names raise various problems for Millianism. T.C. Ryckman, Fred Adams, Garry Fuller, Robert Stecker, Kenneth Taylor, and Nicole Wyatt, among others, have defended Millianism against these problems by appeal to pragmatics . I introduce Millianism and the problems raised by empty names for the view, then examine Pragmatic Millianism , its strength, its varieties, and why (...)
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  15. added 2020-01-16
    Empty Names and Pragmatic Millianism.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):49-58.
    Millianism is the view that the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Empty names, names with no semantic referents, raise various problems for Millianism. To solve these problems, many have appealed to pragmatics, thus ‘Pragmatic Millianism’. Pragmatic Millianism employs the relation of association between names and descriptions as well as some pragmatic processes to substitute empty names with descriptions associated with. The resultant content should account for the intuitions raised by utterances of sentences containing empty names. (...)
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  16. added 2020-01-16
    Gappy Propositions?Seyed N. Mousavian - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):125-157.
    After introducing Millianism and touching on two problems raised by genuinely empty names for Millianism (section I), I provide a brief exposition of the Gappy Proposition View (GPV) and of how different versions of this view can reply to the problems in question (section II). In the following sections I develop my reasons against the GPV. First, I will try to argue that apparently promising arguments for the claim that gappy propositions are propositions are not successful (section III). Then, I (...)
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  17. added 2020-01-16
    Neo-Meinongian neo-Russellians.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (2):229-259.
    Neo-Russellianism, which incorporates both Millianism (with regard to proper names) and the thesis of singular Russellian propositions, has widely been defended after the publication of Kripke's Naming and Necessity. The view, however, encounters various problems regarding empty names, names that do not have semantic referents. Nathan Salmon and Scott Soames have defended neo-Russellianism against such problems in a novel way; to account for various intuitions of competent and rational speakers regarding utterances of sentences containing empty names, Salmon and Soames appeal (...)
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  18. added 2020-01-14
    Names Without Bearers.Jerrold J. Katz - 1994 - Philosophical Review 103 (1):1-39.
  19. added 2019-12-20
    Vacuous Names and Fictional Entities.Saul A. Kripke - 2011 - HORIZON. Studies in Phenomenology 8 (2):676-706.
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  20. added 2019-12-07
    Propositions, Meaning, and Names.Tristan Grøtvedt Haze - 2018 - Philosophical Forum 49 (3):335-362.
    The object of this paper is to sketch an approach to propositions, meaning and names. The key ingredients are a Twin-Earth-inspired distinction between internal and external meaning, and a middle-Wittgenstein-inspired conception of internal meaning as role in language system. I show how the approach offers a promising solution to the problem of the meaning of proper names. This is a plea for a neglected way of thinking about these topics.
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  21. added 2019-10-08
    Semantics of Fictional Terms.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):73-100.
    The paper provides an opinionated survey of recent contributions – roughly, in the last decade – to our understanding of how names and other referring expressions work in fictional discourse and addresses well-known philosophical worries that they raise. Views about the semantics of referring expressions in fictional discourse are usually accompanied by metaphysical views on the ontology of fictional characters, so this will also come under our focus.
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  22. added 2019-09-15
    Sense-Only-Signs: Frege on Fictional Proper Names.Mark Textor - 2011 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 82 (1):375-400.
    I explore Frege's thesis that fictional proper names are supposed to have only sense and no reference. How can one make this thesis compatible with Frege's view that sense determines reference? By holding that fictional proper names are introduced in a particular kind of speech act. Or so I argue.
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  23. added 2019-06-24
    Fiction and Representation.Zoltán Vecsey - 2019 - Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
  24. added 2019-06-06
    Fictional Names Without Fictional Objects.Eleonora Orlando - 2008 - Critica 40 (120):111-127.
    In this paper, I criticize Mark Sainsbury's proposal concerning the semantic analysis of fictional discourse, as it has been put forward in chapter 6 of his Reference without Referents. His main thesis is that fictional names do not refer, and hence statements containing them are genuinely false and must be interpreted in terms of true paraphrases, arrived at on a case-by-case basis. In my opinion, the proposal has a problem derived from the fact that the relation between some problematic examples (...)
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  25. added 2019-06-06
    What to Say When There Is Nothing to Talk About.Mircea Dumitru & Frederick Kroon - 2008 - Critica 40 (120):97-109.
    In Reference without Referents, Mark Sainsbury aims to provide an account of reference that honours the common-sense view that sentences containing empty names like "Vulcan" and "Santa Claus" are entirely intelligible, and that many such sentences -"Vulcan doesn't exist", "Many children believe that Santa Claus will give them presents at Christmas", etc.- are literally true. Sainsbury's account endorses the Davidsonian program in the theory of meaning, and combines this with a commitment to Negative Free Logic, which holds that all simple (...)
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  26. added 2019-06-06
    Intensional Transitives and Presuppositions.R. M. Sainsbury - 2008 - Critica 40 (120):129-139.
    My commentators point to respects in which the picture provided in Reference without Referents is incomplete. The picture provided no account of how sentences constructed from intensional verbs can be true when one of the referring expressions fails to refer. And it gave an incomplete, and possibly misleading, account of how to understand certain serious uses of fictional names, as in "Anna Karenina is more intelligent than Emma Bovary" and "Anna Karenina does not exist". In the present response, I indicate (...)
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  27. added 2019-02-12
    A New Puzzle for Phenomenal Intentionality.Peter Clutton & Alexander Sandgren - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    Phenomenal intentionality theories have recently enjoyed significant attention. According to these theories, the intentionality of a mental representation (what it is about) crucially depends on its phenomenal features. We present a new puzzle for these theories, involving a phenomenon called ‘intentional identity’, or ‘co-intentionality’. Co-intentionality is a ubiquitous intentional phenomenon that involves tracking things even when there is no concrete thing being tracked. We suggest that phenomenal intentionality theories need to either develop new uniquely phenomenal resources for handling the puzzle, (...)
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  28. added 2019-02-06
    Semantic Verbs Are Intensional Transitives.Justin D’Ambrosio - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):213-248.
    In this paper I show that we have strong empirical and theoretical reasons to treat the verbs we use in our semantic theorizing—particularly ‘refers to ’, ‘applies to ’, and ‘is true of ’—as intensional transitive verbs. Stating our semantic theories with intensional vocabulary allows us to partially reconcile two competing approaches to the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian approach, on which semantics is non-relational, internalistic, and concerns the psychology of language users, and the Lewisian approach, on which (...)
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  29. added 2018-10-07
    Russellians Can Solve the Problem of Empty Names with Nonsingular Propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2018 - Synthese:1-23.
    Views that treat the contents of sentences as structured, Russellian propositions face a problem with empty names. It seems that those sorts of things cannot be the contents of sentences containing such names. I motivate and defend a solution to the problem according to which a sentence may have a singular proposition as its content at one time, and a nonsingular one at another. When the name is empty the content is a nonsingular Russellian structured proposition; when the name is (...)
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  30. added 2018-08-19
    Russellians Can Have a No Proposition View of Empty Names.Thomas Hodgson - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (7):670-691.
    Russellians can have a no proposition view of empty names. I will defend this theory against the problem of meaningfulness, and show that the theory is in general well motivated. My solution to the problem of meaningfulness is that speakers’ judgements about meaningfulness are tracking grammaticality, and not propositional content.
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  31. added 2018-07-31
    Gönderim Üzerine.Bertrand Russell - 2015 - Felsefe Tartismalari (49):55-72.
  32. added 2018-03-12
    Pretense and Fiction-Directed Thought.Michael R. Hicks - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (6):1549-1573.
    Thought about fictional characters is special, and needs to be distinguished from ordinary world-directed thought. On my interpretation, Kendall Walton and Gareth Evans have tried to show how this serious fiction-directed thought can arise from engagement with a kind of pretending. Many criticisms of their account have focused on the methodological presupposition, that fiction-directed thought is the appropriate explanandum. In the first part of this paper, I defend the methodological claim, and thus the existence of the problem to which pretense (...)
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  33. added 2018-03-01
    Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence By Manuel García-Carpintero and Genoveva Martí. [REVIEW]T. Parent - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):172-173.
  34. added 2018-02-16
    Failed Reference and Feigned Reference: Much Ado About Nothing.Kent Bach - 1985 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 25 (1):359-374.
    Nothing can be said about a nonexistent object, but something can be said about the act of attempting to refer to one or, as in fiction, of pretending to refer to one. Unsuccessful reference, whether by expressions or by speakers, can be explained straightforwardly within the context of the theory of speech acts and communication. As for fiction, there is nothing special semantically, as to either meaning or reference, about its language. And fictional discourse is just a distinctive use of (...)
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  35. added 2018-01-23
    Nazwy puste w teorii bezpośredniego odniesienia – koncepcja Davida Brauna i jej słabości.Zuzanna Gnatek - 2011 - Diametros 27:130-149.
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  36. added 2018-01-23
    Empty names in the theory of direct reference. David Braun's conception and its weaknesses.Zuzanna Gnatek - 2011 - Diametros:130-149.
    David Braun develops two theories of empty names meant to be compatible with the Direct Reference Theory. I first present the main problems that empty names pose for it. Next, I discuss descriptivism , elaborate how a descriptivist might try to deal with these problems, and explain why the descriptivist's approach is unsatisfactory. After explaining Braun's own position I argue that some aspects of his view are still quite problematic, especially his view on the relation between beliefs and propositions, his (...)
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  37. added 2017-07-06
    Fictional Realism and Negative Existentials.Tatjana von Solodkoff - 2014 - In Manuel García-Carpintero & Genoveva Martí (eds.), Empty Representations: Reference and Non-Existence. Oxford University Press. pp. 333-352.
    In this paper I confront what I take to be the crucial challenge for fictional realism, i.e. the view that fictional characters exist. This is the problem of accounting for the intuition that corresponding negative existentials such as ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ are true (when, given fictional realism, taken literally they seem false). I advance a novel and detailed form of the response according to which we take them to mean variants of such claims as: there is no concrete (...)
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  38. added 2017-03-15
    Mistake is to Myth What Pretense is to Fiction: A Reply to Goodman.Björn Lundgren - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (3):1275-1282.
    In this reply I defend Kripke’s creationist thesis for mythical objects against Jeffrey Goodman’s counter-argument to the thesis, 35–40, 2014). I argue that Goodman has mistaken the basis for when mythical abstracta are created. Contrary to Goodman I show that, as well as how, Kripke’s theory consistently retains the analogy between creation of mythical objects and creation of fictional objects, while also explaining in what way they differ.
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  39. added 2017-03-14
    Saul A. Kripke Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures. Oxford University Press, 2013. Xiii + 170 Pp. GBP £22.50. Isbn 978‐0‐19‐992838‐5. [REVIEW]Björn Lundgren - 2015 - Theoria 81 (2):182-188.
  40. added 2017-02-14
    World-Indexed Descriptivism and an Illusory Problem of Empty Names.Seahwa Kim - 2006 - Philosophy 101:277-298.
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  41. added 2017-02-14
    Dąmbska, Quine, and the So-Called Empty Names.Michele Marsonet - 1998 - In Katarzyna Kijania-Placek & Jan Woleński (eds.), The Lvov-Warsaw School and Contemporary Philosophy. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 191--198.
  42. added 2017-02-13
    Referentialism and Empty Names.Anthony Everett - 2000 - In T. Hofweber & A. Everett (eds.), Empty Names, Fiction, and the Puzzles of Non-Existence. CSLI Publications. pp. 37--60.
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  43. added 2017-02-12
    Probably the Charterhouse of Parma Does Not Exist, Possibly Not Even That Parma.Alberto Voltolini - 2013 - Humana Mente 6 (25):235-261.
    In this paper, I will claim that fictional works apparently about utterly immigrant objects, i.e., real individuals imported in fiction from reality, are instead about fictional individuals that intentionally resemble those real individuals in a significant manner: fictional surrogates of such individuals. Since I also share the realists’ conviction that the remaining fictional works concern native characters, i.e., full-fledged fictional individuals that originate in fiction itself, I will here defend a hyperrealist position according to which fictional works only concern fictional (...)
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  44. added 2017-02-10
    Quantification and Fictional Discourse.Peter van Inwagen - 2000 - In Empty Names, Fiction and the Puzzles of Non-Existence.
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  45. added 2017-02-10
    Fictional Objects.Gerald Vision - 1980 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 11 (1):45-59.
    Problems concerning identity in possible worlds and the view that proper names are rigid designators pose no threat to the doctrine that names of fictional characters (fictional names) are referential. Some philosophers, notably Saul Kripke and David Kaplan, have held otherwise; but a close examination of their arguments discovers fatal flaws in them. Furthermore, the most readily available proposals for the alternative functions of fictional names — that is, proposals in which fictional names are not referential — are open to (...)
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  46. added 2017-02-09
    A Cognitive Theory of Empty Names.Eduardo García-Ramírez - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (4):785-807.
    Ordinary use of empty names encompasses a variety of different phenomena, including issues in semantics, mental content, fiction, pretense, and linguistic practice. In this paper I offer a novel account of empty names, the cognitive theory, and show how it offers a satisfactory account of the phenomena. The virtues of this theory are based on its strength and parsimony. It allows for a fully homogeneous semantic treatment of names coped with ontological frugality and empirical and psychological adequacy.
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  47. added 2017-02-08
    Review: R. M. Sainsbury: Reference Without Referents. [REVIEW]Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):1123-1127.
  48. added 2017-02-02
    Review of Mark Sainsbury, Reference Without Referents[REVIEW]Stephen Barker - 2007 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (1).
  49. added 2016-12-08
    Fiction and Fictionalism.R. M. Sainsbury - 2009 - Routledge.
    Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...)
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  50. added 2016-10-05
    Which Witch is Which? Exotic Objects and Intentional Identity.Alexander Sandgren - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):721-739.
    This paper is about intentional identity, the phenomenon of intentional attitudes having a common focus. I present an argument against an approach to explaining intentional identity, defended by Nathan Salmon, Terence Parsons and others, that involves positing exotic objects. For example, those who adopt this sort of view say that when two astronomers had beliefs about Vulcan, their attitudes had a common focus because there is an exotic object that both of their beliefs were about. I argue that countenancing these (...)
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