In this brief reply I respond to criticisms of my book, The referential mechanism of proper names, from Michael Devitt and Nicolo D'Agruma. I focus on the question of whether the perspectivism advocated in the book explains the empirical results there detailed.
In this paper, we aim to trace the origin of the systematic cross-cultural variations in referential intuitions by investigating the effects of perspective taking on people’s responses in the Gödel-style probes through two novel experiments. Here is how we will proceed. In section 2, we first briefly introduce the MMNS (2004) study, and then critically review the two relevant studies conducted by Sytsma and colleagues (i.e., Sytsma and Livengood 2011; Sytsma et al. 2015). In section 3, we introduce the literature (...) on cross-cultural variation in perspective taking in cultural psychology, which together with the conjecture of perspectival ambiguity leads to the hypothesis of our current study. In sections 4 and 5, two new experiments on how perspective taking affects people’s responses in hypothetical stories modelled on the Gödel thought experiment will be reported. Based on the empirical findings, in section 6 we argue that the robust cross-cultural variations thus far observed in people’s responses to the Gödel cases are largely attributable to culturally specific perspective-taking strategies, which provides new support for the proposal previously made by Sytsma and Livengood (2011). The implications of the experimental results for the ongoing work of testing the theories of refence of names and for the current metaphilosophical debate on the robustness of philosopher’s intuitions are also drawn in this section. Finally, the major conclusions and contributions of the current study are highlighted in section 7. (shrink)
This dissertation explores the prospects of postdeflationary substantive theorizing about truth. Postdeflationary theories define the concept of truth or the property of being a true truthbearer in a way that respects the deflationary desiderata of clarity, purity, and permissiveness with truth-aptness, without a necessary commitment to the core negative thesis of the deflationary approach. Postdeflationary substantive theories further acknowledge the complexity and explanatory utility of truth in understanding and defining other concepts and phenomena. The motivation for pursuing this study arises (...) from the so-called contemporary crisis of truth, where a substantive understanding of truth is subjected to widespread skepticism, critique, and even cynicism both inside and outside of philosophy in formal and mundane discourse. To better understand this crisis, particular attention is directed towards the deflationary critique of substantive theories of truth, which is a prevalent point of discussion in contemporary literature on western analytic philosophy. By exploring the limits and philosophical sustainability of deflationary critique of substantive accounts of truth, valuable insight is gained about the contemporary crisis of truth and the potential for substantive theorizing about truth in general. This dissertation composes of an introduction and four original research publications that address two connected themes: exploration of the philosophical sustainability of deflationary critique of substantive theories of truth, and exploration of the prospects for development of the now popular substantive pluralist theories of truth. These themes constitute both negative and positive aspects in relation to analyzing the prospects of postdeflationary substantive theorizing about truth. The first part of this dissertation focuses on arguing against the widespread deflationary readings of W.V.O. Quine’s truth, who is widely interpreted as a prominent and influential deflationist in both the secondary literature on his philosophy and contemporary truth-theoretic debates more broadly conceived. The first essay demonstrates that Quine’s immanent conception of truth involves commitments that are incompatible with general and theory-specific framings of the deflationary thesis. The second essay demonstrates conflicts between Quine’s views and what has in recent literature been argued as strong and moderate variants of the deflationary thesis. In conclusion, these essays demonstrate that the widespread deflationary readings of Quine’s truth are mistaken, thus removing a prominent thinker from the deflationists ranks while simultaneously casting suspicion towards the philosophical sustainability of the deflationary approach in general. The second part of this dissertation explores the prospects of postdeflationary substantive theorizing about truth by analyzing the limits and prospects for development of the increasingly popular substantive pluralist theories. The third essay explores different ways in which semantic ambiguity poses trouble for current pluralist models. The fourth essay argues that to achieve the theoretical desiderata that pluralists ask from discourse domains, the latter ought to be individuated on ontological rather than topical grounds. In conclusion, these essays demonstrate that while current pluralist models involve shortcomings, they encompass potential for development and provide a viable prospect for sustainable postdeflationary substantive theorizing about truth. (shrink)
Moral metasemantic theories explain how our moral thought and talk are about certain properties. Given the connection between what our moral terms are about and which moral claims are true, it might be thought that metasemantic theorising can justify first-order ethical conclusions, thus providing a novel way of doing moral epistemology. In this paper, we spell out one kind of argument from metasemantic theories to normative ethical conclusions, and argue that it fails to transmit justification from premises to conclusion. We (...) give three reasons for this transmission failure, which together pose a serious challenge to such metasemantic arguments. (shrink)
The paper aims to add contextual dependence to the new directival theory of meaning, a functional role semantics based on Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz’s directival theory of meaning. We show that the original formulation of the theory does not have a straight answer on how the meaning of indexicals and demonstratives is established. We illustrate it in the example of some problematic axiomatic and inferential directives containing indexicals. We show that the main reason why developing the new directival theory of meaning in (...) this direction is difficult is that the theory focuses on the notion of a sentence (and not the notion of an utterance). To add the latter notion to the theory, we introduce the idea of admissible contextual distribution being an interpretation of the hybrid expression view on indexicals and demonstratives. We argue that this idea introduces a small but important modification to the concept of language matrix and gives way to define two distinct concepts of meaning: for an expression type and for a use of an expression type. (shrink)
This paper presents Elmar Unnsteinsson’s novel theory of Edenic Intentionalism, on which a speaker cannot refer to an object when the speaker is relevantly confused about its identity. A challenge to the theory is presented and several possible responses considered. The challenge is this: According to Edenic Intentionalism, reference often fails even when speakers seem to refer successfully. Elmar therefore supplements Edenic Intentionalism with an explanation of how communication can succeed without reference. If such an explanation is available, it isn’t (...) clear what need there is for Edenic Intentionalism. (shrink)
The Millian semantic view of names relies on a metaphysical view of names—often given the label ‘common currency conception’ —on which the names of distinct individuals count as distinct names. While even defenders of the Millian view admit that the CCC ‘does not agree with the most common usage’, I will argue further that the CCC makes names exceptional amongst the class of linguistic expressions: if the CCC is correct, then names must have a sui-generis metaphysical nature, distinct from the (...) metaphysics of every other kind of linguistic expression. Such metaphysical exceptionalism would be justified if the Millian view had a clear, uncontested theoretical advantage over its rivals. However, in the context of a semantic debate about names in which the closest competitors of the Millian view—the Predicate view and Indexicalism—do not result in such exceptionalism, it counts as a strike against the Millian view. (shrink)
The kinds of real or natural kinds that support explanation and prediction in the social sciences are difficult to identify and track because they change through time, intersect with one another, and they do not always exhibit their properties when one encounters them. As a result, conceptual practices directed at these kinds will often refer in ways that are partial, equivocal, or redundant. To improve this epistemic situation, it is important to employ open-ended classificatory concepts, to understand when different research (...) programs are tracking the same real kind, and to maintain an ongoing commitment to interact causally with real kinds to focus reference on those kinds. A tempting view of these non-idealized epistemic conditions should be avoided: that they signal an ontological structure of the social world so plentiful that it would permit ameliorated classificatory schemes to achieve their normative aims regardless of whether they defer to real-kind classificatory schemes. To ground these discussions, the essay appeals to an overlooked convergence in the systematic naturalistic frameworks of Richard Boyd and Ruth Millikan. (shrink)
Özet: Bu metindeki amacım Kripke’nin kurgu çözümlemesinde özel adlar ve adımsılar (pretended name) arasındaki ilişkiyi ele almak. Kripke için özel adlar değişmez imleyicilerdir (rigid designator), yani tek bir varlığı/şeyi var olduğu tüm olanaklı dünyalarda biricik belirlerler. Adımsılar ise kurgusal söylemde ortaya çıkan kurgunun taslamasının bir parçasıdır; yani kurgu dünyadaki karakterlerin adlarıdır. Kripke’ye göre adımsılar sadece gerçek adları taklit eden fakat taklit ve benzerlik ilişkisinden öte bir ilişkileri olmayan, adlardan kategorik olarak farklı şeylerdir. Fakat Kripke için adlar ve adımsılar kategorik olarak (...) farklı olsalar da bu iki dilsel birim birbirlerini belirler gibi gözükür. Yani “Sherlock Holmes” özel adı, “Sherlock Holmes” özel adımsısı ile eşseslidir fakat bunun gerekçesi yeterince açık değildir. Bu açık olmama durumu kurgusal karakter adlandırma önermelerinin adlandırıcı açısından a priori ve olumsal mı olduğu yoksa a posteriori ve zorunlu mu olduğu sorusuyla ilişkilidir. Böylelikle bu belirleme ilişkisi ya zorunlu ya da olumsal bir ilişkidir. Ben bu belirleme ilişkisinin olumsal olduğunu savunacağım. Fakat bu belirleme ilişkisi olumsal olsa da ad ve adımsı arasında eşseslilik açısından sıkı bir ilişki olmaya devam eder. Ben bu sıkı ilişkinin genellikle kendiliğinden bir ilişki olduğunu, kurgu karakterin önce adı olabileceği gibi ilişkilendiği adımsısı da olabileceğini ve bu ayrım yeterince düşünülmediği için genellikle ad ve adımsının eşseslilik açısından çakıştığını savunacağım. Fakat ilişkilendiği adımsı ve özel adı eşsesli olmayan karakterler de olabileceğini ileri süreceğim. Son olarak ise bu dediklerimizden adımsıların geçtiği betimlemeler üretebileceğimizi ve bunlar yoluyla da kurgu varlıklara değişen imleyiciler olarak gönderimde bulunabileceğimizi savunacağım. Abstract: My purpose in the article is to explore the relation between proper names and pretended names in Kripke’s analysis of fiction. According to Kripke, proper names are rigid designators, so they designate the same object in all possible worlds in which that object exists. In contrast, pretended names are part of the pretense in fiction; they are names of fictional entities in fictional worlds. For Kripke, pretended names just pretend real names but there is no further relation apart from a similarity between them. Although in his view, names and pretended names are categorically different from each other, they seem to determine each other. That is, the proper name “Sherlock Holmes” and the pretended name “Sherlock Holmes” are homophones. However, the reason for their being homophone is not clear enough in this view. That unclarity concerns the question of whether the propositions that are used to name fictional entities are a priori contingent or a posteriori necessary. Thus, the relation of determining is either necessary or contingent. I will defend that it is contingent. However, though it is contingent, names and pretended names have a strict relation in the sense of being homophone. I will argue that this strict relation is generally a spontaneous relation; there are two possibilities: fictional entities have names before the associated pretended names come to existence or vice versa. I think names and pretended names generally coincide because this relation is not being thought thoroughly. Finally, I will defend that we can produce descriptions in which pretended names occur and we can refer to fictional entities non-rigidly via these descriptions. (shrink)
What determines the meaning of a context-sensitive expression in a context? It is standardly assumed that, for a given expression type, there will be a unitary answer to this question; most of the literature on the subject involves arguments designed to show that one particular metasemantic proposal is superior to a specific set of alternatives. The task of the present essay will be to explore whether this is a warranted assumption, or whether the quest for the one true metasemantics might (...) be a Quixotic one. We argue that there are good reasons—much better than are commonly appreciated—for thinking the latter, but that there nevertheless remains significant scope for metasemantic theorizing. We conclude by outlining our preferred option, metasemantic pluralism. (shrink)
Non-naturalism is the view that normative properties are response-independent, irreducible to natural properties, and causally inefficacious. An underexplored question for non-naturalism concerns the metasemantics of normative terms. Ideally, the non-naturalist could remain ecumenical, but it appears they cannot. Call this challenge the metasemantic challenge. This chapter suggests that non-naturalists endorse an epistemic account of reference determination of the sort recently defended by Imogen Dickie, with some modifications. An important implication of this account is that, if correct, a fully fleshed out (...) moral epistemology will simultaneously rebut metasemantic objections to non-naturalism. Thus, both the metasemantic and the more widely discussed epistemological challenges in effect amount to one. Before setting out the positive view, the chapter considers why all of the traditional metasemantic theories cause trouble for the non-naturalist. This includes discussions of teleosemantics, conceptual role semantics, as well as Schroeter and Schroeter’s “connectedness” model. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have offered compelling reasons to think that demonstratives are best represented as variables, sensitive not to the context of utterance, but to a variable assignment. Variablists typically explain familiar intuitions about demonstratives—intuitions that suggest that what is said by way of a demonstrative sentence varies systematically over contexts—by claiming that contexts initialize a particular assignment of values to variables. I argue that we do not need to link context and the assignment parameter in this way, and that we (...) would do better not to. (shrink)
Dans un article précédent, The Philosophy of blockchain technology - Ontologies, j'ai parlé de l'application de la théorie narrative de Paul Ricœur dans le développement d'une ontologie de la technologie blockchain. Dans cette section, j'ai l'intention de mettre en évidence l'idée d'une analogie entre la technologie blockchain et les théories causales de la référence. Dans la mesure où la poursuite de l'élaboration de cette idée se révélera viable, je vais essayer de développer une théorie basée sur cette analogie. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24843.21282 (...) . (shrink)
Axel Barceló has extended the objectivist apparatus for handling color terms that I develop in my book Roads to Reference, so that the extension covers also some aesthetic predicates. In this note I argue that Barceló’s extension probably attempts to go too far.
A naturalistic theory of intentionality is proposed that differs from previous evolutionary and tracking theories. Full-blown intentionality is constructed through a series of evolvable refinements. A first, minimal version of intentionality originates from a conjectured internal process that estimates an organism’s own fitness and that continually modifies the organism. This process produces the directedness of intentionality. The internal estimator can be parsed into intentional components that point to components of the process that produces fitness. It is argued that such intentional (...) components can point to mistaken or non-existing entities. Different Fregian senses of the same reference correspond to different components that have different roles in the estimator. Intentional components that point to intentional components in other organisms produce directedness towards semi-abstract entities. Finally, adding a general, population-wide means of communication enables intentional components that point to fully abstract entities. Intentionality thus naturalized has all of its expected properties: being directed; potentially making errors; possibly pointing to non-existent, abstract, or rigid entities; capable of pointing many-to-one and one-to-many; distinguishing sense and reference; having perspective and grain; and having determinate content. Several examples, such as ‘swampman’ and ‘brain-in-a-vat’, illustrate how the theory can be applied. (shrink)
This essay is devoted to the study of proper names. Although the view that sees proper names as referential singular terms is widely considered orthodoxy, there is a growing popularity to the view that proper names are predicates. This is partly because the orthodoxy faces two anomalies that Predicativism can solve: on the one hand, proper names can have multiple bearers. But multiple bearerhood is prima facie a problem to the idea that proper names have just one individual as referent. (...) On the other hand, proper names can have predicative uses. But the view that proper names are singular terms arguably does not have the resources to deal with these uses. In this dissertation I argue that the Predicate View of proper names is mistaken. In the first part of the thesis, I analyse this view in its main contentions and offer several arguments to reject it. This critical exercise provides useful insight into the life of proper names that I incorporate in my own view as follows: I argue that the behaviour of proper names should be understood in light of the wider phenomenon I call category change. Thus, I maintain, with orthodoxy, that proper names are fundamentally referential terms, but I also argue that they also have other uses, including the predicative uses highlighted by the predicativist. I also offer a semantic theory according to which proper names are polyreferential, that is, they are terms that can have more than one referent in a way that is distinct from both plural terms and general terms. This theory resolves the problem of multiple bearerhood and provides a base to account for all other uses of proper names that are not referential, i.e., common noun, adjectival and verbal uses, as semantically derived from the more fundamental referential meaning. (shrink)
Melisa Vivanco objects to my theory of the Arabic numerals in Roads to Reference that the reference fixing procedure that I postulate doesn’t exploit the morphological structure of the Arabic numerals, but it should. Against Vivanco, I argue that the procedure in question does exploit the morphological structure of the numerals in an essential way.
In philosophical semantics, a distinction has been proposed between inferential and referential lexical semantic competence. The former accounts for the relationship of words to the world, the latter for the relationship of words among themselves. Recent neuroscience research suggests that the distinction might be actually neurally implemented. That is, that inferential and referential abilities might be underpinned by two functionally independent cognitive architectures, with partly different neural realizations. This hypothesis is consistent with brain patient data, supporting the notion of a (...) functional double dissociation between inferential and referential abilities, and with neuroscience data, suggesting that inferential and referential abilities are underpinned by at least partly different regions of the human brain. The principal aim of this article is to provide the first comprehensive and critical review of the empirical evidence in favour of such hypothesis. (shrink)
Geach points out that some pairs of beliefs have a common focus despite there being, apparently, no object at that focus. For example, two or more beliefs can be directed at Vulcan even though there is no such planet. Geach introduced the label ‘intentional identity’ to pick out the relation that holds between attitudes in these cases; Geach says that ’[w]e have intentional identity when a number of people, or one person on different occasions, have attitudes with a common focus, (...) whether or not there actually is something at that focus’. In this paper, I propose a novel theory of intentional identity, the triangulation theory, and argue that it has considerable advantages over its principal rivals. My approach centers on agents’ metarepresentational beliefs about what it takes for intentional attitudes to be about particular objects. (shrink)
Nosso trabalho pretende traçar um percurso teórico sobre a referência de objetos fictícios. Para tanto, apresentamos o tratamento de Frege, Russell e Meinong com o intuito de fornecer o pano de fundo clássico sobre o qual nosso tema se encontra. Tentamos mostrar a insuficiência desse quadro clássico de teses tendo em vista suas soluções para a referência de objetos fictícios e o resultado esperado por nós. Por isso, sugerimos a linha argumentativa delineada por Kripke a partir de Naming and Necessity, (...) passando por Vacuous Names and Fictional Entities até Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures, como uma alternativa para o estudo desses objetos. Não obstante, a despeito de sua faceta inovadora, tornou-se evidente o caráter incompleto das teses lançadas por Kripke. Todavia, a importância do arranjo kripkeano é claramente percebida a partir do estudo de perspectivas artefactuais da ficção que se baseiam em muitas das teses apresentadas. Nesse sentido, utilizamos a obra Fiction and Metaphysics da filósofa norte-americana Amie Thomasson com o intuito de mostrar os resultados dessa perspectiva para o problema da referência de objetos fictícios. Após analisarmos o aparato artefactual que a autora apresenta na obra, consideramos que a teoria thomasiana oferece as soluções que melhor se conectam com as nossas práticas linguísticas sobre objetos fictícios e a forma como lidamos com o problema da sua referência. (shrink)
This paper makes an intervention into the debate between descriptivist and causal theories of reference-fixing by arguing that the two aren’t necessarily exclusive. One can formulate a theory of reference-fixing which closely mimics Kripke’s causal theory but which frames the relation between speakers in terms of descriptions rather than intentions. When a speaker utters the name, they associate the following description with the name: “the object/name that is referred to by the person I heard/read/learned the name from when they utter/write (...) ‘nn’”. The reference itself will only be successful if 1) one object, and one object only, is determined by this reference, and 2) the descriptions stretch back to an individual who is the original ‘dubber’ of the name, whose descriptive content associated with the name does not incorporate the notion of reference. The majority of this paper is dedicated to showing both the tenability and the beneficial upshots of such a theory of reference, which, I will argue, both qualifies as descriptivist by Kripke’s own standards and does not fall victim to Kripke’s famous arguments against descriptivism. I conclude by responding to some criticisms of historical chain-descriptivism, and considering its implications for the descriptivism-causal theory dispute. (shrink)
The biological race debate is at an impasse. Issues surrounding hereditarianism aside, there is little empirical disagreement left between race naturalists and anti-realists about biological race. The disagreement is now primarily semantic. This would seem to uniquely qualify philosophers to contribute to the biological race debate. However, philosophers of race are reluctant to focus on semantics, largely because of their worries about the ‘flight to reference’. In this paper, I show how philosophers can contribute to the debate without taking the (...) flight to reference. Drawing on the theory of reference literature and the history of meaning change in science, I develop some criteria for dealing with cases where there is uncertainty about reference. I then apply these criteria to the biological race debate. All of the criteria I develop for eliminating putative kinds are met in the case of ‘race’ as understood by twentieth century geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky and his contemporary proponents, suggesting that we should eliminate it from our biological ontology. (shrink)
The paper deals with the main contribution of the Finnish logician Jaakko Hintikka: epistemic logic, in particular the 'static' version of the system based on the formal analysis of the concepts of knowledge and belief. I propose to take a different look at this philosophical logic and to consider it from the opposite point of view of the philosophy of logic. At first, two theories of meaning are described and associated with two competing theories of linguistic competence. In a second (...) step, I draw the conclusion that Hintikka's epistemic logic constitutes a sort of internalisation of meaning, by the introduction of epistemic modal operators into an object language. In this respect, to view meaning as the result of a linguistic competence makes epistemic logic nothing less than a logic of unified meaning and understanding. (shrink)
This paper is a contribution to the debate concerning the kind of philosophical conclusions that can (or cannot) be derived from systematic empirical studies of intuitions about the reference of proper names. The focus of the paper is the famous study by Machery et al. (2004) in which intercultural differences in semantic intuitions between American and Chinese participants were observed. Machery et al. used the obtained results to question the usefulness of intuitions in philosophical discussions concerning the reference of proper (...) names. In this paper, I present the results of my own philosophical-experimental studies aimed at analyzing methods used in research dedicated to the problem of reference rather than semantic intuitions as such. These results indicate a significant instability of responses regarding the reference of proper names and their susceptibility to the impact of philosophically insignificant factors. Based on the collected data, I argue that methods used in experimental studies concerning the reference of proper names conducted to date do not guarantee the assessment of intuitions of the desired kind. (shrink)
Reductionist realist accounts of certain entities, such as the natural numbers and propositions, have been taken to be fatally undermined by what we may call the problem of arbitrary identification. The problem is that there are multiple and equally adequate reductions of the natural numbers to sets (see Benacerraf, 1965), as well as of propositions to unstructured or structured entities (see, e.g., Bealer, 1998; King, Soames, & Speaks, 2014; Melia, 1992). This paper sets out to solve the problem by canvassing (...) what we may call the arbitrary reference strategy. The main claims of such strategy are 2. First, we do not know which objects are the referents of proposition and numerical terms since their reference is fixed arbitrarily. Second, our ignorance of which object is picked out as the referent does not entail that no object is referred to by the relevant expression. Different articulations of the strategy are assessed, and a new one is defended. (shrink)
Queremos neste ensaio introduzir um esboço de uma semântica simples e adequada para uma classe importante de predicações singulares de inexistência, ou frases existenciais singulares negativas. Frases deste género, como “Sócrates (já) não existe” e “O pássaro Dódó não existe”, são usualmente tidas como de algum modo paradoxais e semanticamente problemáticas. O modelo semântico que vamos delinear para tais frases, que desejavelmente se caracteriza pela simplicidade e pela economia, depende no entanto de duas importantes e substantivas suposições de partida, e, (...) mais crucialmente, de uma tese semântica de alguma maneira controversa acerca da referência singular. Trata-se da tese da rigidez obstinada, a tese de que nomes próprios e outros termos irredutivelmente singulares – tais como indexicais, demonstrativos e termos para categorias naturais – são designadores, não apenas rígidos, mas obstinadamente rígidos, dos objectos que de facto designam. (shrink)
Abstract: We propose a dichotomy between object-entities and meaning-entities. The former are entities such as molecules, cells, organisms, organizations, numbers, shapes, and so forth. The latter are entities such as concepts, propositions, and theories belonging to the realm of logic. Frege distinguished analogously between a ‘realm of reference’ and a ‘realm of sense’, which he presented in some passages as mutually exclusive. This however contradicts his assumption elsewhere that every entity is a referent (even Fregean senses can be referred to (...) by means of suitably constructed expressions). We apply the meaning/object dichotomy to mathematical and fictional entities, and develop a view of mathematical and other abstract objects as the results of certain types of demarcation – as for example the North Sea is the result of demarcations built into naval charts. Such demarcations reflect demarcatory acts, which presuppose complex cognitive and social structures enabling the creation of maps, of theories (of mathematics, of natural science), and of novels. (shrink)
The truthmaker theory rests on the thesis that the link between a true judgment and that in the world to which it corresponds is not a one-to-one but rather a one-to-many relation. An analogous thesis in relation to the link between a singular term and that in the world to which it refers is already widely accepted. This is the thesis to the effect that singular reference is marked by vagueness of a sort that is best understood in supervaluationist terms. (...) In what follows we show that the supervaluationist approach to singular reference, when wedded to the truthmaker idea, yields a framework of surprising power, which offers a uniform set of solutions to a range of problems regarding identity, reference and knowledge, problems which have hitherto been dealt with on an ad hoc basis. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to lay out a number of theses which are very widely held in contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and to argue that, given some extra theses for which I’ll argue, they are inconsistent. Some of this will involve going through some very well-trodden territory—my hope is that presenting this familiar ground in the way that I do will help to make plain the problem that I aim to identify.
I argue that fidelity to the context principle requires us to construe reference as a theoretical relation. This point helps us understand the bearing of Putnam's permutation argument on the idea of a systematic theory of meaning. Notwithstanding objections that have been made against Putnam's deployment of that argument, it shows the reference relation to be indeterminate. But since the indeterminacy of reference arises from a metalinguistic perspective, our ability, as object‐language speakers, to talk about the ordinary features of our (...) lives is unaffected. (shrink)
A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
‘Why does language matter to philosophy?’ is the name of a minor classic by Ian Hacking published in 1975. It’s a good question. Among the many charges laid against academic philosophy, one of the more familiar is that it concerns itself excessively with verbal or ‘merely semantic’ questions, at the expense of the real questions of philosophy. And yet those who have made a serious attempt to engage with philosophical problems quite soon finds themselves grappling with the very words they (...) use to formulate the problems. (shrink)
Ordinary language makes a distinction between knowing a person by having seen her before and knowing her “personally,” that is, by having interacted with her. The aim of my paper is to substantiate this distinction between knowledge by interaction and knowledge by acquaintance, that is, knowledge acquired by way of the senses. According to my view, knowledge of a person by interaction is the kind of knowledge sustained by addressing her as “you.” I claim that this second-person knowledge is essentially (...) of the same form as first-person knowledge, which is knowledge sustained by the capacity to use the first-person pronoun, “I.” Both are species of what I will call, in a Kantian manner of speaking, knowledge from spontaneity. In knowing each other as “you” and “I,” two persons united in a second-personal interaction are and spontaneously know each other as the joint subject of their act. Hence knowledge by interaction—the kind of knowledge which grounds the everyday conception of knowing someone “personally”—is necessarily shared. To say that A knows B in this manner implies—in fact, it is the same thing as saying—that B knows A, it is to say that A and B know each other. This is what constitutes knowledge by interaction as a sui generis kind of knowledge of persons. (shrink)
One of the central debates in the philosophy of language is that between defenders of the causal-historical and descriptivist theories of reference. Most philosophers involved in the debate support one or the other of the theories. Building on recent experimental work in semantics, we argue that there is a sense in which both theories are correct. In particular, we defend the view that natural kind terms can sometimes take on a causal-historical reading and at other times take on a descriptivist (...) reading. The meaning will shift depending on the conversational setting. The theoretical view has roots in work by Kitcher. We present some original experiments that support the thesis. (shrink)
Following his recently expanded _The Problem of the Essential Indexical and Other Essays,_ John Perry develops a reflexive-referential' account of indexicals, demonstratives and proper names. On these issues the philosophy of language in the twentieth century was shaped by two competing traditions, descriptivist and referentialist. Oddly, the classic referentialist texts of the 1970s by Kripke, Donnellan, Kaplan and others were seemingly refuted almost a century earlier by co-reference and no-reference problems raised by Russell and Frege. Perry's theory, borrowing ideas from (...) both traditions as well as from Burks and Reichenbach, diagnoses the problems as stemming from a fixation on a certain kind of content, coined referential or fully incremental. Referentialist tradition is portrayed as holding that indexicals contribute content that involves individuals without identifying conditions on them; descriptivist tradition is portrayed as holding that referential content does not explain all of the identifying conditions conveyed by names and indexicals. Perry reveals a coherent and structured family of contents — from reflexive contents that place conditions on their actual utterance to fully incremental contents that place conditions only on the objects of reference — reconciling the legitimate insights of both traditions. (shrink)
A century after ‘On Denoting’ was published, the debate it initiated continues to rage. On the one hand, there is a mass of new historical scholarship, about both Russell and Meinong, which has not circulated very far beyond specialist scholars. On the other hand, there are continuing problems and controversies concerning contemporary Russellian and Meinongian theories, many of them involving issues that simply did not occur to the original protagonists. This work provides an overview of the latest historical scholarship on (...) the two philosophers as well as detailed accounts of some of the problems facing the current incarnations of their theories. (shrink)
In this paper we address the issue of grounding for experiential concepts. Given that perceptual demonstratives are a basic form of such concepts, we examine ways of fixing the referents of such demonstratives. To avoid ‘encodingism’, that is, relating representations to representations, we postulate that the process of reference fixing must be bottom-up and nonconceptual, so that it can break the circle of conceptual content and touch the world. For that purpose, an appropriate causal relation between representations and the world (...) is needed. We claim that this relation is provided by spatial and object-centered attention that leads to the formation of object files through the function of deictic acts. This entire causal process takes place at a pre-conceptual level, meeting the requirement for a solution to the grounding problem. Finally we claim that our account captures fundamental insights in Putnam’s and Kripke’s work on “new” reference. (shrink)
_Language, Names, and Information_ is an important contribution to philosophy of language by one of its foremost scholars, challenging the pervasive view that the description theory of proper names is dead in the water, and defending a version of the description theory from a perspective on language that sees words as a wonderful source of information about the nature of the world we live in. Challenges current pervasive view that the description theory of reference for proper names has been refuted (...) Discusses several topics at the center of current debates, including representation and information, two-dimensionalism, possible worlds, and broad vs. narrow content Maintains the conversational and somewhat informal tone of the original lectures upon which the book is based. (shrink)
One reason to think that names have a predicate-type semantic value is that they naturally occur in count-noun positions: ‘The Michaels in my building both lost their keys’; ‘I know one incredibly sharp Cecil and one that's incredibly dull’. Predicativism is the view that names uniformly occur as predicates. Predicativism flies in the face of the widely accepted view that names in argument position are referential, whether that be Millian Referentialism, direct-reference theories, or even Fregean Descriptivism. But names are predicates (...) in all of their occurrences; they are predicates that are true of their bearers. When a name appears as a bare singular in argument position, it really occupies the predicate position of what in this essay is called a denuded definite description: a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. Sloat provided good evidence for this. The definite article is sometimes pronounced with names in the singular: ‘The Ivan we all love doesn't feel well’. Sloat proposed a disjunctive generalization of when the definite article must be pronounced with a singular name. This essay shows that by slightly revising Sloat's generalization, we arrive at a simple, nondisjunctive, syntactic rule that governs the overt appearance of the definite article with singular names. But Ivan does not necessarily bear the name ‘Ivan’, so one might worry that the sentence “Ivan might not have had ‘Ivan’ as a name” would incorrectly be predicted false. This essay shows that Predicativism does not have this consequence by showing that incomplete definite descriptions in general and incomplete denuded descriptions, such as ‘Øthe Ivan’, in particular are rigid designators. (shrink)