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Names Are Predicates

Philosophical Review 124 (1):59-117 (2015)

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  1. Review of Dolf Rami’s ‘Names and Context: A Use-Sensitive Philosophical Account’. [REVIEW]Nikhil Mahant - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-5.
  • Propositions as (Flexible) Types of Possibilities.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman & Adam Russell Murray (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions. Routledge.
    This chapter is about type-theoretic approaches to propositional content. Type-theoretic approaches to propositional content originate with Hintikka, Stalnaker, and Lewis, and involve treating attitude environments (e.g. "Nate thinks") as universal quantifiers over domains of "doxastic possibilities" -- ways things could be, given what the subject thinks. -/- This chapter introduces and motivates a line of a type-theoretic theorizing about content that is an outgrowth of the recent literature on epistemic modality, according to which contentful thought is broadly "informational" in its (...)
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  • A Problem for Predicativism Solved by Predicativism.Delia Graff Fara - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):362-370.
    Consider the following sentences: In every race, the colt won; In every race, John won.John Hawthorne and David Manley say that the difference between these two sentences raises a problem for Predicativism about names. According to the currently more standard version of Predicativism, a bare singular name in argument position, like ‘John’ in , is embedded in a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. The problem is supposed to be that permits a covarying reading that allows for different races (...)
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  • Frege’s Puzzle is About Identity After All.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):628-643.
    Many philosophers have argued or taken for granted that Frege's puzzle has little or nothing to do with identity statements. I show that this is wrong, arguing that the puzzle can only be motivated relative to a thinker's beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the relevant object. The result is important, as it suggests that the puzzle can be solved, not by a semantic theory of names or referring expressions as such, but simply by a theory of identity statements. (...)
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  • Rigid Designators.Joseph LaPorte - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Names in Strange Places.Aidan Gray - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (5):429-472.
    This paper is about how to interpret and evaluate purported evidence for predicativism about proper names. I aim to point out some underappreciated thorny issues and to offer both predicativists and non-predicativists some advice about how best to pursue their respective projects. I hope to establish three related claims: that non-predicativists have to posit relatively exotic, though not entirely implausible, polysemic mechanisms to capture the range of data that predicativists have introduced ; that neither referentialism nor extant versions of predicativism (...)
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  • In Defense of Donnellan on Proper Names.Antonio Capuano - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1289-1312.
    Kripke’s picture of how people use names to refer to things has been the dominant view in contemporary philosophy of language. When it is mentioned at all, Donnellan’s view of proper names is considered the same as Kripke’s. It is certainly true that both Donnellan and Kripke rejected descriptivism about proper names and appealed to historical facts to determine whom a speaker is referring to by using a proper name. However, the relevant historical facts Kripke and Donnellan appeal to are (...)
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  • Names Vs Nouns.Laura Delgado - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies (online):1-26.
    This paper takes issue with the predicativist’s identification of proper names and common count nouns. Although Predicativism emerges precisely to account for certain syntactic facts about proper names, namely, that they behave like common count nouns on occasions, it seems clear that proper names and common count nouns have different properties, and this undermines the thesis that proper names are in fact just common count nouns. The predicativist’s strategy to bridge these differences is to postulate an unpronounced determiner to go (...)
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  • Definiteness and Determinacy.Elizabeth Coppock & David Beaver - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (5):377-435.
    This paper distinguishes between definiteness and determinacy. Definiteness is seen as a morphological category which, in English, marks a uniqueness presupposition, while determinacy consists in denoting an individual. Definite descriptions are argued to be fundamentally predicative, presupposing uniqueness but not existence, and to acquire existential import through general type-shifting operations that apply not only to definites, but also indefinites and possessives. Through these shifts, argumental definite descriptions may become either determinate or indeterminate. The latter option is observed in examples like (...)
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  • Semantics Without Semantic Content.Daniel W. Harris - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (3):304-328.
    I argue that semantics is the study of the proprietary database of a centrally inaccessible and informationally encapsulated input–output system. This system’s role is to encode and decode partial and defeasible evidence of what speakers are saying. Since information about nonlinguistic context is therefore outside the purview of semantic processing, a sentence’s semantic value is not its content but a partial and defeasible constraint on what it can be used to say. I show how to translate this thesis into a (...)
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  • Meaning Transfer Revisited.David Liebesman & Ofra Magidor - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):254-297.
  • Philosophical Investigation Series: Selected Texts on Metaphysics, Language and Mind / Série Investigação Filosófica: Textos Selecionados de Metafísica, Linguagem e Mente.Rodrigo Cid & Pedro Merlussi (eds.) - 2020 - Pelotas: Editora da UFPel / NEPFIL Online.
    Um dos grandes desafios da era da informação consiste em filtrar informações claras, rigorosas e atualizadas sobre tópicos importantes. O mesmo vale para a filosofia. Como encontrar conteúdo filosófico confiável em meio a milhares de artigos publicados diariamente na internet? Para ir ainda mais longe, como encontrar uma introdução a algum tópico com uma lista de referências bibliográficas atualizadas e que seja organizada por um especialista da área? Já que você começou a ler este livro, é provável que tenha ouvido (...)
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  • Semantics with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This book combines insights from philosophy and linguistics to develop a novel framework for theorizing about linguistic meaning and the role of context in interpretation. A key innovation is to introduce explicit representations of context — assignment variables — in the syntax and semantics of natural language. The proposed theory systematizes a spectrum of “shifting” phenomena in which the context relevant for interpreting certain expressions depends on features of the linguistic environment. Central applications include local and nonlocal contextual dependencies with (...)
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  • The Importance of Being Ernesto: Reference, Truth and Logical Form.A. Bianchi, V. Morato & G. Spolaore (eds.) - 2016 - Padova: Padova University Press.
  • Against Predicativism About Names.Jeonggyu Lee - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (1):243-261.
    According to predicativism about names, names which occur in argument positions have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. In this paper, I shall argue that these bare singular names do not have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. I will present three objections to predicativism—the modal, the epistemic, and the translation objections—and show that they succeed even against the more sophisticated versions of predicativism defended by Fara and Bach.
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  • Sense, Reference and Contemporary Predicativism.Karen Green - 2022 - Semiotica 245 (245):99-123.
    Contributing to the debate between referentialist and predicativist accounts of the semantics of proper names, this paper partly endorses a recent trend to reject unitary accounts of their semantics. It does so by restoring a Fregean version of the variety of use account. It criticizes alternative variety of use accounts for not clearly distinguishing pragmatic, syntactic, and semantic issues and argues that, once these are distinguished, the necessity of accepting that names have a variety of uses, and are sometimes logical (...)
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  • Referentialism and Predicativism About Proper Names.Robin Jeshion - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S2):363-404.
    Overview The debate over the semantics of proper names has, of late, heated up, focusing on the relative merits of referentialism and predicativism. Referentialists maintain that the semantic function of proper names is to designate individuals. They hold that a proper name, as it occurs in a sentence in a context of use, refers to a specific individual that is its referent and has just that individual as its semantic content, its contribution to the proposition expressed by the sentence. Furthermore, (...)
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  • The “Cicero”/“Cicero” Puzzling Case.Paolo Bonardi - 2021 - Theoria 87 (3):628-642.
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  • Paradoxes of the Always Already.Victor Peterson - forthcoming - Philosophical Forum.
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  • Linguistic Evidence Against Predicativism.Wolfram Hinzen - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (10):591-608.
    The view that proper names are uniformly predicates has recently gained prominence. I review linguistic evidence against it. Overall, the linguistic evidence suggests that proper names function as predicates when they appear in a grammatically predicative position and as referential expressions when they are grammatically in a referential position. Conceptual grounds on which the predicativist view might nonetheless be upheld include ‘uniformity’, i.e., that a single semantic value be lexically specified for names in all of their occurrences irrespective of differences (...)
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  • Resolving Frege’s Other Puzzle.Eric Snyder, Richard Samuels & Stewart Shapiro - 2022 - Philosophica Mathematica 30 (1):59-87.
    Number words seemingly function both as adjectives attributing cardinality properties to collections, as in Frege’s ‘Jupiter has four moons’, and as names referring to numbers, as in Frege’s ‘The number of Jupiter’s moons is four’. This leads to what Thomas Hofweber calls Frege’s Other Puzzle: How can number words function as modifiers and as singular terms if neither adjectives nor names can serve multiple semantic functions? Whereas most philosophers deny that one of these uses is genuine, we instead argue that (...)
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  • Interpreting plural predication: homogeneity and non-maximality.Manuel Križ & Benjamin Spector - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (5):1131-1178.
    Plural definite descriptions across many languages display two well-known properties. First, they can give rise to so-called non-maximal readings, in the sense that they ‘allow for exceptions’. Second, while they tend to have a quasi-universal quantificational force in affirmative sentences, they tend to be interpreted existentially in the scope of negation. Building on previous works, we offer a theory in which sentences containing plural definite expressions trigger a family of possible interpretations, and where general principles of language use account for (...)
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  • Predicative Names.Pierre Baumann - 2018 - Cadernos Do Pet Filosofia 9 (18):95-108.
    This paper argues that proper names may have literal non-referential truth-conditional values, thereby undermining the notion of semantic reference.
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  • ‘The’ Problem for the-Predicativism.Robin Jeshion - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (2):219-240.
    Clarence Sloat, Ora Matushansky, and Delia Graff Fara advocate a Syntactic Rationale on behalf of predicativism, the view that names are predicates in all of their occurrences. Each argues that a set of surprising syntactic data compels us to recognize names as a special variety of count noun. This data set, they say, reveals that names’ interaction with the determiner system differs from that of common count nouns only with respect to the definite article ‘the’. They conclude that this special (...)
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  • The Predicative Predicament.Anders J. Schoubye - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):571-595.
    The-Predicativism is the view that names are count nouns. For example, the meaning of the name ‘Louise’ is roughly the property of being called Louise. Moreover, proponents of this view maintain that names that are ostensibly in argument position of a predicate are covert definite descriptions. In recent years, The-Predicativism has acquired a number of new supporters, mainly Elbourne (), Matushansky (), and Fara (). And while it was pointed out by Kripke () that these kinds of views generally struggle (...)
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  • Descriptions Which Have Grown Capital Letters.Brian Rabern - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (3):292-319.
    Almost entirely ignored in the linguistic theorising on names and descriptions is a hybrid form of expression which, like definite descriptions, begin with 'the' but which, like proper names, are capitalised and seem to lack descriptive content. These are expressions such as the following, 'the Holy Roman Empire', 'the Mississippi River', or 'the Space Needle'. Such capitalised descriptions are ubiquitous in natural language, but to which linguistic categories do they belong? Are they simply proper names? Or are they definite descriptions (...)
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  • Names.Sam Cumming - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Speaker's Reference, Semantic Reference, Sneaky Reference.Eliot Michaelson - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    According to what is perhaps the dominant picture of reference, what a referential term refers to in a context is determined by what the speaker intends for her audience to identify as the referent. I argue that this sort of broadly Gricean view entails, counterintuitively, that it is impossible to knowingly use referential terms in ways that one expects or intends to be misunderstood. Then I sketch an alternative which can better account for such opaque uses of language, or what (...)
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  • The Predicate View of Proper Names.Kent Bach - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (11):772-784.
    The Millian view that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent has long been popular among philosophers of language. It might even be deemed the orthodox view, despite its well-known difficulties. Fregean and Russellian alternatives, though widely discussed, are much less popular. The Predicate View has not even been taken seriously, at least until fairly recently, but finally, it is receiving the attention it deserves. It says that a name expresses the property of bearing that name. Despite (...)
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  • Nothing, Everything, Something!Achille C. Varzi - forthcoming - In The Meaning of Something. Rethinking the Logic and the Unity of Metaphysics. Springer.
    Universalist and nihilist answers to philosophical questions may be extreme, but they are clear enough. Aliquidist answers, by contrast, are typically caught between the Scylla of vagueness and indeterminacy and the Charybdis of ungroundedness and arbitrariness, and steering a proper middle course—saying exactly where in the middle one is going to settle—demands exceptional navigating powers. I myself tend to favor extreme answers precisely for this reason. Here, however, I consider one sense in which Something may claim superiority over its polar (...)
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  • Positing Covert Variables and the Quantifier Theory of Tense.Matthew McKeever - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (5-6):624-645.
    ABSTRACT A crucial issue in the debate about the correct treatment of natural language tense concerns covert variables: do we have reason to think there are any in the syntax, as the quantifier theorist maintains? If not, it seems we can quickly discount the quantifier theory from consideration, without even considering the data in its favour. And, indeed, there is a good reason to doubt that there are such variables: contemporary syntactic theory, notably, does not seem to posit them. I (...)
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  • A Hyperintensional Theory of (Empty) Names.Miloš Kosterec - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    This paper presents an original semantic theory of proper names that aims to cover both non-empty and empty proper names. According to the theory, proper names have simple assignable hyperintensions as their content. This content provides the referent for which the proper name stands. The paper further describes the role of the proposed content of proper names within the compositional semantics of problematic sentences. I stress the difference between the content of a sentence and the proposition denoted by that sentence.
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  • Lexical Individuation and Predicativism About Names.Aidan Gray - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):113-123.
    Predicativism about names—the view that names are metalinguistic predicates—has yet to confront a foundational issue: how are names represented in the lexicon? I provide a positive characterization of the structure of the lexicon from the point of view Predicativism. I proceed to raise a problem for Predicativism on the basis of that characterization, focusing on cases in which individuals have names which are spelled the same way but pronounced differently. Finally, I introduce two potential strategies for solving the problem, and (...)
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  • In Defense of the Unification Argument for Predicativism.Sajed Tayebi - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (5):557-576.
    The unification argument, usually regarded as the main argument for predicativism about proper names, has recently been attacked by Robin Jeshion. According to Jeshion, the unification argument is based on the assumption of the literality of predicative uses of proper names in statements such as “There is one Alfred in Princeton.” In such a use, a proper name ‘N’ is used predicatively to denote those, and only those, objects called N. As Jeshion argues, however, there are many other examples in (...)
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  • Lexical-Rule Predicativism About Names.Aidan Gray - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5549-5569.
    Predicativists hold that proper names have predicate-type semantic values. They face an obvious challenge: in many languages names normally occur as, what appear to be, grammatical arguments. The standard version of predicativism answers this challenge by positing an unpronounced determiner in bare occurrences. I argue that this is a mistake. Predicativists should draw a distinction between two kinds of semantic type—underived semantic type and derived semantic type. The predicativist thesis concerns the underived semantic type of proper names and underdetermines a (...)
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  • On Being Called Something.Geoff Georgi - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (6):595-619.
    Building on recent work by Delia Graff Fara and Ora Matushansky on appellative constructions like ‘Mirka called Roger handsome’, I argue that if Millianism about proper names is true, then the quantifier ‘something’ in ‘Mirka called Roger something’ is best understood as a kind of substitutional quantifier. Any adequate semantics for such quantifiers must explain both the logical behavior of ‘Mirka called Roger something’ and the acceptability of ‘so’-anaphora in ‘Mirka called Roger something, and everyone so called is handsome’. Millianism (...)
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  • Can Minimalism About Truth Embrace Polysemy?Katarzyna Kijania-Placek - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):955-985.
    Paul Horwich is aware of the fact that his theory as stated in his works is directly applicable only to a language in which a word, understood as a syntactic type, is connected with exactly one literal meaning. Yet he claims that the theory is expandable to include homonymy and indexicality and thus may be considered as applicable to natural language. My concern in this paper is with yet another kind of ambiguity—systematic polysemy—that assigns multiple meanings to one linguistic type. (...)
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  • Against Rigidity for Natural Kind Terms.Stephen P. Schwartz - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 12):2957-2971.
    Rigid expressionism is the view that all natural kind terms and many other kind terms are rigid designators. Rigid expressionists embrace the ‘overgeneralization’ of rigidity, since they hold that not just natural kind terms but all unstructured kind terms are rigid designators. Unfortunately overgeneralization remains a defeating problem for rigid expressionism. It runs together natural kind terms and nominal kind terms in a way that enforces a false semantic uniformity. The Kripke/putnam view of natural kind terms minus the claim of (...)
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  • On the Unification Argument for the Predicate View on Proper Names.Dolf Rami - 2014 - Synthese 191 (5):1-22.
    The predicate view on proper names 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 proper names. My paper aims to provide a reconstruction and critique of Burge’s main argument for the predicate view on proper (...)
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  • Speaker’s Reference, Semantic Reference, and Intuition.Richard Heck - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):251-269.
    Some years ago, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich reported the results of experiments that reveal, they claim, cross-cultural differences in speaker’s ‘intuitions’ about Kripke’s famous Gödel–Schmidt case. Several authors have suggested, however, that the question they asked their subjects is ambiguous between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. Machery and colleagues have since made a number of replies. It is argued here that these are ineffective. The larger lesson, however, concerns the role that first-order philosophy should, and more importantly should not, (...)
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  • Disquotation, Translation, and Context-Dependence.Richard Kimberly Heck - manuscript
    It has been known for some time that context-dependence poses a problem for disquotationalism, but the problem has largely been regarded as one of detail: one that will be solved by the right sort of cleverness. I argue here that the problem is one of principle and that extant solutions, which are based upon the notion of translation, cannot succeed.
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  • Common Nouns as Modally Non-Rigid Restricted Variables.Peter Lasersohn - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2):363-424.
    I argue that common nouns should be analyzed as variables, rather than as predicates which take variables as arguments. This necessitates several unusual features to the analysis, such as allowing variables to be modally non-rigid, and assigning their values compositionally. However, treating common nouns as variables offers a variety of theoretical and empirical advantages over a more traditional analysis: It predicts the conservativity of nominal quantification, simplifies the analysis of articleless languages, derives the weak reading of sentences with donkey anaphora, (...)
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  • Quinean predicativism.Michael Rieppel - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (1):23-44.
    In Word and Object, Quine proposed that names be treated as the predicate elements of covert descriptions, expressing the property of being identical to the named individual. More recently, many theorists have proposed a predicativist view according which a referential name expresses the property of being called by that name. Whereas this Being-Called Predicativism has received much attention in the recent literature, Quinean Predicativism has not. This neglect is undeserved. In this paper, I argue, first, that close appositive constructions suggest (...)
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  • Names Are Variables.Anders J. Schoubye - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (1):53-94.
    MILLIANISM and DESCRIPTIVISM are without question the two most prominent views with respect to the semantics of proper names. However, debates between MILLIANS and DESCRIPTIVISTS have tended to focus on a fairly narrow set of linguistic data and an equally narrow set of problems, mainly how to solve with Frege's puzzle and how to guarantee rigidity. In this article, the author focuses on a set of data that has been given less attention in these debates—namely, so-called predicative uses, bound uses, (...)
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  • Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Vol. 2. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.
    In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...)
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  • Representation Without Thought: Confusion, Reference, and Communication.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2015 - Dissertation, CUNY Graduate Center
    I develop and argue for a novel theory of the mental state of identity confusion. I also argue that this mental state can corrupt the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication. Finally, I propose a theory according to which identity confusion should be treated as a the source of a new sort of linguistic performance error, similar to malapropism, slips of the tongue, and so-called intentional obfuscation (inducing false belief by manipulating language in specific ways). -/- Going into (...)
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  • Between Singularity and Generality: The Semantic Life of Proper Names.Laura Delgado - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):381-417.
    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 a problem to the idea that proper names have just one individual as referent. On the other hand, as Burge noted, proper names can have predicative (...)
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  • Indexicals and Names in Proverbs.Katarzyna Kijania-Placek - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 46 (1):59-78.
    This paper offers an analysis of indexical expressions and proper names as they are used in proverbs. Both indexicals and proper names contribute properties rather than objects to the propositions expressed when they are used in sentences interpreted as proverbs. According to the proposal, their contribution is accounted for by the mechanism of descriptive anaphora. Indexicals with rich linguistic meaning, such as ‘I’, ‘you’ or ‘today’, turn out to be cases of the attributive uses of indexicals, i.e. uses whose contribution (...)
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  • Names and Individuals.André Bazzoni - 2016 - In P. Stalmaszczyk & L. F. Moreno (eds.), Philosophical approaches to proper names. Peter Lang. pp. 123-146.
    The fact that names refer to individuals is a basic assumption of referentialist theories of proper names, but the notion of individual is systematically taken for granted in those theories. The present paper follows that basic assumption, but proposes to analyze the notion of individual prior to the development of any semantic theory of proper names. It will be argued that a particular perdurantist conception of individual should be adopted, which distinguishes the notions of individual occurrence, and individual simpliciter. A (...)
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  • Naming and Referring: Table of Contents.Heidi Savage - manuscript
    This book is about whether reference to an individual is the essential feature of a proper name -- a widely held view -- or whether referring to an individual is simply a contingent feature. Three questions need resolving, then. First, whether all names in particular contexts are themselves referring devices. Second, whether recognizing names types and the consequent issue of their ambiguity can be resolved simply by distinguishing between name types and tokens thereof. Last, whether names are ever referential in (...)
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