On reference

Oxford University Press UK (2015)
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Abstract

Most of the times we open our mouth to communicate, we talk about things. This can happen because the linguistic expressions we use have semantic properties that connect them to extra-linguistic entities. Thanks to these properties, they may be used by us to refer to things. Or, as we may also say, they themselves refer to things, though in certain cases they do so only relative to a context of use. But how can we characterize the semantic properties in question? What exactly is reference? Philosophers have been trying to answer these questions for centuries, but only in the last century has it become really pressing. Following Frege's account of reference, and Kripke's rebuttal of it, many philosophers began to look at reference from a new perspective, which highlighted the crucial role played in its determination by mundane aspects that are not under the direct control of the speaker. This semantic revolution, however, left us with a number of open problems. The eighteen original essays collected in this volume deal with many of these problems, thus contributing to our understanding of the nature of reference, its role in cognition, and the place it should be given in semantic theory

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Andrea Bianchi
University of Parma

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