A deflationary theory of reference

Synthese 169 (1):51 - 73 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The article first rehearses three deflationary theories of reference, (1) disquotationalism, (2) propositionalism (Horwich), and (3) the anaphoric theory (Brandom), and raises a number of objections against them. It turns out that each corresponds to a closely related theory of truth, and that these are subject to analogous criticisms to a surprisingly high extent. I then present a theory of my own, according to which the schema “That S(t) is about t” and the biconditional “S refers to x iff S says something about x” are exhaustive of the notions of aboutness and reference. An account of the usefulness of “about” is then given, which, I argue, is superior to that of Horwich. I close with a few considerations about how the advertised theory relates to well-known issues of reference, the conclusions of which is (1) that the issues concern reference and aboutness only insofar as the words “about” and “refer” serve to generalise over the claims that are really at issue, (2) that the theory of reference will not settle the issues, and (3) that it follows from (2) that the issues do not concern the nature of aboutness or reference.

Similar books and articles

Close enough to reference.David B. Martens - 1993 - Synthese 95 (3):357 - 377.
Direct reference in thought and speech.Kirk A. Ludwig - 1993 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 26 (1):49-76.
Against Arguments from Reference.Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, Shaun Nichols & Stephen Stich - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):332 - 356.
Arguments from reference and the worry about dependence.Ron Mallon - 2007 - In Peter A. French & Howard K. Wettstein (eds.), Philosophy and the Empirical. Blackwell. pp. 160-183.
The Roots of Reference.W. V. Quine - 1974 - Lasalle, Ill., Open Court.
The subsumption of reference.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (1):157-178.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
738 (#11,625)

6 months
57 (#22,314)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Arvid Båve
University of Lisbon

Citations of this work

What is deflationism about truth?Matti Eklund - 2021 - Synthese 198 (2):631-645.
Deflationism about Truth.Bradley Armour-Garb, Daniel Stoljar & James Woodbridge - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Concept Designation.Arvid Båve - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (4):331-344.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.John Rogers Searle - 1969 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Truth.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Clarendon Press.
The Foundations of Arithmetic.Gottlob Frege - 1884/1950 - Evanston: Ill., Northwestern University Press.

View all 38 references / Add more references