Singular Terms and Reference: Evans and "Julius"

Ron Chrisley
University of Sussex
"Let us call whoever invented the zip "Julius"." With this stipulation, Gareth Evans introduced "Julius" into the language as one of a category of terms that seem to lie somewhere between definite descriptions (such as "whoever invented the zip") and proper names (such as "John", or "Julius" as usually used) (Evans 1982: 31). He dubbed these terms "descriptive names"1, and used them as a foil against which to test several theories of reference: Frege's, Russell's, and his own. I want to look at some tensions in the first two chapters of The Varieties of Reference, tensions in Evans' account of singular terms that become apparent his account of descriptive names in particular. Specifically, I will concentrate on his claim that although descriptive names are referring expressions, they are not Russellian terms (i. e., terms which cannot contribute to the expression of a thought when they lack a referent). A recurring theme in this paper, and perhaps its sole point of interest for those not directly concerned with how to account for singular terms, is an attempt to place the blame for Evans' difficulties with an aspect of his thinking and method which I have referred to as "anti-realism". This might be confusing, as the aspect I am criticising is often of a vague and general sort, more akin to the ancient idea that "man is the measure of all things" than to any of the technical modern positions for which the term "anti-realism" is now normally used. But to refer to this aspect as "Protagorean" would suggest that I am accusing Evans of having been some kind of relativist, which I have no wish to do. Furthermore, there are times when the aspect does take a form which has more similarities to than differences from conventional notions of anti-realism.
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