Semantics without reference

Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 31 (3):437-461 (1990)
A theory of reference may be either an analysis of reference or merely an account of the correct use of the verb "refer". If we define the validity of arguments in the standard way, in terms of assignments of individuals and sets to the nonlogical vocabulary of the language, then we will be committed to seeking an analysis of reference. Those who prefer a metalinguistic account, therefore, will desire an alternative to standard semantics. One alternative is the Quinean conception of logical validity as essentially a matter of logical form. Another alternative is Leblanc's truth-value semantics. But these prove to be either inadequate for purposes of metatheory or philosophically unsatisfactory. This paper shows how validity (i.e., semantic consequence) may be defined in a way that avoid the problems facing these other alternatives to standard semantics and also permits a metalinguistic account of reference. The validity of arguments is treated as a matter of logical form, but validity for forms is defined on analogy with the definition of semantic consequence in truth-value semantics. (A more radical kind of semantics without reference is the context logical approach represented in several of my other publications.)
Keywords logical validity  reference
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DOI 10.1305/ndjfl/1093635507
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