Denoting concepts, reference, and the logic of names, classes as many, groups, and plurals

Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (2):135 - 179 (2005)
Bertrand Russell introduced several novel ideas in his 1903 Principles of Mathematics that he later gave up and never went back to in his subsequent work. Two of these are the related notions of denoting concepts and classes as many. In this paper we reconstruct each of these notions in the framework of conceptual realism and connect them through a logic of names that encompasses both proper and common names, and among the latter, complex as well as simple common names. Names, proper or common, and simple or complex, occur as parts of quantifier phrases, which in conceptual realism stand for referential concepts, i.e., cognitive capacities that inform our speech and mental acts with a referential nature and account for the intentionality, or directedness, of those acts. In Russell’s theory, quantifier phrases express denoting concepts (which do not include proper names). In conceptual realism, names, as well as predicates, can be nominalized and allowed to occur as "singular terms", i.e., as arguments of predicates. Occurring as a singular term, a name denotes, if it denotes at all, a class as many, where, as in Russell’s theory, a class as many of one object is identical with that one object, and a class as many of more than one object is a plurality, i.e., a plural object that we call a group. Also, as in Russell’s theory, there is no empty class as many. When nominalized, proper names function as "singular terms" just the way they do in so-called free logic. Leśniewski’s ontology, which is also called a logic of names can be completely interpreted within this conceptualist framework, and the well-known oddities of Leśniewski’s system are shown not to be odd at all when his system is so interpreted. Finally, we show how the pluralities, or groups, of the logic of classes as many can be used as the semantic basis of plural reference and predication. We explain in this way Russell’s "fundamental doctrine upon which all rests", i.e., "the doctrine that the subject of a proposition may be plural, and that such plural subjects are what is meant by classes [as many] which have more than one term" (Russell 1938, p. 517).
Keywords ontology
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DOI 10.1007/s10988-005-0372-y
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Nino Cocchiarella (2009). Mass Nouns in a Logic of Classes as Many. Journal of Philosophical Logic 38 (3):343-361.

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