Topoi 39 (2):389-399 (2020)

Kepa Korta
University of Basque Country
Singular terms without referents are called empty or vacuous terms. But not all of them are equally empty. In particular, not all proper names that fail to name an existing object fail in the same way: although they are all empty, they are not all equally vacuous. “Vulcan,” “Jacob Horn,” “Odysseus,” and “Sherlock Holmes,” for instance, are all empty. They have no referents. But they are not entirely vacuous or useless. Sometimes they are used in statements that are true or false. We are basically referentialists about proper names. The ordinary semantic function of a proper name is to refer to an object, and to do it directly, that is, without semantically providing any identifying condition that the object should meet to be the referent. To put it differently, we agree that statements containing proper names express singular propositions, i.e., that their truth-conditions involve the referent of the proper name, if it exists, and not any identifying condition of it. Now, since empty names lack a referent, and therefore would not express such a singular proposition, how do we explain that many, if not all, statements containing them have a truth-value? Answering this question for the case of fictional names, in particular, is the aim of this paper.
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-018-9544-6
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References found in this work BETA

The Causal Theory of Names.Gareth Evans - 1973 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 47 (1):187–208.
Reference and Reflexivity.John Perry - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):147-162.
The Real Foundation of Fictional Worlds.Stacie Friend - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):29-42.

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