Singular Terms, Predicates and the Spurious 'Is' of Identity

Dialectica 67 (3):325-343 (2013)
Contemporary orthodoxy affirms that singular terms cannot be predicates and that, therefore, ‘is’ is ambiguous as between predication and identity. Recent attempts to treat names as predicates do not challenge this orthodoxy. The orthodoxy was built into the structure of modern formal logic by Frege. It is defended by arguments which I show to be unsound. I provide a semantical account of atomic sentences which draws upon Mill's account of predication, connotation and denotation. I show that singular terms may be predicates, that it is highly implausible that there is an ‘is’ of identity in natural languages, and that modern formal logic is deficient in that it cannot recognize sentences, including singular existentials, in which singular terms are predicates, or inferences which depend upon the logical role rather than the logical category of expressions
Keywords atomic sentence  connotation  denotation  ‘is’ of identity  logical category  logical role  logical subject  predicate  singular existential  singular term
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Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.1111/1746-8361.12033
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Word and Object.W. V. Quine - 1960 - MIT Press.

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