Through a Glass Darkly - Russell on Names

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (2):191-226 (2007)
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Russell’s views about the proper logical and epistemological treatment of names conspired to lead him to set aside considerations that support the claim that names are not definite descriptions. Though he appreciated those considerations, he famously argued that ordinary names are truncated definite descriptions. Nevertheless, his appreciation of the distinctive semantic behavior of ordinary names combined with his view that acquaintance comes in degrees led him to attempt to secure a semantically privileged status for ordinary names: only special kinds of descriptions can go proxy for ordinary names “used as names”. The paper attempts to tell this story, filling in gaps where Russell doesn’t provide sufficient elaboration, and to draw some general conclusions about acquaintance-based approaches to names and singular thoughts.



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Michael Liston
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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References found in this work

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Home University Library.
The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Mind 21 (84):556-564.
Quantifying in.David Kaplan - 1968 - Synthese 19 (1-2):178-214.

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