Empty Names and Pragmatic Millianism

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):49-58 (2014)
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Abstract

Millianism is the view that the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Empty names, names with no semantic referents, raise various problems for Millianism. To solve these problems, many have appealed to pragmatics, thus ‘Pragmatic Millianism’. Pragmatic Millianism employs the relation of association between names and descriptions as well as some pragmatic processes to substitute empty names with descriptions associated with. The resultant content should account for the intuitions raised by utterances of sentences containing empty names. Here, I will try to argue against this picture: Names are associated with descriptions of different kinds in a number of ways. The complex nature of this relation is overlooked by Pragmatic Millianism. Neither the relation of association nor the pragmatic processes responsible for substituting a description or a cluster of descriptions for an empty name guarantee the fullness of what is pragmatically imparted. The moral is this: Regarding empty names, Pragmatic Millianism should be avoided

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Seyed N. Mousavian
Loyola University, Chicago

Citations of this work

Pragmatics of No Reference.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (1):95-116.

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References found in this work

Nonexistent Objects.Terence Parsons - 1980 - Yale University Press.
Empty Names.David Braun - 1993 - Noûs 27 (4):449-469.
Empty Names and `Gappy' Propositions.Anthony Everett - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 116 (1):1-36.
The Semantics of Fictional Names.Fred Adams, Gary Fuller & Robert Stecker - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (2):128–148.
Vacuous Singular Terms.Fred Adams & Robert Stecker - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (4):387-401.

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