'Latinos', 'hispanics', and 'iberoamericans': Naming or describing?

Philosophical Forum 32 (2):175–188 (2001)

Abstract

In some ways that have been largely ignored, ethnic-group names might be similar to names of other kinds. If they are, for instance, analogous to proper names, then a correct semantic account of the latter could throw some light on how the meaning of ethnic-group names should be construed. Of course, proper names, together with definite descriptions, belong to the class of singular terms, and an influential view on the semantics of such terms was developed, at the turn of the nineteenth century, from discussion of a puzzle about some differences in the cognitive value of certain statements of identity. Clearly, that a = a (e.g., that Mark Twain was Mark Twain) is trivial, and its truth could be known a priori, just by thinking. On the other hand, that a = b (e.g., that Mark Twain was Samuel Clemens) is of course informative and knowable only by empirical investigation. To solve this puzzle, Frege famously proposed that those variations in the cognitive value of statements of identity “can arise only if the difference between the signs corresponds to a difference in the mode of presentation of that which is designated.” On his view, although in the above statements of identity, the singular terms, ‘a,’ and, ‘b,’ may designate the same thing, they do so with different senses, or under different modes of presentation of that object. When the puzzling statements involving ‘a’ and ‘b’ are true, they may then be said to have exactly the same reference. But since those singular terms pick out the object of reference differently (i.e., under different senses or modes of presentation), therefore the cognitive value of these statements also varies significantly. On this account, then, the reference of a non-vacuous proper name is secured by the name’s sense, or mode of presentation, which constitutes its semantic content. And given that Fregeans (here under the influence of Russell) cash out that sense as consisting in whatever concept (or cluster of concepts) could be uniquely associated with that name, they might hold, for example, that the property of being the author of Huckleberry Finn, and that of being an American who lived his early life in Hannibal, Missouri, and later became a famous writer, amount to the senses of ‘Mark Twain,’ and ‘Samuel Clemens,’ respectively..

Download options

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
421 (#24,184)

6 months
34 (#26,200)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
Identity and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1971 - In Milton Karl Munitz (ed.), Identity and Individuation. New York: New York University Press. pp. 135-164.
On Sense and Reference.Gottlob Frege - 1960 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. pp. 36--56.

Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Reflexivity, Indexicality and Names.John Perry - 1997 - In W. Künne, A. Newen & M. Anduschus (eds.), Direct Reference, Indexicality and Propositional Attitudes. CSLI Publications. pp. 3--19.
Partial Propositions and Cognitive Content.Heimir Geirsson - 1996 - Journal of Philosophical Research 21:117-128.
Names, Sense and Kripke’s Puzzle.Tim Crane - 1992 - From the Logical Point of View 2:11-26.
Reference and Ethnic-Group Terms.Susana Nuccetelli - 2004 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 47 (6):528 – 544.
On Sense and Reference.Gottlob Frege - 1960 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. pp. 36--56.
Can Frege Pose Frege's Puzzle?Stavroula Glezakos - 2009 - In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), The Philosophy of David Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 202.
Identity Syntax.Roger Wertheimer - 1999 - In T. Rockmore (ed.), The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. Philosophy Document Center. pp. 171-186.