Mind and Language 30 (3):292-319 (2015)

Authors
Brian Rabern
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Almost entirely ignored in the linguistic theorising on names and descriptions is a hybrid form of expression which, like definite descriptions, begin with 'the' but which, like proper names, are capitalised and seem to lack descriptive content. These are expressions such as the following, 'the Holy Roman Empire', 'the Mississippi River', or 'the Space Needle'. Such capitalised descriptions are ubiquitous in natural language, but to which linguistic categories do they belong? Are they simply proper names? Or are they definite descriptions with unique orthography? Or are they something else entirely? This paper assesses two obvious assimilation strategies: (i) assimilation to proper names and (ii) assimilation to definite descriptions. It is argued that both of these strategies face major difficulties. The primary goal is to lay the groundwork for a linguistic analysis of capitalised descriptions. Yet, the hope is that clearing the ground on capitalised descriptions may reveal useful insights for the on-going research into the semantics and syntax of their lower-case or 'the'-less relatives.
Keywords proper names  definite descriptions  capitalised descriptions  predicativism  names as predicates  proper nouns  direct reference  descriptivism  millianism  rigidity
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DOI 10.1111/mila.12081
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References found in this work BETA

Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.
Names Are Predicates.Delia Graff Fara - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (1):59-117.

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Citations of this work BETA

Type-Ambiguous Names.Anders J. Schoubye - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):715-767.
Names in Strange Places.Aidan Gray - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (5):429-472.
Reference and Incomplete Descriptions.Antonio Capuano - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
Russell-Names: An Introduction to Millian Descriptivism.Stefano Predelli - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 45 (5):603-622.

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