Reference by proxy

Synthese 200 (3):1-18 (2022)
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Formal semantic theories are generally thought to make contact with pre-theoretic semantic notions of aboutness and reference. The nature of that contact is, however, not always straightforward. This paper addresses two debates where that issue assumes a significant role. I begin with Simchen’s recent argument that Lewisian Interpretationism succumbs to referential indeterminacy. I develop a proposal about the relationship between the theoretical notion of a term’s semantic value and the pre-theoretic notion of reference, and argue that the indeterminacy Simchen identifies does not constitute a form of referential indeterminacy. In the second part, I apply these resources to the debate between singularist and pluralist approaches to the semantics of plural terms, arguing that a certain form of singularism that emerges from the dialectic ends up agreeing with the pluralist at the level of reference, if not semantic value. The paper concludes with some remarks on what a properly referential style of singularism might look like.



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Michael Rieppel
Syracuse University

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References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Reason, truth, and history.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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