Direct reference and the Goldbach puzzle

Theoria 90 (1):8-16 (2024)
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Abstract

So-called Neo-Russellians, such as Salmon, Braun, Crimmins, and Perry, hold that the semantic content of ‘ n is F ’ in a context c is the singular proposition ⟨ o, P ⟩, where o is the referent of the name n in c, and P is the property expressed by the predicate F in c. This is also known as the Neo-Russellian theory. Using truth ascriptions with names designating propositions, such as ‘Goldbach's conjecture’, in this paper, I will argue that, together with highly plausible principles regarding a priori knowledge, the Neo-Russellian theory leads to unacceptable consequences. I will call this ‘the Goldbach puzzle’. Since the solution to the Goldbach puzzle cannot be to reject the discussed principles regarding a priori knowledge, the puzzle will undermine the Neo-Russellian theory.

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