Names, fictional names, and 'really'

Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1):243–269 (1999)
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[R. M. Sainsbury] Evans argued that most ordinary proper names were Russellian: to suppose that they have no bearer is to suppose that they have no meaning. The first part of this paper addresses Evans's arguments, and finds them wanting. Evans also claimed that the logical form of some negative existential sentences involves 'really' (e.g. 'Hamlet didn't really exist'). One might be tempted by the view, even if one did not accept its Russellian motivation. However, I suggest that Evans gives no adequate account of 'really', and I point to unclarities in Wiggins's similar, but distinct, attempt to use 'really' in the logical form of true negative existentials. /// [David Wiggins] Evans was not wrong (I maintain) to say that the senses of genuine proper names invoke and require objects. Names in fiction or hypothesis mimic such names. Pace Evans, Sainsbury and free logicians, proper names are scopeless. (Evans's 'Julius' is not a name.) Names create a presumption of existential generalization. In sentences such as 'Vulcan does not really exist', that presumption is bracketed. The sentence specifies by reference to story or report a concept identical with Vulcan and declares it be really uninstantiated. (The sentence, which partakes of play, is a kind of palimpsest.) It is explained why this second level view of 'exists' is to be preferred.



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Mark Sainsbury
University of Texas at Austin

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