Why the Predicativist Calling Account Fails: Names Can Never Hurt You


Recently, and rather startlingly, given the history of the debate about a name's semantic content, some claim that names are in fact predicates -- predicativism. Some of predicativists claim that a name's semantic content involves the concept of being called -- calling accounts that have been traditionally meta-linguistic. However, these accounts fail to be informative. Inspired by Burge's claim that proper names are literally true of the individuals that have them, Fara develops a non-meta-linguistic concept of being called analysed in terms of property attributions. I offer seven separate reasons for rejecting the account, one of which is that Fara's development of the view, at least, has implausible consequences for a theory of name acquisition. I sketch an alternative account of name acquisition that is meta-linguistic in nature, but because it is not offered as a theory of name's content, the standard worries fail to apply. In fact, I argue that an account of name acquisition must be meta-linguistic, and therefore a more nuanced conception of meta-linguistic speech acts is required. The account invokes Austin's performative-constative distinction. It analyses name acquisition as due to performative meta-linguistic speech acts.



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