Names Are Not Predicates

Abstract

There are many examples offered as evidence that proper names are predicates. Not all of these cases speak to a name’s semantic content, but many of them do. Some of these include attributive, quantifier, and ambiguity cases. We will explore those cases here, and we will see that none of them conclusively show that names are predicates. In fact, all of these constructions can be given alternative analyses that eliminate the predicative characteristics of names they feature. These analyses do not involve having names functioning as predicates in any way at all. In attributive cases, the names within them are to be understood as occurring in a comparative construction, not an attributive construction. In the last two sorts of cases, the names that occur are analyzed as part of a more complex referring device for a specific domain, rather than functioning as predicates. Both paraphrases can be given plausible semantic treatments that have significant advantages over their competitors. For this reason, there is less motivation to focus on predicative views of proper names.

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