Proper Names and their Fictional Uses

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):707 - 726 (2011)
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Abstract

Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of proper names, challenges strong enough to warrant an account of names different from the standard treatment. The theory developed in this paper is motivated by a puzzle that depends on four assumptions: our intuitive assessment of the truth values of certain sentences, the most straightforward treatment of their syntactic structure, semantic compositionality, and metaphysical scruples strong enough to rule out fictional entities, at least. It is shown that these four assumptions, taken together, are inconsistent with referentialism, the common view that names are uniformly associated with ordinary individuals as their semantic value. Instead, the view presented here interprets names as context-sensitive expressions, associated in a context of utterance with a particular act of introduction, or dubbing, which is then used to determine their semantic value. Some dubbings are referential, which associate names with ordinary individuals as their semantic values; others are fictional, which associate names, instead, with sets of properties. Since the semantic values of names can be of different sorts, the semantic rule interpreting predication must be complex as well. In the body of the paper, I show how this new treatment of names allows us to solve our original puzzle. I defend the complexity of the semantic predication rule, and address additional worries about ontological commitment

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Author's Profile

Heidi Erika Brock
University of Maryland, College Park (PhD)

Citations of this work

Co‐Identification and Fictional Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):3-34.
The semantics of fiction.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (2):604-618.
The use-conditional indexical conception of proper names.Dolf Rami - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (1):119-150.

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References found in this work

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
From a Logical Point of View.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1953 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.

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