Southwest Philosophy Review 33 (1):133-142 (2017)

Julie Wulfemeyer
Minnesota State University, Mankato
I take it as given that we manage to linguistically refer to objects we can neither perceive nor uniquely describe. Kripke accounts for this fact by appeal to causal-historical chains of communication. But Evans famously presented what has seemed to many a devastating counterexample to Kripke’s view: the phenomenon of reference-shifting. Here, I’ll agree with critics that Kripke’s view is insufficient to handle cases of reference shift, but I’ll argue for an alternative version of the causal-historical account that is immune to Evans’ counterexample. The key move will be at the foundations; it will require a change in what it is we’re giving a causal-historical account of. Critically, I’ll argue that we should reject two claims associated with the causal-historical picture. First, we should reject the claim that names are used to think of their referents. Second, we should reject the claim that later speakers defer to earlier ones.
Keywords reference shift  causal theory of reference  philosophy of language  Kripke  Donnellan
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ISBN(s) 0897-2346
DOI 10.5840/swphilreview201733114
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