A new kind of defense of the Millian theory of names is given, which explains intuitive counter-examples as depending on pragmatic effects of the relevant sentences, by direct application of Grice’s and Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory and uncontroversial assumptions. I begin by arguing that synonyms are always intersubstitutable, despite Mates’ considerations, and then apply the method to names. Then, a fairly large sample of cases concerning names are dealt with in related ways. It is argued that the method, as (...) applied to the various cases, satisfies the criterion of success: that for every sentence in context, it is a counter-example to Millianism to the extent that it has pragmatic effects (matching speakers’ intuitions). (shrink)
Millianism is the view that all there is to the meaning of a name is its bearer. In a recent paper Bryan Frances seeks to undercut the traditional argument against Millianism as well as offer a new argument in favor of Millianism. I argue that both endeavors fail.
Speakers often judge the sentence “Lois Lane believes that Superman flies” to be true and the sentence “Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent flies” to be false. If Millianism is true, however, these sentences express the very same proposition and must therefore have same truth value. “Pragmatic” Millians like Salmon and Soames have tried to explain speakers’ “anti-substitution intuitions” by claiming that the two sentences are routinely used to pragmatically convey different propositions which do have different truth values. “Non-Pragmatic” (...) Millians like Braun, on the other hand, have argued that the Millian should not appeal to pragmatics and opt instead for a purely psychological explanation. I will present two objections against Non-Pragmatic Millianism. The first one is that the view cannot account for the intuitions of speakers who accept the identity sentence “Superman is Clark Kent”: applying a psychological account in this case, I will argue, would yield wrong predictions about speakers who resist substitution with simple sentences. I will then consider a possible response from the non-pragmatic Millian and show that the response would in fact require an appeal to pragmatics. My conclusion will be that Braun’s psychological explanation of anti-substitution intuitions is untenable, and that the Millian is therefore forced to adopt a pragmatic account. My second objection is that Non-Pragmatic Millianism cannot account for the role that certain commonsense intentional generalizations play in the explanation of behavior. I will consider a reply offered by Braun and argue that it still leaves out a large class of important generalizations. My conclusion will be that Braun’s non-pragmatic strategy fails, and that the Millian will again be forced to adopt a pragmatic account of intentional generalizations if he wants to respond to the objection. In light of my two objections, my general conclusion will be that non-pragmatic versions of Millianism should be rejected. This has an important consequence: if Millianism is true, then some pragmatic Millian account must be correct. It follows that, if standard objections against pragmatic accounts succeed, then Millianism must be rejected altogether. (shrink)
This article focuses on Jonathan Berg’s Theory of Direct Belief as presented in his 2012 book Direct Belief. An Essay on the Semantics, Pragmatics, and Metaphysics of Belief. After regimenting Berg’s key theses and discussing the sources of their general unpopularity, I proceed to reconstruct Berg’s book-length argument for his conclusions. I here make explicit that Berg relies on a range of strong meta-semantic principles and assumptions. I conclude that even if Berg has brought considerable methodological rigor to the on-going (...) debate over the semantics of natural language attitude ascriptions, and has proposed an elegant and consistent theory, he has not offered compelling reasons to accept his preferred methodological constraints in light of the difficulties, which those constraints impose upon attitude ascription semantics. (shrink)
Millianism is the view that the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Empty names, names with no semantic referents, raise various problems for Millianism. To solve these problems, many have appealed to pragmatics, thus ‘Pragmatic Millianism’. Pragmatic Millianism employs the relation of association between names and descriptions as well as some pragmatic processes to substitute empty names with descriptions associated with. The resultant content should account for the intuitions raised by utterances of (...) sentences containing empty names. Here, I will try to argue against this picture: Names are associated with descriptions of different kinds in a number of ways. The complex nature of this relation is overlooked by Pragmatic Millianism. Neither the relation of association nor the pragmatic processes responsible for substituting a description or a cluster of descriptions for an empty name guarantee the fullness of what is pragmatically imparted. The moral is this: Regarding empty names, Pragmatic Millianism should be avoided. (shrink)
With the addition of Kit Fine’s Semantic Relationism to the mix, there are now two main versions of Millianism on offer.1 Both maintain (i) that the semantic contents of names, indexicals, and variables (appropriately relativized) are their referents.
Millians about proper names typically claim that it is knowable apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. We argue that they should claim instead that it is knowable only aposteriori that Hesperus is Hesperus, since the Kripke-Putnam epistemic arguments against descriptivism are special cases of Quinean arguments that nothing is knowable apriori, and Millians have no resources to resist the more general Quinean arguments.
According to a Millian theory of names, co-referring names are intersubstitutable salva veritate in all contexts, including the that-clauses of belief reports. This leads the Millian to famously argue, among other things, that if Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly then she also believes that Clark Kent can fly. Although the Millian provides an ingenious account that explains our strong anti-substitution intuitions in such cases, this paper argues that the Millian account leads to a new problem of enlightenment in (...) identity reports. Specifically, a believer A may come to discover that two names refer to the same individual S, but whether A is enlightened about the identity of S will depend on the number of guises through which A holds contradictory beliefs about S. (shrink)
According to Millianism about proper names, what a proper name semantically contributes to the sentence in which it figures is simply its referent; therefore, co-referring proper names are intercheangable salva veritate and salva significatione. In their 2019 paper published in Topoi, Felappi and Santambrogio formulate a thought-provoking argument against Millianism. Their argument aims at establishing that our normal practice of translation shows that Millianism cannot be correct. I argue that Millians can successfully reply. I will address in (...) turn two versions of Felappi and Santambrogio’s argument, focusing especially on the second one, which apparently raises a more challenging problem for Millianism. Finally, I will consider two objections against my own strategy, and I will reply to them. (shrink)
In Beyond Rigidity, Soames attempts to defend Millianism by articulating a novel account of the semantics and pragmatics of sentences containing names. Soames uses this account both to respond to the objection that Millianism unintuitively allows the unrestricted substitution of coreferential names in propositional attitude contexts, and to generate a positive argument for Millianism. I argue that the positive argument fails, and that Soames’s account of the semantics and pragmatics of sentences containing names is inconsistent with (...) class='Hi'>Millianism. (shrink)
Any developed Millianism is forced to make an arbitrary choice. Some Millian theories are profligate: it suffices for believing that Clark flies that you assent to some way of taking that proposition. But Lois no more believes that Clark flies than she fails to believe that Superman flies. An abstemious Millianism requires for believing that Superman flies that you not refrain from assenting to any way of taking that proposition. Profligate Millianism gives subjects beliefs they do not (...) seem to have. Abstemious Millianism takes from subjects beliefs they seem to have. The fact that Millianism confronts such a choice is itself philosophically significant. (shrink)
According to the view I call `innocent Millianism', that-clauses differing only for occurrences of co-referential names provide the same contribution to the intensional profile of a belief report. It is widely believed by friends and foes of innocent Millianism alike that this approach entails either the denial of what I label a `naïve' account ofbelief reports, or a dismissive attitude towards our semantic intuitions. In this essay, I counter that the conjunction of innocent Millianism and the naïve (...) view of belief reports is compatible with our intuitions of truth-conditions. In order to defend this conclusion, I defend an independently motivated approach, in which utterances endowed of the same intension may nevertheless differ in truth-conditions. (shrink)
This paper discusses two notational variance views with respect to indexical singular reference and content: the view that certain forms of Millianism are at bottom notational variants of a Fregean theory of reference, the Fregean Notational Variance Claim; and the view that certain forms of Fregeanism are at bottom notational variants of a direct reference theory, the Millian Notational Variance Claim. While the former claim rests on the supposition that a direct reference theory could be easily turned into a (...) particular version of a neo-Fregean one by showing that it is bound to acknowledge certain senselike entities, the latter claim is based upon the supposition that a neo-Fregean theory could be easily turned into a particular version of a Millian one by showing that De Re senses are theoretically superfluous and hence eliminable. The question how many accounts of singular reference and content are we confronted with here — Two different (and mutually antagonistic) theories? Or just two versions of what is in essence the same theory? — is surely of importance to anyone interested in the topic. And this question should be answered by means of a careful assessment of the soundness of each of the above claims. Before trying to adjudicate between the two accounts, one would naturally want to know whether or not there are indeed two substantially disparate accounts. Grosso modo, if the Fregean Claim were sound then we would have a single general conception of singular reference to deal with, viz. Fregeanism; likewise, if the Millian Claim were sound we would be facing a single general conception of singular reference, viz. Millianism. My view is that both the Fregean Notational Variance Claim and its Millian counterpart are wrong, though naturally on different grounds. I have argued elsewhere that the Fregean Notational Variance Claim - considered in its application to the semantics of propositional-attitude reports involving proper names — is unsound. I intend tosupplement in this paper such a result by trying to show that the Millian Claim - taken in its application to the semantics of indexical expressions — should also be rated as incorrect. I focus on a certain set of arguments for the Millian Claim, arguments which I take as adequately representing the general outlook of the Millian theorist with respect to neo-Fregeanism about indexicals and which involve issues about the cognitive significance of sentences containing indexical terms. (shrink)
Radical Millianism agrees with less radical varieties in claiming that ordinary proper names lack “descriptive senses” and that the semantic content of such a name is just its referent but differs from less radical varieties of Millianism in claiming that any pair of sentences differing only in the exchange of coreferential names cannot differ in truth-value. This is what makes Radical Millianism radical. The view is surprisingly popular these days, and it is popular despite the fact that, (...) until very recently, there was not a single argument for it. Theodore Sider and David Braun (2006) have tried to provide the missing argument, but, I argue, their attempt fails. I conclude that we (still) have no reason to be Radical Millians. (shrink)
In order to by-pass immaterial historical bickering I shall stipulatively mean by ‘Radical Millianism’ just this much more than what Katz in his recent article in The Philosophical Review , ‘Names without Bearers’ , means by the unqualified term, ‘Millianism’; namely, whereas Katz means by ‘Millianism’ that theory of proper names which holds that proper names ‘have no linguistic meaning,’.
According to Russellianism (or Millianism), the two sentences ‘Ralph believes George Eliot is a novelist’ and ‘Ralph believes Mary Ann Evans is a novelist’ cannot diverge in truth-value, since they express the same proposition. The problem for the Russellian (or Millian) is that a puzzle of Kaplan’s seems to show that they can diverge in truth-value and that therefore, since the Russellian holds that they express the same proposition, the Russellian view is contradictory. I argue that the standard Russellian (...) appeal to “ways of thinking” or “propositional guises” is not necessary to solve the puzzle. Rather than this retrograde concession to Fregeanism, appeal should be made to second-order belief. The puzzle is solved, and the contradiction avoided, by maintaining that both sentences are indeed true in addition to the sentence ‘Ralph (mistakenly) believes that he does not believe Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot is a novelist’. (shrink)
I argue that Millianism has the very odd consequence that there are simple direct questions that Millians can grasp, but they cannot answer them in the positive or the negative, or in some other way, nor could they say that they do not know the answer.
In this article I offer a three-pronged defense of Millian theories, all of which share the rough idea that all there is to a proper name is its referent, so it has no additional sense. I first give what I believe to be the first correct analysis of Kripke’s puzzle and its anti-Fregean lessons. The main lesson is that the Fregean’s arguments against Millianism and for the existence of semantically relevant senses (that is, individuative elements of propositions or belief (...) contents that are sensitive to our varying personal conceptions of the referents of those elements) are viciously circular. Thus, the Fregean must give new arguments for her central claims. Second, I offer an original, positive argument for the Millian idea that the thoughts that Cicero was bald and that Tully was bald are identical. Incredibly, the argument appeals to nothing but highly intuitive, pre-theoretical principles regarding folk psychological usage—traditionally the source of Fregean intuitions. Third, I examine one of the most important recent papers on Kripke’s puzzle, that by David Sosa (1996). Sosa claims to have found a way to turn the tables on Kripke’s puzzle by using it to argue against Millian theories. I argue that Sosa’s argument on behalf of the Fregean is question-begging. I conclude that Millian theories can be seriously defended without any use of theoretical constructs such as guises or Russellian propositions, and Fregeans need to start over arguing for their theory’s central claims. (shrink)
I reply to the argument of Caplan (Philos Stud 133:181–198, 2007 ) against the conjunction of Millianism with the view that utterances of sentences involving names often pragmatically convey descriptively enriched propositions.
Standard compositionality is the doctrine that the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of the semantic contents of the contentful component expressions. In 1954 Hilary Putnam proposed that standard compositionality be replaced by a stricter version according to which even sentences that are synonymously isomorphic (in the sense of Alonzo Church) are not strictly synonymous unless they have the same logical form. On Putnam’s proposal, the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of: (i) the (...) contentful component expressions; and (ii) the expression’s logical form. Kit Fine recently expanded and modified Putnam’s idea into a sweeping theory in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. The present paper is a detailed critique of Fine’s “semantic relationism.” Fine’s notion of coordination is explained in terms of the familiar pragmatic phenomenon of recognition. A serious error in Fine’s formal disproof of standard Millianism is exposed. It is demonstrated furthermore that Church’s original criticism of Putnam’s proposal can be extended to Fine’s semantic relationism. Finally, it is also demonstrated that the positive position Fine proffers to supplant standard Millianism is in fact exactly equivalent to standard Millianism, so that Fine’s overall position not only does not displace standard Millianism but is in fact inconsistent. (shrink)
Millianism is the familiar view that some expressions, such as proper names, contribute only their referent to the semantic content of sentences in which they occur. Inan (Philosophical Studies 2010) has recently argued that the Millian is committed to the following odd conclusion: There may be questions that he is able to grasp but that he cannot answer, either affirmatively, negatively, or with a simple I don’t know . The Millian is indeed committed to this conclusion. But we intend (...) to show that Inan’s argument generalizes, so that everyone who accepts certain largely uncontroversial principles is committed to the odd conclusion that there may be questions that are graspable but not answerable. (shrink)
My hunch has always been that in the end, Fregeanism will defeat Millianism. So I suspect that my (1998) arguments on behalf of Millianism are flawed. Peter Graham (1999) is confident he has found the flaws, but he has not. I hope that some clarification will encourage others to reveal the errors.
Millianism is reasonable; that is, it is reasonable to think that all there is to the semantic value of a proper name is its referent. But Millianism appears to be undermined by the falsehood of Substitutivity, the principle that interchanging coreferential proper names in an intentional context cannot change the truth value of the resulting belief report. Mary might be perfectly rational in assenting to ‘Twain was a great writer’ as well as ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. (...) Her confusion does not seem to preclude her from assenting to those sentences in a normal, understanding manner. That is, Assent-for-Mary is true: Mary can knowingly assent to ‘Twain was a great writer’ and ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. By Disquotation—the rough principle that if in ordinary circumstances one assents to “P”, then one believes that P—Mary believes that Twain was a great writer and she believes that it’s not the case that Clemens was a great writer. If Substitutivity were true, then since ‘Mary believes that Twain was a great writer’ is true, ‘Mary believes that Clemens was a great writer’ would have to be true too. But then Mary would amount to a refutation of the plausible principle Consistency that, roughly put, no rational adult can have occurrently held and reflectively considered and compared contradictory beliefs. Since Disquotation, Assent-for-Mary, and Consistency are true, Substitutivity has to go. (shrink)
This essay is devoted to an analysis of the semantic significance of a fashionable view of proper names, the Predicate Theory of names, typically developed in the direction of the Metalinguistic Theory of names. According to MT, ‘syntactic evidence supports the conclusion that a name such as ‘Kennedy’ is analyzable in terms of the predicate ‘individual named ‘Kennedy’’. This analysis is in turn alleged to support a descriptivist treatment of proper names in designative position, presumably in contrast with theories of (...) names as ‘directly referring rigid designators’. The main aim of this essay is that of questioning the significance of PT and MT as theories of designation: even granting for the argument’s sake that names are analyzable as predicates, their designative occurrences may be interpreted in consonance with the dictates of Direct Reference—indeed, in consonance with the radically anti-descriptivist version of Direct Reference I call Millianism. (shrink)
Millianism is the doctrine according to which the semantic content of a proper name is exhausted by its referent. This article raises and attempts to solve a dilemma for Millians: either a proper name of a truth bearer is in turn a truth bearer ; or having a truth bearer as semantic content is not sufficient for a linguistic expression to be a truth bearer. As it will be shown in the manuscript, the dilemma does not arise with “that”-clauses (...) in the place of proper names, if “that”-clauses are taken to be non-Millian designators whose semantic content is not a truth bearer. An account of “that”-clauses having such features and originating with Salmon, Frege's Puzzle, will be defended. (shrink)
The Substitution Anomaly is the failure of intuitively coreferential expressions of the corresponding forms “that S” and “the proposition that S” to be intersubstitutable salva veritate under certain ‘selective’ attitudinal verbs that grammatically accept both sorts of terms as complements. The Substitution Anomaly poses a direct threat to the basic assumptions of Millianism, which predict the interchangeability of “that S” and “the proposition that S”. Jeffrey King has argued persuasively that the most plausible Millian solution is to treat the (...) selective attitudinal verbs as lexically ambiguous , having distinct meanings associated with the different sorts of complement terms. In opposition this approach, I argue that there are independent reasons for maintaining the univocality of these verbs and that this can be done while accommodating the Substitution Anomaly and without sacrificing the transparency of the relevant attitude ascriptions. In particular, I show how, by employing an extended version of Edward Zalta’s system of intensional logic for abstract objects, one can construct for a regimented fragment ℜ of English containing the relevant vocabulary a semantical theory ℑ which (a) treats ℜ’s selective attitudinal verbs as univocal, (b) regards genuine terms as occurring transparently under such verbs in sentences of ℜ, and yet (c) predicts the occurrence of the Substitution Anomaly in ℜ. (shrink)
MILLIANISM and DESCRIPTIVISM are without question the two most prominent views with respect to the semantics of proper names. However, debates between MILLIANS and DESCRIPTIVISTS have tended to focus on a fairly narrow set of linguistic data and an equally narrow set of problems, mainly how to solve with Frege's puzzle and how to guarantee rigidity. In this article, the author focuses on a set of data that has been given less attention in these debates—namely, so-called predicative uses, bound (...) uses, and shifted uses of names. The author first shows that these data points seem to favor a DESCRIPTIVIST view over a MILLIAN view, but the author then introduces an alternative view of names that not only provides a simple and elegant way of dealing with the data, but also retains rigidity without becoming subject to the problems raised by Frege's puzzle. This is the view that names are variables, also called VARIABILISM. (shrink)
Taken together with other plausible theses, Millianism has the counterintuitive consequence that the following belief reports have the same semantic content. (1a) Lois Lane believes that Superman flies. (1b) Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent flies. It has been popular, at least since the publication of Salmon's Frege's Puzzle (1986), to explain the presence of anti-Millian intuitions in terms of pragmatic phenomena. According to Salmon's account, (1a) and (1b) can be used to communicate distinct propositions, and this leads to (...) the mistaken conclusion that (1a) and (1b) differ in semantic content. Since the publication of Soames's Beyond Rigidity (2002) and Thau's Consciousness and Cognition (2002), it has been popular to say that (1a) and (1b) can be used to communicate descriptive propositions. These propositions may be distinct, and this contributes to the mistaken conclusion that (1a) and (1b) differ in semantic content. In this paper, I elaborate and defend a modified version of Salmon's account. This new account incorporates elements from Soames and Thau, so it can be regarded as a synthesis of previous accounts. It is argued that the new account is superior in various respects, not the least of which is its ability to handle various puzzles and problematic cases. Because of the elements that are incorporated from Soames and Thau, the new account can be regarded as an example of Millian Descriptivism. After explaining and motivating Salmon's account, I consider several problems. I then propose the modified account as an attractive way of avoiding these problems. It is noted that there are several similarities between the modified account and the accounts offered by Soames and Thau, but it is argued that the new account is superior in maintaining certain elements of Salmon's original account. Several consequences of the new account are discussed. Some of them concern the nature of the a priori and others concern the individuation of beliefs. I conclude by defending the new account against recent attacks on Millian Descriptivism. I argue that the new account is not suspectible to the objections that have been standardly raised against Fregean Descriptivism. (shrink)
Tiddy Smith, Philosophia, 42, 173–179 has recently argued that there is an enlightenment problem for Millianism. In this paper I show that Smith’s argument rests on a misunderstanding, and that the enlightenment problem can be solved according to standard versions of Millianism. In fact, the problem can be solved according to Nathan Salmon’s version of Millianism, which is one of Smith’s main targets.
These days the two most popular approaches to belief ascription are Millianism and Contextualism. The former approach is inconsistent with the existence of ordinary Frege cases, such as Lois believing that Superman flies while failing to believe that Clark Kent flies. The Millian holds that the only truth-conditionally relevant aspect of a proper name is its referent or extension. Contextualism, as I will define it for the purposes of this essay, includes all theories according to which ascriptions of the (...) form ‘S believes that a is F’ and ‘S believes that b is F’, where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are coreferential proper names, may, depending on the context, differ in truth-value even though in those very contexts each ascription relates the same believer to the very same proposition. What the two theories have in common is the claim that names are Millian. What separates the two theories is what they say about belief contexts. In this essay I prove that Millianism is true, Contextualism is true, or our intuitions regarding belief ascriptions are hopelessly inaccurate. As a consequence, my argument is a proof that either names and many general terms are Millian or our intuitions regarding belief ascriptions are hopelessly inaccurate. (shrink)
I argue that Frege's puzzle can extend beyond semantic and to, for example, pictures and scent. Accordingly, attempted solutions to the puzzle should not focus solely on semantics. Solutions that do so can at best provide a partial solution to the puzzle. They will not provide a solution that explains the broader phenomenon; the one that includes my childhood case. Below I will provide a solution that accounts for the typical Frege case as well as my childhood case. The solution (...) will, accordingly, not be a semantic solution. Instead it will focus on information we have on objects and how we organize and access the information. The solution I will provide is psychological and not semantic in nature. At the same time I will show that the solution I provide aligns itself well with Millianism. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, this view implies (...) that all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
After introducing Millianism and touching on two problems raised by genuinely empty names for Millianism (section I), I provide a brief exposition of the Gappy Proposition View (GPV) and of how different versions of this view can reply to the problems in question (section II). In the following sections I develop my reasons against the GPV. First, I will try to argue that apparently promising arguments for the claim that gappy propositions are propositions are not successful (section III). (...) Then, I will develop two arguments against GPs via demonstrating two odd consequences of the GPV: (a) that there can be an atomic proposition which contains other propositions that are not the semantic contents of any part of the .. (shrink)
According to Millianism, the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Many names, however, lack semantic referent; hence, so-called ‘empty’ names. Empty names raise various problems for Millianism. T.C. Ryckman, Fred Adams, Garry Fuller, Robert Stecker, Kenneth Taylor, and Nicole Wyatt, among others, have defended Millianism against these problems by appeal to pragmatics . I introduce Millianism and the problems raised by empty names for the view, then examine Pragmatic Millianism , its (...) strength, its varieties, and why the previous arguments against PM do not succeed. I then provide my argument against PM: the view oversimplifies the complex phenomenon of association between names and descriptions. I discuss an objection to my argument and rebut that. Finally, I try to draw an outline of a positive view. (shrink)
The orthodox view of proper names, Millianism, provides a very simple and elegant explanation of the semantic contribution of referential uses of names–names that occur as bare singulars and as the argument of a predicate. However, one problem for Millianism is that it cannot explain the semantic contribution of predicative uses of names. In recent years, an alternative view, so-called the-predicativism, has become increasingly popular. According to the-predicativists, names are uniformly count nouns. This straightforwardly explains why names can (...) be used predicatively, but is prima facie less congenial to an analysis of referential uses. To address this issue, the-predicativists argue that referential names are in fact complex determiner phrases consisting of a covert definite determiner and a count noun—and so, a referential name is a definite description. In this paper, I will argue that despite the appearance of increased theoretical complexity, the view that names are ambiguous between predicative and referential types is in fact superior to the unitary the-predicativist view. However, I will also argue that to see why this ambiguity view is better, we need to give up the standard Millian analysis. Consequently, I will first propose an alternative analysis of referential names that retains the virtues of Millianism, but provides an important explanatory connection to the predicative uses. Once this analysis of names is adopted, the explanation for why names are systematically ambiguous between referential and predicative types is both simple and elegant. Second, I will argue that the-predicativism has the appearance of being simpler than an ambiguity view, but is in fact unable to account for certain key properties of referential names without making ad hoc stipulations. (shrink)
Jonathan Berg’s insightful and lucid book Direct Belief develops a pragmatic account of our intuitions about Frege-cases. More precisely Berg argues that our practice of belief-reporting normally exhibits certain regularities. He argues that utterances of belief reports typically conversationally implicate that the reports adhere to these regularities. And he uses these implicatures to explain our intuitions about Frege-cases. I explore and unpack Berg’s pragmatic account, considering and offering responses to three natural worries that might be raised. In particular, I respond (...) to the objection that the regularities Berg invokes cannot generate the conversational implicatures he claims. I respond to the objection that the regularities Berg invokes do not, in fact, obtain. And I respond to the worry that Berg cannot explain how these regularities might arise in the first place. (shrink)
We have witnessed a fundamental change of perspective in the conception of reference. What the proponents of the new approach criticized and what they proposed to abandon is relatively clear; it is much less clear though what is at the heart of the philosophy that inspired the change. The proponents of the new approach all agreed in disagreeing with Frege: natural languages may, and in fact do, contain expressions that refer without the mediation of a Fregean sense. The core motto (...) of the revolution can thus be summarized in a phrase: there are linguistic devices of pure reference. It is difficult though to put one's finger on a clear characterization of what pure reference consists in. This is so, I believe, because, underlying the anti-Fregean slogans, there are two different ideas which are not just two conceptually different ways of characterizing the same phenomenon. The two conflict in the classifications that they generate, because they rely on different conceptions of the essence of pure, genuine reference. (shrink)
As our data will show, negative existential sentences containing socalled empty names evoke the same strong semantic intuitions in ordinary speakers and philosophers alike.Santa Claus does not exist.Superman does not exist.Clark Kent does not exist.Uttering the sentences in (1) seems to say something truth-evaluable, to say something true, and to say something different for each sentence. A semantic theory ought to explain these semantic intuitions.The intuitions elicited by (1) are in apparent conflict with the Millian view of proper names. According (...) to Millianism, the meaning (or 'semantic value') of a proper name is just its referent. But empty names, such as 'Santa Claus' and 'Superman', appear to lack a .. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill (1843) thought that proper names denote individuals and do not connote attributes. Contemporary Millians agree, in spirit. We hold that the semantic content of a proper name is simply its referent. We also think that the semantic content of a declarative sentence is a Russellian structured proposition whose constituents are the semantic contents of the sentence’s constituents. This proposition is what the sentence semantically expresses. Therefore, we think that sentences containing proper names semantically express singular propositions, which (...) are propositions having individuals as constituents. For instance, the sentence ‘George W. Bush is human’ semantically expresses a proposition that has Bush himself as a constituent. Call this theory Millianism. Many philosophers initially find Millianism quite appealing, but find it much less so after considering its many apparent problems. Among these problems are those raised by non-referring names, which are sometimes (tendentiously) called empty names. Plausible examples of empty names include certain names from fiction, such as ‘Sherlock Holmes’, which I shall call fictional names, and certain names from myth and false scientific theory, such as ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Vulcan’, which I shall call mythical names. I have defended Millianism from objections concerning empty names in previous work (Braun 1993). In this paper, I shall re-present those objections, along with some new ones. I shall then describe my previous Millian theory of empty names, and my previous replies to the objections, and consider whether the theory or replies need revision. I shall next consider whether fictional and mythical names are really empty. I shall argue that at least some utterances of mythical names are. (shrink)
Variabilism is the view that proper names (like pronouns) are semantically represented as variables. Referential names, like referential pronouns, are assigned their referents by a contextual variable assignment (Kaplan 1989). The reference parameter (like the world of evaluation) may also be shifted by operators in the representation language. Indeed verbs that create hyperintensional contexts, like ‘think’, are treated as operators that simultaneously shift the world and assignment parameters. By contrast, metaphysical modal operators shift the world of assessment only. Names, being (...) variables, refer rigidly in the latter merely intensional contexts, but may vary their reference in hyperintensional contexts. This conforms to the intuition that the content of attitude ascriptions encapsulates referential uncertainty. Furthermore, names in hyperintensional contexts are ambiguous between de re* and de dicto* interpretations. This fact is used to account for asymmetric mistaken identity attributions (for example, Biron thinks Katherine is Rosaline, but he doesn’t think Rosaline is Katherine). -/- The variable theory compares favourably with its alternatives, including Millianism and descriptivism. Millians cannot account for the behaviour of names in hyperintensional contexts, while descriptivists cannot generate a necessary contrast between intensional and hyperintensional contexts. No other theory can capture the facts pertaining to the existentially bound use of names. (shrink)
For those who endorse Millianism and take ‘Sherlock Holmes’ to be an empty name, the sentence ‘Sherlock Holmes is clever’ may not count as expressing a complete proposition. The sentence ‘According to the fiction, Sherlock Holmes is clever’, however, should count as expressing a true proposition. I attempt to reconcile these two intuitions by arguing that ‘According to the fiction’ is a two-dimensional operator: to evaluate a statement of the form ‘According to the fiction, S’ at world @ (where (...) @ is also taken to be the actual world), we evaluate S at the world of the fiction (where the fiction is also taken to be the actual world). (shrink)
Abstract According to Russellianism, the content of a Russellian thought, in which a person ascribes a monadic property to an object, can be represented as an ordered couple of the object and the property. A consequence of this is that it is not possible for a person to believe that a is F and not to believe b is F, when a=b. Many critics of Russellianism suppose that this is possible and thus that Russellianism is false. Several arguments for this (...) claim are criticized and it is argued that Russellians need not appeal to representational notions in order to defeat them. Contrary to popular opinion, the prospects for a pure Russellianism, a Russellianism without representations, are in fact very good. (shrink)
In the semantic revolution that has led many philosophers of language away from Fregeanism and towards the acceptance of direct reference, the notion of rigidity introduced by Saul Kripke in Naming and Necessity has played a crucial role. The notions of rigidity and direct reference are indeed different, but proponents of new theories of reference agree that there is a one way connection between them: although not all rigid terms are directly referential (witness rigid definite descriptions), all directly referential terms (...) are rigid. My purpose in this paper is to contest this widely held view. I will argue that, on a certain conception of what direct reference is (a conception present in the works of the main proponents of the theory), the fact that a term is directly referential does not entail that it is rigid. From this conclusion, I will argue, we can learn some substantial lessons about the assumptions and commitments of new theories of reference. (shrink)
Although Professor Schiffer and I have many times disagreed, I share his deep and abiding commitment to argument as a primary philosophical tool. Regretting any communication failure that has occurred, I endeavor here to make clearer my earlier reply in “Illogical Belief” to Schiffer’s alleged problem for my version of Millianism.1 I shall be skeletal, however; the interested reader is encouraged to turn to “Illogical Belief” for detail and elaboration. I have argued that to bear a propositional attitude de (...) re is to bear that attitude toward the corresponding singular proposition, no more and no less. If this is right, then according to Millianism every instance of the following modal schema is true. (shrink)
Millianism is a thesis in philosophy of language that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent. Millianism faces certain puzzles called Frege's Puzzles. Some Millians defend the view by appealing to a metaphysics of belief that involves Ways of Believing. In the first part of this paper, I argue that ethical naturalists can adopt this Millian strategy to resist Moore’s Open Question argument. While this strategy of responding to the Open Question Argument has already appeared (...) in the literature, I show that the Millian strategy can be easily extended to other versions of the Open Question Argument that are alleged to be stronger than the original formulation. The allegedly stronger versions of the Open Question Argument are not straightforwardly Frege's Puzzles, but they still have analogue versions that have been presented against Millianism. What the Ways Millian can say against those analogue versions can easily be applied to these other versions of the Open Question Argument. (shrink)
Donnellan famously argued that while one can fix the reference of a name with a definite description, one cannot thereby have a de re belief about the named object. All that is generated is meta-linguistic knowledge that the sentence “If there is a unique F, then N is F” is true. Donnellan’s argument and the sceptical position are extremely influential. This article aims to show that Donnellan’s argument is unsound, and that the Millian who embraces Donnellan’s scepticism that the reference-fixer (...) cannot secure the relevant de re belief faces a serious problem: Millianism about names plus scepticism about the reference-fixer’s de re belief conflicts with what seems to be an analytical thesis about the relationship between semantic content and understanding. The upshot is that the Millian has good reason to seek an alternative to scepticism. (shrink)
There is a fairly general consensus that names are Millian (or Russellian) genuine terms, that is, are singular terms whose sole semantic function is to introduce a referent into the propositions expressed by sentences containing the term. This answers the question as to what sort of proposition is expressed by use of sentences containing names. But there is a second serious semantic problem about proper names, that of how the referents of proper names are determined. This is the question that (...) I will discuss in this paper. Various views consistent with Millianism have been proposed as to how the semantic referents of proper names are determined. These views can be classified into (1) description theories and (2) causal theories, but they can also be classified into (3) social practice theories, on which a name’s referent is determined by a social practice involving the referent, and (4) individualistic theories, on which the referent of the use of a name is determined by the speaker’s state of mind. Here I argue against social practice theories of the sorts proposed by Kripke and Evans and in favor of an individualistic approach to name reference. I argue that social practice is irrelevant to determining name reference and that, as a consequence, names have no meanings in natural languages. In the second part of the paper I motivate and propose a new form of individualistic theory which incorporates features of both description theories and Evans’s social practice theory. (shrink)