One reason to think that names have a predicate-type semantic value is that they naturally occur in count-noun positions: ‘The Michaels in my building both lost their keys’; ‘I know one incredibly sharp Cecil and one that's incredibly dull’. Predicativism is the view that names uniformly occur as predicates. Predicativism flies in the face of the widely accepted view that names in argument position are referential, whether that be Millian Referentialism, direct-reference theories, or even Fregean Descriptivism. But (...)names are predicates in all of their occurrences; they are predicates that are true of their bearers. When a name appears as a bare singular in argument position, it really occupies the predicate position of what in this essay is called a denuded definite description: a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. Sloat provided good evidence for this. The definite article is sometimes pronounced with names in the singular: ‘The Ivan we all love doesn't feel well’. Sloat proposed a disjunctive generalization of when the definite article must be pronounced with a singular name. This essay shows that by slightly revising Sloat's generalization, we arrive at a simple, nondisjunctive, syntactic rule that governs the overt appearance of the definite article with singular names. But Ivan does not necessarily bear the name ‘Ivan’, so one might worry that the sentence “Ivan might not have had ‘Ivan’ as a name” would incorrectly be predicted false. This essay shows that Predicativism does not have this consequence by showing that incomplete definite descriptions in general and incomplete denuded descriptions, such as ‘Øthe Ivan’, in particular are rigid designators. (shrink)
_Naming and Necessity_ has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this is (...) it. (shrink)
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. (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)
The problem of intersubjective identification arises from the difficulties of explaining how our thoughts and discourse about fictional characters can be directed towards the same (or different) characters given the assumption that there are no fictional entities. In this paper I aim to offer a solution in terms of participation in a practice of thinking and talking about the same thing, which is inspired by Sainsbury's name-using practices. I will critically discuss a similar idea that was put forward by Friend (...) in terms of participation in what Perry calls a notion-network. I will then argue in favor of Sainsbury's baptism-based approach against Perry's information-based approach and I will answer some recent objections that Friend put forward against the former. (shrink)
Fictional names pose a difficult puzzle for semantics. We can truthfully maintain that Frodo is a hobbit, while at the same time admitting that Frodo does not exist. To reconcile this paradox I propose a way to formalize the interpretation of fiction as ‘prescriptions to imagine’ (Walton 1990) within an asymmetric semantic framework in the style of Kamp (1990). In my proposal, fictional statements are analyzed as dynamic updates on an imagination component of the interpreter’s mental state, while plain (...) assertions are updates on a belief component. Proper names – regular, empty, or fictional – are uniformly analyzed as presupposition triggers. The possibility of different attitude components referentially depending on each other is what ultimately allows us to account for the central paradox mentioned above. (shrink)
Proponents of the predicate view of names explain the reference of an occurrence of a name N by invoking the property of bearing N. They avoid the charge that this view involves a vicious circularity by claiming that bearing N is not itself to be understood in terms of the reference of actual or possible occurrences of N. I argue that this approach is fundamentally mistaken. The phenomenon of ‘reference transfer’ shows that an individual can come to bear a (...) name in virtue of the referential practices of a group of speakers. I develop a picture of name-bearing which captures this fact by treating the extension of name as a function of the way that extension is represented in the presuppositions of groups of speakers. I show that though there is a form of circularity inherent in this approach, it is not vicious circularity. (shrink)
The notion of common ground is important for the production of referring expressions: In order for a referring expression to be felicitous, it has to be based on shared information. But determining what information is shared and what information is privileged may require gathering information from multiple sources, and constantly coordinating and updating them, which might be computationally too intensive to affect the earliest moments of production. Previous work has found that speakers produce overinformative referring expressions, which include privileged (...) class='Hi'>names, violating Grice’s Maxims, and concluded that this is because they do not mark the distinction between shared and privileged information. We demonstrate that speakers are in fact quite effective in marking this distinction in the form of their utterances. Nonetheless, under certain circumstances, speakers choose to overspecify privileged names. (shrink)
Saul Kripke's thesis that ordinary proper names are rigid designators is supported by widely shared intuitions about the occurrence of names in ordinary modal contexts. By those intuitions names are scopeless with respect to the modal expressions. That is, sentences in a pair like (a) Aristotle might have been fond of dogs, (b) Concerning Aristotle, it is true that he might have been fond of dogs will have the same truth value. The same does not in general (...) hold for definite descriptions. If one, like Kripke, accounts for this difference by means of the intensions of the names and the descriptions, the conclusion is that names do not in general have the same intension as any normal, identifying description. However, this difference can be accounted for alternatively by appeal to the semantics of the modal expressions. On the account we suggest, dubbed 'relational modality', simple singular terms, like proper names, contribute to modal contexts simply by their actual world reference, not by their descriptive content. That account turns out to be fully equivalent with the rigidity account when it comes to truth of modal and non-modal sentence (with respect to the actual world), and hence supports the same basic intuitions. Here we present the relational modality account and compare it with others, in particular Kripke's own. (shrink)
This paper is about how to interpret and evaluate purported evidence for predicativism about proper names. I aim to point out some underappreciated thorny issues and to offer both predicativists and non-predicativists some advice about how best to pursue their respective projects. I hope to establish three related claims: that non-predicativists have to posit relatively exotic, though not entirely implausible, polysemic mechanisms to capture the range of data that predicativists have introduced ; that neither referentialism nor extant versions of (...) predicativism can offer a very plausible account of the interpretive possibilities for singular unmodified definite descriptions containing names ; and that the most plausible version of predicativism would treat bare names as non-anaphoric definite descriptions. (shrink)
_Language, Names, and Information_ is an important contribution to philosophy of language by one of its foremost scholars, challenging the pervasive view that the description theory of proper names is dead in the water, and defending a version of the description theory from a perspective on language that sees words as a wonderful source of information about the nature of the world we live in. Challenges current pervasive view that the description theory of reference for proper names (...) has been refuted Discusses several topics at the center of current debates, including representation and information, two-dimensionalism, possible worlds, and broad vs. narrow content Maintains the conversational and somewhat informal tone of the original lectures upon which the book is based. (shrink)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of proper names and indexicals, combining insights from the competing traditions of referentialism, championed by Kripke and Kaplan, and descriptivism, introduced by Frege and Russell, and more recently resurrected by Geurts and Elbourne, among others. From the referentialist tradition, I borrow the proof that names and indexicals are not synonymous to any definite description but pick their referent from the context directly. From the descriptivist tradition, I take the observation that names, (...) and to some extent indexicals, have uses that are best understood by analogy with anaphora and definite descriptions, that is, following Geurts, in terms of presupposition projection. The hybrid analysis that I propose is couched in Layered Discourse Representation Theory. Proper names and indexicals trigger presuppositions in a dedicated layer, which is semantically interpreted as providing a contextual anchor for the interpretation of the other layers. For the proper resolution of DRSs with layered presuppositions, I add two constraints to van der Sandt's algorithm. The resulting proposal accounts for both the classic philosophical examples and the new linguistic data, preserving a unified account of the preferred rigid interpretation of both names and indexicals, while leaving room for non-referential readings under contextual pressure. (shrink)
The natural name theory, recently discussed by Johnson (2018), is proposed as an explanation of pure quotation where the quoted term(s) refers to a linguistic object such as in the sentence ‘In the above, ‘bank’ is ambiguous’. After outlining the theory, I raise a problem for the natural name theory. I argue that positing a resemblance relation between the name and the linguistic object it names does not allow us to rule out cases where the natural name fails to (...) resemble the linguistic object it names. I argue that to avoid this problem, we can combine the natural name theory with a type-realist metaphysics of language, and hold that the name is natural because the name is an instance of the kind that it names. I conclude by reflecting on the importance of the metaphysics of language for questions in the philosophy of language. (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)
Philosophers and theorists have long been puzzled by humans' ability to talk about things that do not exist, or to talk about things that they think exist but, in fact, do not. _Empty Names, Fiction, and the Puzzles of Non-Existence_ is a collection of 13 new works concerning the semantic and metaphysical issues arising from empty names, non-existence, and the nature of fiction. The contributors include some of the most important researchers working in these fields. Some of the (...) papers develop and defend new positions on these matters, while others offer important new perspectives and criticisms of the existing approaches. The volume contains a comprehensive introductory essay by the editors, which provides a survey of the philosophical issues concerning empty names, the various responses to these issues, and the literature on the subject to date. (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)
Standard lore has it that a proper name is a temporally rigid designator. It picks out the same entity at every time at which it picks out an entity at all. If the entity in question is an enduring continuant then we know what this means, though we are also stuck with a host of metaphysical puzzles concerning endurance itself. If the entity in question is a perdurant then the rigidity claim is trivial, though one is left wondering how it (...) is that different speakers ever manage to pick out one and the same entity when a host of suitable, overlapping candidates are available. But what if the entity in question is neither a continuant nor a perdurant? What if the things we talk about in ordinary language are time-bound entities that cannot truly be said to persist through time, or stage sequences whose unity resides exclusively in our minds--like the “waves” at the stadium or the characters of a cartoon? In such cases the rigidity claim can’t be right and a counterpart-theoretic semantics seems required. Is that bad? I say it isn’t. And it had better not be, if that turns out to be the best metaphysical option we have. (shrink)
In recent years a number of authors sympathetic to Referentialistaccounts of proper names have argued that utterances containingempty names express `gappy,' or incomplete, propositions. In this paper I want to take issue with this suggestion.In particular, I argue versions of this approach developedby David Braun, Nathan Salmon, Ken Taylor, and by Fred Adams,Gary Fuller, and Robert Stecker.
Names are rigid designators, but what kind of rigidity do they exhibit? Both “obstinately” and “persistently” rigid designators pick out O at every world at which they pick out anything at all. They differ in that obstinately rigid designators also pick out O at worlds at which O fails to exist; persistently rigid designators have no extension whatsoever at worlds at which O fails to exist. The question whether names are obstinate or persistent arises in two contexts: in (...) arguments against rigidified descriptivism (on the grounds that names and rigidified descriptions exhibit different kinds of rigidity) and in considerations about what it means for an expression to be “directly referential.” This paper contends that names are persistent, not obstinate. The position thus clarifies the relationship between Millian theories of names and rigid designation, in addition to undermining attempts to rehabilitate the modal argument against rigidified descriptivism. (shrink)
What are the meanings of empty names such as ‘Vulcan,’ ‘Pegasus,’ and ‘Santa Claus’ in such sentences as ‘Vulcan is the tenth planet,’ ‘Pegasus flies,’ and especially ‘Santa Claus does not exist’?Our view, developed in Adams et al., consists of a direct-reference account of the meaning of empty names in combination with a pragmatic-implicature account of why we have certain intuitions that seem to conflict with a direct-reference account.
One of the great American pragmatic philosophers alongside Peirce and Dewey, William James delivered these eight lectures in Boston and New York in the winter of 1906–7. Though he credits Peirce with coining the term 'pragmatism', James highlights in his subtitle that this 'new name' describes a philosophical temperament as old as Socrates. The pragmatic approach, he says, takes a middle way between rationalism's airy principles and empiricism's hard facts. James' pragmatism is both a method of interpreting ideas by their (...) practical consequences and an epistemology which identifies truths according to their useful outcomes. Furnished with many examples, the lectures illustrate pragmatism's response to classic problems such as the question of free will versus determinism. Published in 1907, this work further develops James's approach to religion and morality, introduced in The Will to Believe and The Varieties of Religious Experience , both reissued in this series. (shrink)
Names and natural kind terms have long been a major focus of debates about meaning and reference. This article discusses some of the theories and arguments that have appeared in those debates. It is remarkably difficult to say what names are without making controversial theoretical assumptions. This article does not attempt to do so here. It instead relies on paradigm examples that nearly all theorists would agree are proper names, for instance, ‘Aristotle’, ‘Mark Twain’, ‘London’, ‘Venus’, and (...) ‘Pegasus’. All of the proper names that are discussed in the article are singular nouns that have no syntactic structure. Most of them refer to objects, but some, such as ‘Pegasus’, apparently do not. The article begins with proper names and the question ‘What is the meaning of a proper name?’ It turns to natural kind terms later. (shrink)
_From Naming to Saying_ explores the classicquestion of the unity of the proposition, combining an historical approach with contemporary causal theories to offer a unique and novel solution. Presents compelling and sophisticated answers to questions about how language represents the world. Defends a novel approach to the classical question about the unity of the proposition. Examines three key historical theories: Frege’s doctrine of concept and object, Russell’s analysis of the sentence, and Wittgenstein’s picture theory of meaning. Combines an historical approach (...) with discussion and defense of a contemporary causal theory of the unity of the proposition. Establishes a view compatible with, though not dependent on, a causal theory of meaning. (shrink)
Biological taxonomists rely on the so-called ‘type method’ to regulate taxonomic nomenclature. For each newfound taxon, they lay down a ‘type specimen’ that carries with it the name of the taxon it belongs to. Even if a taxon’s circumscription is unknown and/or subject to change, it remains a necessary truth that the taxon’s type specimen falls within its boundaries. Philosophers have noted some time ago that this naming practice is in line with the causal theory of reference and its central (...) notion of rigid designation: a type specimen fixes the reference of a taxon name without defining it. Recently, however, this consensus has come under pressure in the pages of this journal. In a series of articles by Alex Levine, Joseph LaPorte, and Matthew Haber, it has been argued that type specimens belong only contingently to their species, and that this may bode problems for the relation between type method and causal theory. I will argue that this ‘contingency debate’ is a debate gone wrong, and that none of the arguments in defense of contingency withstand scrutiny. Taxonomic naming is not out of step with the causal theory, but conforms to it. However, I will also argue that this observation is itself in need of further explanation, since application of the type method in taxonomic practice is plagued by errors and ambiguities that threaten it with breaking down. Thus, the real question becomes why taxonomic naming conforms to the causal theory in the first place. I will show that the answer lies in the embedding of the type method into elaborate codes of nomenclature. (shrink)
Stefano Predelli defends a semantics of proper names which has simplicity and common sense in its favour: proper names are non-indexical devices of rigid and direct reference. He grounds this view in accounts of the shape and form of names, and of their introduction within language use, and he responds to widespread misconceptions and objections.
This study offers a ckomprehensive new interpretation of one of Plato's dialogues, the _Cratylus_. Throughout, the book combines analysis of Plato's arguments with attentiveness to his philosophical method.
In this paper, I will show that typical formal semantic reconstructions of the rigidity of proper names neglect the important aspect that the rigidity of names is determined by our ordinary use of a name relative to the actual world. This fact was clearly pointed out by Kripke, but overlooked by the subsequent discussion concerning this topic. Based on this diagnosis, I will distinguish three different actualized notions of rigidity. Firstly, I will introduce two different new varieties of (...) known versions of rigidity; namely, actualized persistent and actualized obstinate rigidity. Secondly, I will make use of the tools provided by free logic and introduce a new and overlooked version of rigidity, which I will call actually restricted rigidity. Against this background, I will argue that we have different options to formally model the rigidity of proper names in natural languages. Which option we choose, mainly depends on our philosophical background assumptions. For someone who believes in non-existent objects and the possibility of naming such objects, it is the best choice to hold that proper names are actually obstinately rigid designators. For someone who rejects non-existent objects and the possibility of naming such objects, actually restricted rigidity is a better choice than actualized persistent rigidity. (shrink)
The essay adopts the Tractarian view that configurations of objects are expressed by configurations of names. Two alternatives are considered: The objects in atomic facts are (1) without exception particulars; (2) one or more particulars plus a universal (Gustav Bergmann). On (1) a mode of configuration is always an empirical relation: on (2) it is the logical nexus of 'exemplification.' It is argued that (1) is both Wittgenstein's view in the Tractatus and correct. It is also argued that exemplification (...) is a 'quasi-semantical' relation, and that it (and universals) are "in the world" only in that broad sense in which the 'world' includes linguistic norms and roles viewed (thus in translating) from the standpoint of a fellow participant. (shrink)
This essay is meant to shed light on a discourse that spans centuries and includes different voices. To be aware of such trans-textual resonances can add a level of historical understanding to the reading of philosophical texts. Specifically, we intend to demonstrate how the notion of the ineffable Dao 道, prominently expressed in the Daodejing 道德經, informs a long discourse on incongruent names in distinction to a mainstream paradigm that demands congruity between names and what they designate. Thereby, (...) we trace the development of the idea of the ineffable Dao quite differently from modern mystical interpretations. We show how, in an early Chinese context, it first gives rise to a sociopolitical critique of the incongruity underlying socially constructed names in the Zhuangzi 莊子, then to a discourse on the incongruity between moral virtues and names in Xuanxue 玄學 philosophy, and eventually to Sengzhao’s 僧肇 claim that a perceived congruence of names with things does not entail actual congruence between names and reality. (shrink)
Combining elements from Heidegger’s philosophy of “being-in-the-world” and the tradition of Jewish theology, Levinas has evolved a new type of ethics based on a concept of “the Other” in two different but complementary aspects. He describes his encounters with those philosophers and literary authors (most of them his contemporaries) whose writings have most significantly contributed to the construction of his own philosophy of “Otherness”: Agnon, Buber, Celan, Delhomme, Derrida, Jabès, Kierkegaard, Lacroix, Laporte, Picard, Proust, Van Breda, Wahl, and, most notably, (...) Blanchot. At the same time, Levinas’s own texts are inscriptions and documents of those encounters with “Others” around which his philosophy is turning. Thus the texts simultaneously convey an immediate experience of how his intellectual position emerged and how it is put into practice. A third potential function of the book is that it unfolds the network of references and persons in philosophical debates since Kierkegaard. (shrink)
This paper defends a version of the realist view that fictional characters exist. It argues for an instance of abstract realist views, according to which fictional characters are roles, constituted by sets of properties. It is argued that fictional names denote individual concepts, functions from worlds to individuals. It is shown that a dynamic framework for understanding the evolution of discourse information can be used to understand how roles are created and develop along with story content. Taking fictional (...) class='Hi'>names to denote individual concepts provides accounts of a number of uses of fictional names. These include non-fictional uses, fictional uses, metafictional uses, interfictional uses, counterfictional uses, and negative existentials. It is argued that this account is not open to objections that have been raised in the literature. (shrink)
A journal editor recently apologised for publishing a 2010 paper in which authors designated an enzyme as New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) and its related gene blaNDM-1 after a city, New Delhi. This name had raised an outcry in India, with health authorities, media and medical practitioners demanding New Delhi be dropped from the name. The name was actually first given in another 2009 paper, whose corresponding author remains the same as the 2010 paper. There is a tradition of eponymous (...) class='Hi'>names in science. But those found derogatory to races, groups, cities, and countries have been changed. For example, Mongolism was changed to Down's syndrome; Australia antigen to HBsAg; Mexican Swine flu to H1N1; GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and 4H-Disease (Haitians, Homosexuals, Haemophiliacs and Heroin Users Disease) to AIDS. It is necessary that NDM-1 also be changed to a name based on scientific characteristics. NDM-1 must be changed to PCM (plasmid-encoding carbapenem-resistant metallo-β-lactamase). It is also necessary to review the tradition of naming organisms, diseases, genes, etc. after cities, countries and races. Often, such names giving amounts to names calling. It needs to be discarded by scientists in all new names giving from now on. Geographical and racial names giving must be replaced by scientific names giving. Journal editors must ensure that such scientific names giving is laid down as standard guideline in paper submissions. All such names still in currency need to be phased out by replacing them with names based on scientific characteristics, or in honour of their pioneering scientist/s or institutions. The lead author of the above 2010 paper has said he was not consulted about the final draft and did not agree with the conclusions of the paper. To ensure that corresponding authors do not ride roughshod over co-authors, and lead and other authors do not backtrack on papers, editors must ensure written concurrence of all authors, especially the lead author, to the final draft of a paper and include this in their guidelines for paper submissions. (shrink)
Empty proper names give rise to intriguing questions. Frege, Moore and Russell stand at the beginning of analytic philosophy's engagement with these questions. In this paper I will therefore introduce and assess their views on the topic of empty names and draw connections to recent work.
In this paper we defend a direct reference theory of names. We maintain that the meaning of a name is its bearer. In the case of vacuous names, there is no bearer and they have no meaning. We develop a unified theory of names such that one theory applies to names whether they occur within or outside fiction. Hence, we apply our theory to sentences containing names within fiction, sentences about fiction or sentences making comparisons (...) across fictions. We then defend our theory against objections and compare our view to the views of Currie, Walton, and others. (shrink)
Saul Kripke, in a series of classic writings of the 1960s and 1970s, changed the face of metaphysics and philosophy of language. Christopher Hughes offers a careful exposition and critical analysis of Kripke's central ideas about names, necessity, and identity. He clears up some common misunderstandings of Kripke's views on rigid designation, causality and reference, and the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori. Through his engagement with Kripke's ideas Hughes makes a significant contribution to ongoing debates on, inter (...) alia, the semantics of natural kind terms, the nature of natural kinds, the essentiality of origin and constitution, the relative merits of 'identitarian' and counterpart-theoretic accounts of modality, and the identity or otherwise of mental types and tokens with physical types and tokens. No specialist knowledge in either the philosophy of language or metaphysics is presupposed; Hughes's book will be valuable for anyone working on the ideas which Kripke made famous in the philosophy world. (shrink)
Some of the fundamental lessons of the so-called revolution against descriptivism that occurred in the 70s are negative and it is not immediately apparent what kind of semantic theory should emerge as regards proper names, the alleged paradigms of genuinely referential terms. Some of the claims about names, most notably Ruth Barcan Marcus’ characterization of names as tags, appear to be too picturesque to provide the basis for a positive theory and, without a theory, it would seem (...) that the referential link between name and bearer is established by pure magic. Some authors have appealed to the causal-historical picture to construct a positive theory, and have endorsed causal descriptivism, a variety of descriptivism that incorporates causal factors. I argue against causal descriptivism and I assess the demand for a positive semantic theory of names. (shrink)
This paper outlines a framework for the abstract investigation of the concept of canonicity of names and of naming systems. Degrees of canonicity of names and of naming systems are distinguished. The structure of the degrees is investigated, and a notion of relative canonicity is defined. The notions of canonicity are formally expressed within a Carnapian system of second-order modal logic.
In this study of events and their places in our language and thought, Bennett propounds and defends views about what kind of item an event is, how the language of events works, and about how these two themes are interrelated. He argues that most of the supposedly metaphysical literature is really about the semantics of their names, and that the true metaphysic of events--known by Leibniz and rediscovered by Kim--has not been universally accepted because it has been tarred with (...) the brush of a false semantic theory. (shrink)