A widely accepted thesis in the philosophy of language is that natural language proper names are rigid designators, and that they are so de jure, or as a matter of the “semantic rules of the language.” This paper questions this claim, arguing that rigidity cannot be plausibly construed as a property of name types and that the alternative, rigidity construed as a property of tokens, means that they cannot be considered rigid de jure; rigidity in this case must be viewed (...) as a pragmatic and not a semantic property. (shrink)
This paper has two purposes: the first is to critically examine Kripke’s well-known arguments against Descriptivism and suggest that they are not as decisive as many have thought; the second is to argue that proper names do encode descriptive information of various kinds, that such information may be truth-conditionally significant, and hence that a name’s truth-conditional contribution is not limited to its referent.
The Direct Reference view of proper names remains popular today, even though it is dogged by three longstanding problems: Frege’s puzzle of identity statements, Frege’s second puzzle concerning substitution in non-extensional contexts, and the problem of empty names. This paper criticizes the recent attempts by Braun and Soames to rescue Direct Reference from these traditional objections.
This paper questions the claim that definite descriptions have a referential semantics. Two possible definitions of “referential meaning” are discussed, and it is argued that definite descriptions are not referential according to either one. Devitt’s (2004, 2007) recent account of descriptions’ referential meaning is also briefly examined, and some problems with it are pointed out. It is suggested (though not shown) that the troubles with specifying exactly in what sense definite descriptions are referential point to the incoherence of the very (...) notion of semantic reference and support instead a pragmatic understanding of reference. In Spanish. (shrink)
This paper argues that English quantifier phrases of the form ‘every F’ admit of a literal referential interpretation, contrary to the standard semantic account of this expression, according to which it denotes a set and a second-order relation. Various arguments are offered in favor of the referential interpretation, and two likely objections to it are forestalled.
This paper challenges the Kripke-Putnam thesis about natural kind terms, according to which natural kind terms are referential and rigid. I argue that natural kind terms are semantically underdetermined expressions, and are therefore intrinsically neither referential nor rigid. After reviewing Kripke’s and Putnam’s original arguments, I look at examples of natural kind terms discussed by them and others in the literature, aiming to show that they are indeed semantically underdetermined. I conclude that contextualist considerations should be taken into account to (...) explain the differing truth-conditional values these expressions may have. In Spanish. (shrink)