While propernames in argument positions have received a lot of attention, this cannot be said about propernames in the naming construction, as in “Call me Al”. I argue that in a number of more or less familiar languages the syntax of naming constructions is such that propernames there have to be analyzed as predicates, whose content mentions the name itself (cf. “quotation theories”). If propernames can enter syntax as (...) predicates, then in argument positions they should have a complex structure, consisting of a determiner and its restriction, like common nouns (cf. “definite description theories of propernames”). Further consideration of the compositional semantics of propernames in the naming construction also shows that they have another argument slot, that of the naming convention. As a result, we will be able to account for the indexicality of propernames in argument positions and provide compositional semantics of complex and modified propernames (e.g., the famous detective Sherlock Holmes ). (shrink)
Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of propernames, 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)
Saul Kripke's thesis that ordinary propernames 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 propernames, 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)
In this essay I will defend a novel version of the indexical view on propernames. According to this version, propernames have a relatively sparse truth-conditional meaning that is represented by their rigid content and indexical character, but a relatively rich use-conditional meaning, which I call the (contextual) constraint of a proper name. Firstly, I will provide a brief outline of my favoured indexical view on names in contrast to other indexical views proposed (...) in the relevant literature. Secondly, two general motivations for an indexical view on names will be introduced and defended. Thirdly, I will criticize the two most popular versions of the indexical view on names: formal variable accounts and salience-based formal constant accounts. In the fourth and final section, I will develop my own use-conditional indexical view on names in three different steps by confronting an initial version of this view with three different challenges. (shrink)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of propernames 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 (...) class='Hi'>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. Propernames 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)
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 propernames, that of how the referents of propernames 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 propernames 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)
A widely accepted thesis in the philosophy of language is that natural language propernames 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)
In the contemporary debate about the nature of persistence, stage theory is the view that ordinary objects (artefacts, animals, persons, etc.) are instantaneous and persist by being suitably related to other instantaneous objects. In this paper I focus on the issue of what stage theorists should say about the semantics of ordinary propernames, like ‘Socrates’ or ‘London’. I consider the remarks that stage theorists actually make about this issue, present some problems they face, and finally offer what (...) I take to be the best alternative available for them. (shrink)
Linguistics and philosophy have provided distinct views on the nature of reference to individuals in language. In philosophy, in particular in the tradition of direct reference, the distinction is between reference and description. In linguistics, in particular in the tradition of generative grammar, the distinction is between pronouns and R-expressions. I argue for a third conception, grounded in dynamic semantics, in which the main watershed is between definites, which trigger presuppositions that want to be bound, and indefinites, which set up (...) new discourse referents. On this view, propernames, indexicals, and definite descriptions are all analyzed as presupposition triggers. (shrink)
Direct reference theorists tell us that propernames have no semantic value other than their bearers, and that the connection between name and bearer is unmediated by descriptions or descriptive information. And yet, these theorists also acknowledge that we produce our name-containing utterances with descriptions on our minds. After arguing that direct reference proponents have failed to give descriptions their due, I show that appeal to speaker-associated descriptions is required if the direct reference portrayal of speakers wielding and (...) referring with public names is to succeed. (shrink)
I defend what I believe to be a new variation on Kripkean themes, for the purpose of providing an improved way to understand the referring functions of propernames. I begin by discussing roles played by perceptual perspectives in the use of propernames, and then broaden the discussion to include what I call cognitive perspectives. Although both types of perspectives underwrite the existence of intentional intermediaries between propernames and their referents, the existence (...) of these intentional intermediaries does not entail that a Kripke-inspired view of direct reference must be abandoned. At the same time, the existence of these intermediaries can be seen to play illuminating roles as regards the referring functions of propernames in the following types of cases, among others: (a) where different names pick out the same subject; (b) where names are empty. Along the way, I argue that perspectival views are not something inside the head of language users as intended by Putnam in his well-known discussion of meaning. (shrink)
Since Kripke introduced rigid designation as an alternative to the Frege/Russell analysis of referential terms as definite descriptions, there has been an ongoing debate between 'descriptivists' and 'referentialists', mostly focusing on the semantics of propernames. Nowadays descriptivists can draw on a much richer set of linguistic data (including bound and accommodated propernames in discourse) as well as new semantic machinery (E-type syntax/semantics, DRT, presupposition-as-anaphora) to strengthen their case. After reviewing the current state of the (...) debate, I argue for a referentialist semantics that incorporates some modern insights from the side of the descriptivists in order to account for the new data in a principled fashion. (shrink)
Some time ago, Kripke argued that meta-linguistic analyses of propernames were utterly uninformative. I suggest here that his objection relies on conflating the language used to talk about a particular language L -- the meta-language -- with direct speech reports made within a language -- the object language. Making this distinction leads to an understanding of meta-linguistic analyses of propernames that are not simply tautologous, so long as we do not understand the meta-linguistic analysis (...) of, say, the expression 'quark' in the following way: the expression 'quark' is whatever we call a 'quark'. Instead, we should understand the analysis in the following way: the expression 'quark' is whatever we call a "quark," where the double quotes represent an act of reporting on direct speech, leaving open the possibility that a theorem like this can be informative insofar as we might be able to learn the meaning of the expression 'quark' by examining instances of the use of the expression "quark," Quinean worries aside. (shrink)
A thesis I call the name-based singular thought thesis is part of orthodoxy in contemporary philosophy of mind and language: it holds that taking part in communication involving a proper name puts one in a position to entertain singular thoughts about the name’s referent. I argue, first, that proponents of the NBT thesis have failed to explain the phenomenon of name-based singular thoughts, leaving it mysterious how name-use enables singular thoughts. Second, by outlining the reasoning that makes the NBT (...) thesis seem compelling and showing how it can be resisted, I argue that giving up the NBT thesis is not a cost, but rather a benefit. I do this by providing an expanded conception of understanding for communication involving names, which sheds light on the nature of communication involving names and the structure of name-using practices. (shrink)
The semantic issues that Saul Kripke addressed in Naming and Necessity overlap substantially with those that were addressed by Michel Foucault in “What Is an Author?”. The present essay examines their area of overlap, with a view to showing that each of these works affords a perspective on the other, from which facets that are usually obscure can be brought into view. It shows that Foucault needs to take some assumptions from Kripke’s theory of naming in order to secure one (...) of his arguments for treating authorial names as special. It then shows that, once it has been placed on these Kripkean foundations, Foucault’s position avoids the metaphysically peculiar commitments that are sometimes thought to be essential... (shrink)
The central aim of this paper is to argue against Evans’ hybrid theory of reference. I will show that Evans’ theory makes false predictions in the case of some thought-experiments. The paper has two sections. After providing a short presentation of Evans’ theory in the first section, I will move on to criticize it in the second section.
This paper studies the uses of propernames within a communication-theoretic setting, looking at both the conditions that govern the use of a name by a speaker and those involved in the correct interpretation of the name by her audience. The setting in which these conditions are investigated is provided by an extension of Discourse Representation Theory, MSDRT, in which mental states are represented as combinations of propositional attitudes and entity representations . The first half of the paper (...) presents the features of this framework that are needed to understand its application to the account of names that follows. N-labelled entity representations, where N is a proper name, play a pivotal part in this account: A speaker must have an N-labelled ER in order to be in a position to use a name N, and the interpreter must either have such a representation, or else construct one as part of his interpretation. The paper distinguishes different types of name uses in terms of what they presuppose about the role of N-labelled ERs on the side of the interpreter. (shrink)
Does the English demonstrative pronoun 'that' (including complex demonstratives of the form 'that F') have sense and reference? Unlike many other philosophers of language, Frege answers with a resounding 'No'. He held that the bearer of sense and reference is a so-called 'hybrid proper name' (Künne) that contains the demonstrative pronoun and specific circumstances of utterance such as glances and acts of pointing. In this paper I provide arguments for the thesis that demonstratives are hybrid propernames. (...) After outlining why Frege held the hybrid proper name view, I will defend it against recent criticism, and argue that it is superior to views that take demonstrative pronouns to be the bearer of semantic properties. (shrink)
The predicate view on propernames opts for a uniform semantic representation of proper nouns like ‘Alfred’ as predicates on the level of logical form. Early defences of this view can be found in Sloat (Language, vol. 45, pp. 26–30, 1969) and Burge (J. Philos. 70: 425–439, 1973), but there is an increasing more recent interest in this view on propernames. My paper aims to provide a reconstruction and critique of Burge’s main argument for (...) the predicate view on propernames, which is still used by several current philosophers in defence of this view. I have called this argument the unification argument. I will present a stepwise interpretation and reconstruction of this argument, consider several possible responses to it and defend a specific response to it in detail. (shrink)
Overview The debate over the semantics of propernames has, of late, heated up, focusing on the relative merits of referentialism and predicativism. Referentialists maintain that the semantic function of propernames is to designate individuals. They hold that a proper name, as it occurs in a sentence in a context of use, refers to a specific individual that is its referent and has just that individual as its semantic content, its contribution to the proposition (...) expressed by the sentence. Furthermore, a proper name contributes its referent to the proposition expressed by virtue of mechanisms of direct reference to individuals, not by virtue of expressing properties. Predicativists embrace an opposing view according to which propernames are just a special kind of common noun. Their semantic function is to designate properties of individuals. A proper name, as it occurs in a sentence in a context of use, expresses a property, and that property is its contribution to the proposition expr .. (shrink)
This paper develops a new account of reference-fixing for propernames. The account is built around an intuitive claim about reference fixing: the claim that I am a participant in a practice of using α to refer to o only if my uses of α are constrained by the representationally relevant ways it is possible for o to behave. §I raises examples that suggest that a right account of how propernames refer should incorporate this claim. (...) §II provides such an account. (shrink)
A standard methodology in philosophy of language is to use intuitions as evidence. Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich challenged this methodology with respect to theories of reference by presenting empirical evidence that intuitions about one prominent example from the literature on the reference of propernames vary between Westerners and East Asians. In response, Sytsma and Livengood conducted experiments to show that the questions Machery and colleagues asked participants in their study were ambiguous, and that this ambiguity affected (...) the responses given by Westerners. Sytsma and Livengood took their results to cast doubt on the claim that the current evidence indicates that there is cross-cultural variation in intuitions about the Gödel case. In this paper we report on a new cross-cultural study showing that variation in intuitions remains even after controlling for the ambiguity noted by Sytsma and Livengood. (shrink)
Saul Kripke in his revolutionary and influential series of lectures from the early 1970s (later published as the book Naming and Necessity) famously resurrected John Stuart Mill's theory of propernames. Kripke at the same time rejected Mill's theory of general terms. According to Kripke, many natural kind terms do not fit Mill's account of general terms and are closer to propernames. Unfortunately, Kripke and his followers ignored key passages in Mill's A System of Logic (...) in which Mill enunciates a sophisticated and detailed theory of natural kind terms that anticipates and is in some ways superior to Kripke's. (shrink)
Charles Peirce's theory of propernames is intimately connected to a number of central topics in contemporary philosophy of language and logic. Several papers have appeared in the past in which Peirce's theory of names has been attested to be a precursor of the causal-historical theory of reference.2 The causal-historical theory in turn has customarily been pigeonholed as the 'new' theories of reference that have been emerging since the 1950s (Devitt 1981; Donellan 1966; Kripke 1980; Marcus 1950; (...) Putnam 1973). Among those who have seen Peirce as such a precursor of the new theory of reference are DiLeo (1997), Hilpinen (1995), Maddalena (2006), Pape (1987), and Thibaud (1987). Related recent publications on the .. (shrink)
In this paper I provide novel arguments for the predicative approach to propernames, which claims that argument propernames are definite descriptions containing a naming predicate . I first argue that modified propernames, such as the incomparable Maria Callas or the other Francis Bacon cannot be handled on the hypothesis that argument propernames have no internal structure and uniformly denote entities. I then discuss cases like every Adolf, which would (...) normally be interpreted as every individual named Adolf and show that the predicative approach to propernames can straightforwardly account for the distribution of a detectable naming component in propernames. Finally, I address the issue of propernames used as common nouns and plural propernames and demonstrate that they do not form a homogenous group yet can be clearly distinguished on both syntactic and semantic grounds from propernames involving a detectable naming component. (shrink)
My aim is to show that once we appreciate how Searle (1958) fills in the details of his account of propernames – which I will dub the presuppositional view – and how we might supplement it further, we are in for a twofold discovery. First, Searle’s account is crucially unlike the so-called cluster-of-descriptions view, which many philosophers take Searle to have held. Second, the presuppositional view he did hold is interesting, plausible, and worthy of serious reconsideration. The (...) idea that Searle’s account is a largely Fregean interlude between the Fregean description theory of propernames and Kripke’s proposals presented in “Naming and Necessity” is in major ways a myth, a mythical chapter in how the story of 20th-century philosophy of language is often told. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to show that, far from being incompatible, a Predicate Theory of propernames and the Direct Reference thesis can be combined in a syncretistic account. There are at least three plausible such accounts – one which compares propernames in their referential use to referentially used proper definite descriptions, another one that compares them in this use to demonstratives, and a third one which, although it is as indexicalist as the (...) second one, conceives propernames in this use as a sui generis form of indexicals, indexinames. Finally, I will try to give both technical and substantive reasons as to why the third account is to be preferred to the other two. (shrink)
This paper addresses some data put forward by Geurts (1997) in support of his metalinguistic or quotation theory of propernames, according to which a name N means ‘the individual named N’. The data illustrate ten linguistic behaviours claimed to be shared by propernames and definite descriptions. I argue that in some cases the behaviours have a common explanation which is based on a property independent of Geurts' analysis, and that in the remaining cases the (...) behaviours are not actually shared. Thus these behaviours do not actually support the metalinguistic theory. (shrink)
In this paper I present a way of formally representing propernames in accordance with a description theory of reference–fixing and show that such arepresentation makes it possible to retain the claim about the rigidity of propernames and is not vulnerable to Kripke’s modal objection.
Searle has proposed a "presupposition-Theory" of propernames in which he maintains that names are not short for descriptions and which, He claims, Solves frege's puzzle as to how an identity-Sentence containing co-Referential names can be informative. Two possible interpretations of searle's view are proposed, And it is argued that neither interpretation can be used to solve frege's puzzle and that, On the most plausible interpretation of his view, Searle is committed to the thesis that (...) class='Hi'>names are short for descriptions after all. (shrink)
The Millian view that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent has long been popular among philosophers of language. It might even be deemed the orthodox view, despite its well-known difficulties. Fregean and Russellian alternatives, though widely discussed, are much less popular. The Predicate View has not even been taken seriously, at least until fairly recently, but finally, it is receiving the attention it deserves. It says that a name expresses the property of bearing that name. (...) Despite its apparent shortcomings, it has a distinct virtue: It straightforwardly reckons with the fact that propernames generally have multiple bearers and are sometimes used to ascribe the property of bearing a name rather than to refer to a particular bearer of the name. It holds that propernames are much the same as common nouns, both semantically and syntactically, with only superficial differences. They both can be quantified and modified. The main difference, at least in English, is that when used to refer a proper name, unlike a common noun, is not preceded by the definite article. The Predicate View accounts for manifestly predicative uses, but to be vindicated, it needs to do justice to the fact that the main use of propernames is to refer. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new, stronger version of the cluster theory of propernames. It introduces a meta-identifying rule that can establish a cluster's main descriptions and explain how they must be satisfied in order to allow the application of a proper name. At the same time, it preserves some main insights of the causal-historical view. With the resulting rule we can not only give a more detailed reply to the counter-examples to descriptivism, but also explain the (...) informative contents of propernames and why they are rigid designators in contrast with descriptions.1. (shrink)
Evolutionary theory has recently been applied to language. The aim of this paper is to contribute to such an evolutionary approach to language. I argue that Kripke’s causal account of propernames, from an ecological point of view, captures the information carried by uses of a proper name, which is that a certain object is referred to. My argument appeals to Millikan’s concept of local information, which captures information about the environment useful for an organism.
The purpose of this article is to explain how an account of propernames can be incorporated into a general account of the intentionality of mind and language. I show that such an account supports the so-Called descriptivist conception of propernames and in so doing I answer the objections of causal theorists.
The difference between common and propernames seems to derive from specific semantic characteristics of propernames. In particular, propernames refer to specific individual entities or events, and unlike common names, rarely map onto more general semantic characteristics (attributes, concepts, categories). This fact makes the link propernames have with their reference particularly fragile. Processing propernames seems, as a consequence, to require special cognitive and neural resources. Neuropsychological (...) findings show that propernames and common names follow functionally distinct processing pathways. These pathways are neurally distinct and differently sensitive to focal or generalized brain damage, cognitive changes with age or lack of organic resources. Their precise location, depending on specific tasks, is still partly unknown. (shrink)
Charles S. Peirce’s theory of propernames bears helpful insights for how we might think about his understanding of persons. Persons, on his view, are continuities, not static objects. I argue that Peirce’s notion of the legisign, particularly propernames, sheds light on the habitual and conventional elements of what it means to be a person. In this paper, I begin with an account of what philosophers of language have said about propernames in (...) order to distinguish Peirce’s theory of propernames from them. Then, I present Peirce’s semiotic theory of propernames, followed by some ways in which his theory can be applied to practical concerns, such as first impressions, name changing, identity, and temporary insanity. (shrink)
After a brief review of the notions of necessity and a priority, this paper scrutinizes Kripke's arguments for supposedly contingent a priori propositions and necessary a posteriori propositions involving propernames, and reaches a negative conclusion, i.e. there are no such propositions, or at least the propositions Kripke gives as examples are not such propositions. All of us, including Kripke himself, still have to face the old question raised by Hume, i.e. how can we justify the necessity and (...) universality of general statements on the basis of sensory or empirical evidence? (shrink)
Principally under the influence of Saul Kripke (1972), philosophical semantics since the closing decades of 20th century has been dominated by thephenomenon Nathan Salmon (1986) aptly dubbed Direct Reference “mania.” Accordingly, it is now practically orthodox to hold that the meanings of propernames are entirely exhausted by their referents and devoid of any descriptive content. The return to a purely referential semantics of names has, nevertheless, coincided with a resurgence of some of the very puzzles that (...) motivated description theories of names in the first place, to wit: the informativeness of true identity statements of the form ‘a=b’ and the failure of substitutivity salve veritate for co-referential names in propositional attitude ascriptions. I argue that a Metalinguistic Description Theory of propernames, which treats the meaning of an arbitrary proper name as roughly equivalent to the definite description ‘the bearer of NN,’ offers a novel, semantically innocent solution to these puzzles when synthesized with Keith Donnellan’s (1966) insight that descriptions are semantically ambiguous between attributive and referential meanings. The ensuing account is then defended against two well-known Kripkean objections to metalinguisticsemantics: the Circularity Objection and the Paderewski Puzzle. (shrink)
An identity statement flanked on both sides with propernames is necessarily true, Saul Kripke thinks, if it's true at all. Thus, contrary to the received view – or at least what was, prior to Kripke, the received view – a statement like(A) Hesperus is Phosphorus.
There is evidence that children learn both propernames and count nouns from the outset of lexical development. Furthermore, children's first propernames are typically words for people, whereas their first count nouns are commonly terms for other objects, including artifacts. I argue that these facts represent a challenge for two well-known theoretical accounts of object word learning. I defend an alternative account, which credits young children with conceptual resources to acquire words for both individual objects (...) and object categories, and conceptual biases to construe some objects (notably people) as individuals in their own right and most other objects as instances of their category. (shrink)
Propernames play an important role in our understanding of linguistic ‘aboutness’ or reference. For instance, the name-bearer relation is a good candidate for the paradigm of the reference relation: it provides us with our initial grip on this relation and controls our thinking about it. For this and other reasons propernames have been at the center of philosophical attention. However, propernames are as controversial as they are conceptually fundamental. Since Kripke’s seminal (...) lectures Naming and Necessity the controversy about propernames has taken the form of a debate between two main camps, descriptivists and non-descriptivists like Kripke himself.The lectures were given in Princeton in 1970 and published in book form as Naming and Necessity .Descriptivists hold that there is a close connection between propernames and definite descriptions: the meaning or sense of a proper name can be given by a definite description. Th .. (shrink)
One of the two central suggestions put forth in Longobardi (1991, 1994) was that Romance/English differences in the syntax of propernames were parametrically connected to supposed differences in the semantics of bare (plural and mass) common nouns (BNs). The present article will pursue this line of investigation, trying to make precise such meaning differences and to understand the reason for their apparently surprising parametric association with the syntax of propernames.It will be shown that in (...) most Romance varieties BNs, unlike their English counterparts, distribute their existential and generic readings across all different contexts exactly like (Romance and English) overt indefinites. All the differences will be unified under the proposal that Romance BNs are nothing but a type of indefinites (variables, existentially or generically bound) in Kamp-Heim’s DRT sense, while English BNs are rather systematically ambiguous between this quantificational interpretation and a referential (i.e. directly kind-denoting, much in the spirit of Carlson 1977a, b) one, providing for another type of generic reading.The analysis will therefore crucially exploit and empirically support Gerstner and Krifka’s (1987) distinction between referential and quantificational genericity. On such grounds we will finally gain a conceptual understanding of the typological implication originally established in Longobardi (1991, 1994), thus confirming that the strategies of interpretation of nominals, whether proper or common nouns, are basically one and the same, though differently parametrized in different languages. This result, in turn, will shed some light on the question whether comparative semantics is possible and whether it can be singled out as a legitimate independent component of parametric theories of grammatical variation. (shrink)
This paper embeds a theory of propernames in a general approach to singular reference based on type‐free property theory. It is proposed that a proper name “N” is a sortal common noun whose meaning is essentially tied to the linguistic type “N”. Moreover, “N” can be singularly referring insofar as it is elliptical for a definite description of the form the “N” Following Montague, the meaning of a definite description is taken to be a property of (...) properties. The proposed theory fulfils the major desiderata stemming from Kripke's works on propernames. (shrink)
This paper presents arguments in defense of the hypothesis that general proprer names are impossible in the context of Stuart Mill's philosophy of language. My thesis is contrary to John Skorupski's position to this subject. I offer two arguments related, respectively, to two different perspectives: the pragmatic and the systematic. In the first one I analyze the problem of general propernames in the context of natural language. In the second one I discuss this problem in the (...) inner context of Mill's System of logic.O presente artigo apresenta argumentos em defesa da hipótese de que nomes próprios gerais são impossíveis no contexto da filosofia geral de Stuart Mill. Minha tese é contrária à posição de John Skorupski sobre esta questão. Ofereço dois argumentos que representam, respectivamente, duas diferentes perspectivas: pragmático e sistemático. No primeiro, analiso o problema dos nomes próprios gerais no contexto da linguagem natural. No segundo, discuto o problema no contexto interno do Sistema de Lógica de Mill. (shrink)
In the fourth-century Greek theologian Basil of Caesarea is found a discussion of the signification of propernames, which appears to pick up some points from earlier ideas about language. He undertakes an analysis of propernames in response to his theological opponents. I will argue that Basil presents a theory which in some respects anticipates modern description theories. Basil has an idea of the role of cognition in a theory of naming. (edited).
I argue that (a) the causal theory of propernames and (b) Kripke's chain of references thesis are logically independent of each other, and that the case for (a) is very weak. I observe that rejecting (a) we lose one powerful reason for treating propernames as rigid designators. I then consider reasons for subscribing to (b), and I argue that (b) is compatible with either a rigid or a non-rigid (descriptive) semantic treatment of proper (...)names. (shrink)
Recently, several philosophers of language have claimed that, at least in some respects, Peter Geach proposed a view about propernames that anticipated important features of the causal theory (or historical chain theory) that was later set forth by Saul Kripke and others. Quentin Smith, for example, in his essay, "Direct, Rigid Designation and A Posteriori Necessity: A History and Critique," says explicitly that "Geach (1969) ... originated the causal or 'historical chain' theory of names" (1999). In (...) his entry on "ProperNames" for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Graeme Forbes speaks of the "Geach-Kripke historical chain account" of propernames. In this paper, I suggest that, while there are very clear affinities between Geach's view on propernames and that of Kripke, there are several important differences, differences that are significant enough for me to claim that Geach and Kripke do not share a single account of propernames. (shrink)