This book is about whether reference to an individual is the essential feature of a proper name -- a widely held view -- or whether referring to an individual is simply a contingent feature. Three questions need resolving, then. First, whether all names in particular contexts are themselves referring devices. Second, whether recognizing names types and the consequent issue of their ambiguity can be resolved simply by distinguishing between name types and tokens thereof. Last, whether names are ever referential in (...) the way Kripke and others have convincingly argued. The answer to first two questions is negative. The answer to third is a qualified "yes." I explain the theory that allows for these answers in the manuscript, as well as addressing other issues such as: the problem of fictional names; descriptive names; empty names; what an act of naming consists of; an account of ontological commitment; and the data that suggests that names are predicates. (shrink)
In 'The Reference Book' (2012), Hawthorne and Manley observe the following contrast between (1) and (2): -/- (1) In every race John won. (2) In every race, the colt won. -/- The name 'John' in (1) must intuitively refer to the same single individual for each race. However, the description 'the colt' in (2) has a co-varying reading, i.e. a reading where for each race it refers to a different colt. This observation is a prima facie problem for proponents of (...) so-called The-Predicativism which is the view that the name in (1) is really a covert definite description, viz. 'the John'. If the The-Predicativism is correct, (1) and (2) are therefore syntactically equivalent, but this makes it mysterious why only (2) would have a co-varying reading. In a recent paper, Fara (2015) argues that there is a simple and elegant way for proponents of The-Predicativism to explain this contrast. This explanation relies on discerning some subtle syntactic differences between (1) and (2) which in turn are based on assumptions about nominal restrictions a la Stanley and Szabó (2000). In this short paper, I demonstrate that Fara's proposed explanation has a variety of serious shortcomings and hence that the contrast between (1) and (2) remains a significant problem for Predicativism. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to present and defend an inferentialist account of the meaning of fictional names on the basis of Sellars-Brandom’s inferentialist semantics and a Brandomian anaphoric theory of reference. On this inferentialist account, the meaning of a fictional name is constituted by the relevant language norms which provide the correctness conditions for its use. In addition, the Brandomian anaphoric theory of reference allows us to understand reference in terms of anaphoric word-word relations, rather than substantial word-world (...) relations. In this paper I argue that this inferentialist account has many important merits over its rival theories. One important merit is that it explains why we can use fictional names to make true statements, even if they lack bearers. As a consequence, this theory allows us to use fictional names without committing ourselves to an implausible ontology of fictional entities. Another important merit is that it provides a uniform semantic account of fictional names across different types of statements in which fictional names are involved. (shrink)
Making use of Kayne's (2005, 2010) theory of light nouns, this paper argues that light nouns are part of (simple) names and that a mass-count distinction among light nouns explains the behavior of certain types of names in German as mass rather than count. The paper elaborates the role of light nouns with new generalizations regarding their linguistic behavior in quantificational and pronominal NPs, their selection of relative pronouns in German, and a general difference in the support of plural anaphora (...) between English and German. (shrink)
Inferentialism is a theory in the philosophy of language which claims that the meanings of expressions are constituted by inferential roles or relations. Instead of a traditional model-theoretic semantics, it naturally lends itself to a proof-theoretic semantics, where meaning is understood in terms of inference rules with a proof system. Most work in proof-theoretic semantics has focused on logical constants, with comparatively little work on the semantics of non-logical vocabulary. Drawing on Robert Brandom’s notion of material inference and Greg Restall’s (...) bilateralist interpretation of the multiple conclusion sequent calculus, I present a proof-theoretic semantics for atomic sentences and their constituent names and predicates. The resulting system has several interesting features: (1) the rules are harmonious and stable; (2) the rules create a structure analogous to familiar model-theoretic semantics; and (3) the semantics is compositional, in that the rules for atomic sentences are determined by those for their constituent names and predicates. (shrink)
In Word and Object, Quine proposed that names be treated as the predicate elements of covert descriptions, expressing the property of being identical to the named individual. More recently, many theorists have proposed a predicativist view according which a referential name expresses the property of being called by that name. Whereas this Being-Called Predicativism has received much attention in the recent literature, Quinean Predicativism has not. This neglect is undeserved. In this paper, I argue, first, that close appositive constructions suggest (...) that names can function as predicates expressing identifying properties of the sort proposed by Quine, and, second, that a predicativist analysis which extends this view to referential names overcomes some of the central objections that have been raised against Being-Called Predicativism. (shrink)
Although the view that sees proper names as referential singular terms is widely considered orthodoxy, there is a growing popularity to the view that proper names are predicates. This is partly because the orthodoxy faces two anomalies that Predicativism can solve: on the one hand, proper names can have multiple bearers. But multiple bearerhood is a problem to the idea that proper names have just one individual as referent. On the other hand, as Burge noted, proper names can have predicative (...) uses. But the view that proper names are singular terms arguably does not have the resources to deal with Burge’s cases. In this paper I argue that the Predicate View of proper names is mistaken. I first argue against the syntactic evidence used to support the view and against the predicativist’s methodology of inferring a semantic account for proper names based on incomplete syntactic data. I also show that Predicativism can neither explain the behaviour of proper names in full generality, nor claim the fundamentality of predicative names. In developing my own view, however, I accept the insight that proper names in some sense express generality. Hence I propose that proper names—albeit fundamentally singular referential terms—express generality in two senses. First, by being used as predicates, since then they are true of many individuals; and second, by being referentially related to many individuals. I respond to the problem of multiple bearerhood by proposing that proper names are polyreferential, and also explain the behaviour of proper names in light of the wider phenomenon I called category change, and show how Polyreferentialism can account for all uses of proper names. (shrink)
Kripke (1980) hypothesizes a link between rigidity and scope: a singular term is rigid over a space S of possibilities just in case it is scopeless with respect to modals that quantify over S. Kripke’s hypothesis works well when we consider the interaction of singular terms with metaphysical modals, but runs into trouble when we consider the interaction of singular terms with epistemic modals. After describing the trouble in detail, and considering one non-solution to it, I develop a novel version (...) of dynamic semantics that resolves the problem. (shrink)
It is fairly widely accepted that Saul Kripke, Keith Donnellan, and others showed in the 1960s–1980s that proper names, in particular uses by speakers, can refer to things free of anything like the epistemic requirements posited by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. This paper separates two aspects of the Frege–Russell view of name reference: the metaphysical thesis that names in particular uses refer to things in virtue of speakers thinking of those things and the epistemic thesis that thinking of things (...) requires a means of determining which thing one is thinking of. My question is whether the Kripke–Donnellan challenge should lead us to reject,, or both. Contrary to a popular line of thinking that sees practices or conventions, rather than singular thinking, as determinative of linguistic reference, my answer is that we should reject only the epistemic thesis, not the metaphysical one. (shrink)
Статтю присвячено розглядові назв українських футбольних команд у діаспорі, починаючи з другої половини 40-х ХХ ст. Проаналізовано мотивованість цих номінацій та продемонстровано, як під впливом національних чинників, що були визначальними у виборі найменувань футбольних команд, збережено тяглість національних культурних традицій у назовництві футбольних клубів поза межами України.
The fact that names refer to individuals is a basic assumption of referentialist theories of proper names, but the notion of individual is systematically taken for granted in those theories. The present paper follows that basic assumption, but proposes to analyze the notion of individual prior to the development of any semantic theory of proper names. It will be argued that a particular perdurantist conception of individual should be adopted, which distinguishes the notions of individual occurrence, and individual simpliciter. A (...) new theory of proper names (called the cluster-occurrence theory) is presented, according to which names refer to individual occurrences, and the intension associated with a name is an individual simpliciter. The merits of the new theory are then assessed in confrontation with its standard rival accounts. (shrink)
Imogen Dickie develops an account of aboutness-fixing for thoughts about ordinary objects, and of reference-fixing for the singular terms we use to express them. Extant discussions of this topic tread a weary path through descriptivist proposals, causalist alternatives, and attempts to combine the most attractive elements of each. The account developed here is a new beginning. It starts with two basic principles, the first of which connects aboutness and truth, and the second of which connects truth and justification. These principles (...) combine to yield a third principle connecting aboutness and justification. Dickie uses the principle to explain how the relations to objects that enable us to think about them--perceptual attention; understanding of proper names; grasp of descriptions--do their aboutness-fixing and thought-enabling work. The book includes discussions of the nature of singular thought and the relation between thought and consciousness. (shrink)
Consider the following sentences: In every race, the colt won; In every race, John won.John Hawthorne and David Manley say that the difference between these two sentences raises a problem for Predicativism about names. According to the currently more standard version of Predicativism, a bare singular name in argument position, like ‘John’ in , is embedded in a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. The problem is supposed to be that permits a covarying reading that allows for different races (...) to have been won by different colts, while does not permit a covarying reading—it can be true only if there is a single John that won every race. But, the objection runs, if the name ‘John’ is really embedded in a definite description with an unpronounced definite article, then the two sentences are structurally parallel and should not differ with respect to covariation. Appealing to Jason Stanley's ‘Nominal Restriction’ , I show that the difference between the two sentences above not only does not raise a problem for Predicativism but also is actually predicted by it. (shrink)
This paper discusses critically a proposal by David Kaplan and others to ground reference in an antecedent having in mind and it examines the commitments of a conception of reference freed of cognition.
Almost entirely ignored in the linguistic theorising on names and descriptions is a hybrid form of expression which, like definite descriptions, begin with 'the' but which, like proper names, are capitalised and seem to lack descriptive content. These are expressions such as the following, 'the Holy Roman Empire', 'the Mississippi River', or 'the Space Needle'. Such capitalised descriptions are ubiquitous in natural language, but to which linguistic categories do they belong? Are they simply proper names? Or are they definite descriptions (...) with unique orthography? Or are they something else entirely? This paper assesses two obvious assimilation strategies: (i) assimilation to proper names and (ii) assimilation to definite descriptions. It is argued that both of these strategies face major difficulties. The primary goal is to lay the groundwork for a linguistic analysis of capitalised descriptions. Yet, the hope is that clearing the ground on capitalised descriptions may reveal useful insights for the on-going research into the semantics and syntax of their lower-case or 'the'-less relatives. (shrink)
In Naming and Necessity Kripke argues 'intuitively' that names are rigid. Unlike Kripke, Ben-Yami first introduces and justifies the Principle of the Independence of Reference (PIR), according to which the reference of a name is independent of what is said in the rest of the sentence containing it. Ben-Yami then derives rigidity, or something close to it, from the PIR. Additional aspects of the use of names and other expressions in modal contexts, explained by the PIR but not by the (...) rigidity claim, are then discussed. Ben-Yami next examines a difficulty in accepted definitions of rigidity, stemming from the fact that the same name can be used to name different particulars. This difficulty might force us to adopt a revised form of the rigidity claim. (shrink)
My responses to seven critical reviews of my book *Mental Files* published in a special issue of the journal Disputatio, edited by F. Salis. The reviewers are: Keith Hall, David Papineau, Annalisa Coliva and Delia Belleri, Peter Pagin, Thea Goodsell, Krista Lawlor and Manuel Garcia-Carpintero.
This paper challenges a popular thesis which we call the explanatory primitiveness thesis (for short, EPT), namely, the thesis that identities leave no logical space wherein explanatory questions may be formulated and explanatory gaps may reside. We argue that while EPT is, in all likelihood, flawless when the relevant domain consists of identity statements flanked by proper names of individuals it is a mistake to hold that the thesis generalizes to cover all identity statements. In particular, we argue that EPT (...) fails decisively with respect to an important class of identity statements, viz., those in which natural kinds are identified across different theoretical levels (i.e., the so-called inter-level type-identities). If correct, our result shows EPT to be much more limited in scope than is usually supposed. Moreover, and perhaps more significantly, it shows that there is no inherent absurdity in the idea that certain type-identity statements, in particular psychophysical type-identity statements, suffer from an explanatory gap. (shrink)
Counterfactual attitudes like imagining, dreaming, and wishing create a problem for the standard formal semantic theory of de re attitude ascriptions. I show how the problem can be avoided if we represent an agent's attitudinal possibilities using "multi-centered worlds", possible worlds with multiple distinguished individuals, each of which represents an individual with whom the agent is acquainted. I then present a compositional semantics for de re ascriptions according to which singular terms are "assignment-sensitive" expressions and attitude verbs are "assignment shifters".
This paper develops a new account of reference-fixing for proper names. 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 proper names refer should incorporate this claim. §II provides such an (...) account. (shrink)
In this paper I trace Quine's early development of his treatment of names, first as abbreviations for definite descriptions with "Frege-Rusell" style substantive content, then as abbreviations for definite descriptions containing simple predicative content, through to a treatment of names themselves as predicates rather than as abbreviations for this or that type of more complex expression. Along the way, I explain why—despite ubiquitous claims and suggestions to the contrary—Quine never actually uses the verbized name "Socratizes".
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)
On the basis of arguments put forth by (Kripke, 1977a) and (Kripke, 1980), it is widely held that one can sometimes rationally accept propositions of the form "P and not-P" and also that there are necessary a posteriori truths. We will find that Kripke's arguments for these views appear probative only so long as one fails to distinguish between semantics and presemantics—between the literal meanings of sentences, on the one hand, and the information on the basis of which one identifies (...) those literal meanings, on the other. This same failure, it will be argued, underlies the popular thesis that intersubstituting co-referring terms sometimes turns true sentences into false ones and vice versa. Though seemingly plausible, this thesis has a number of counterintuitive consequences, among them that the occurrence of “snow” in “it is true that snow is white” doesn’t refer to snow. An understanding of the distinction between semantics and presemantics suggests a way to develop a semantic system that doesn’t have these consequences and that, moreover, reconciles our intuitions concerning cognitive content with some powerfully argued theses of contemporary philosophy of language. Some of this paper's main contentions are anticipated by Andrzej Boguslawski in his 1994 paper “Sentential Complementation and Truth.”. (shrink)
This article (in German) develops the outlines of a Wittgensteinian philosophy of the proper name. It goes beyond standard analytical treatments of proper names as referential devices in asking what kind of role the proper name of a person has for that person's identity. Hence, proper names are discussed in their relations with the capacity of saying "I", with the capacity of addressing persons as persons (or saying "you"), and with the general role words play for a person's symbolic identity. (...) It is thereby made clear in which ways people's names can matter to themselves or to other people, and how this makes persons vulnerable to specific kinds of violence through words. (The article appeared in a collection on the topic of language and violence.). (shrink)
Charles Peirce's theory of proper names 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)
The paper is a reply to Leopold Hess' article "Proper Names - the Facts and the Myths". It is shown that the author misunderstood the issue of proper names and misconceived main ideas of the new theory of reference. The most important mistakes made by the author are: (i) considering the category of proper names in detachment from linguistic usage ;(ii) wrong reconstruction of the so-called modal argument and the notion of rigid designator; (iii) equivocating between two meanings of "a (...) priori". All those mistakes are carefully analysed. (shrink)
An exchange of letters among proper names and natural-kind terms, dealing with various identity and individuation problems (rigid designation, use-mention ambiguities, translation) from their point of view.
What are the conditions for fixing the reference of a proper name? Debate on this point has recently been rekindled by Scott Soames, Robin Jeshion, and others. In this paper, I sketch a new pragmatic approach to the justification of reference-fixing procedures, in opposition to accounts that insist on an invariant set of conditions for fixing reference across environments and linguistic communities. Comparing reference to other relations whose instances are introduced through "initiation" procedures, I outline a picture in which the (...) procedures that are successful for fixing the reference of proper names depend in part on regularities in the actual environment. (shrink)
This paper offers an interpretation of Plato's Cratylus 427d1-431c3 that supports a reading of the dialogue as a whole as concluding in favour of a conventionalist account of naming. While many previous interpretations note the value of this passage as evidence for Platonic investigations of false propositions, this paper argues that its demonstration that there can be false (or incorrect) naming in turn refutes the naturalist account of naming; that is, it shows that a natural relation between name and nominatum (...) is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for reference. Socrates secures this outcome by using demonstratives and their concomitants to show how any putative natural imitative link between name and object may be overridden. Furthermore, Socrates' employment of demonstratives and context-dependent statements in his case-studies of false naming speaks in favour of a reading of this passage as primarily focussing on naming rather than on propositions in general. (shrink)
This article explores the ethics of pseudonymous publication of nonfiction by examining what and why an author might hide behind the veil of pseudonymity, when this is and is not appropriate, and when it is deemed appropriate what measures should be taken to ensure accountability despite the veil. The argument begins by assuming that the sole duty an author has qua author is to his audience and centers on issues in both ethics and philosophy of language.
It is widely held that proper names are ambiguous in some sense, a view commonly associated with the theory that names are, when suitably idealized, semantically “rigid designators”. In this brief paper I suggest that, while some refinement of the concept of a name is surely appropriate, proper names do not very clearly meet the standards normally used to determine ambiguity. There is reason to regard shared names as semantically univocal, including some evidence from development linguistics to regard a grasp (...) of names as having a metalinguistic descriptive aspect. (shrink)
In focusing on indexicals and proper names and on the different ways in which their references are fixed, I illustrate how our linguistic practice rests on context, broadly construed. The following theses are discussed and defended: • There are two main kinds of information: (i) anchored information, i.e. the information one gathers in using and entertaining indexical expressions and (ii) unanchored information, i.e. the information one may gain in hearing a proper name. • Indexical expressions differ from proper names; this (...) difference relies on the differing ways in which extra‐linguistic context enters the scene. • The Kaplanian framework in particular, and the framework of direct reference in general, are best understood and appreciated against the background of a Wittgensteinian conception of language. (shrink)
Es gehört zu den sprachphilosophischen Gemeinplätzen, daß ein elementarer Satz aus zwei Teilausdrücken besteht – einem Nominator, mit dem wir einen Gegenstand der Rede spezifizieren, und einem Prädikator, mit dem wir dem so herausgegriffenen Gegenstand eine Eigenschaft zuschreiben können. Während der semantische Referentialist Nominatoren typischerweise als solche Ausdrücke definiert, die eine explizite Bezugnahme auf genau einen Gegenstand ermöglichen, wird der Vertreter einer pragmatischen Bedeutungstheorie umgekehrt versuchen, die ontologische Kategorie des Gegenstandes im Rückgriff auf den Begriff des singulären Terminus einzuführen. Hierzu (...) ist es zur Vermeidung eines Zirkels nötig, Nominatoren in einer rein lingualen Weise zu charakterisieren. Der Aufsatz setzt sich mit R. Brandoms Vorschlag auseinander, dem zufolge singuläre Termini solche substituierbaren Ausdrücke sind, die nur in symmetrischen Ersetzungsrelationen stehen. Es wird – vor allem anhand von "indefinite descriptions" – gezeigt, daß eine derartige inferentielle Symmetrie weder eine notwendige noch eine hinreichende Bedingung darstellt. (shrink)
It is generally accepted that Mill’s classification of names as nonconnotative terms is incompatible with Frege’s thesis that names have senses. However, Milldescribed the senses of nonconnotative terms—without being aware that he was doing so. These are the senses for names that were sought in vain by Frege. When Mill’s and Frege’s doctrines are understood as complementary, they constitute a fully satisfactory theory of names.
In order to represent legal knowledge adequately, it is vital to create a formal device that can freely construct an individual concept directly from a predicate expression. For this purpose, a Compound Predicate Formula (CPF) is formulated for use in legal expert systems. In this paper, we willattempt to explain the nature of CPFs by rigorous logical foundation, i.e., establishing their syntax and semantics precisely through the use of appropriate examples. We note the advantages of our system over other such (...) systems and discuss the significance of CPFs with regard to the formalization of legal reasonings using examples from the United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods. (shrink)
The standard response is illustrated by E, J. Lemmon's claim that if all objects in a given universe had names and there were only finitely many of them, then we could always replace a universal proposition about that universe by a complex proposition. It is because these two requirements are not always met that we need universal quantification. This paper is partly in agreement with Lemmon and partly in disagreement. From the point of view of syntax and semantics we can (...) replace a universal proposition about any universe (finite or infinite, countable or uncountable) by a complex proposition (= sentence built up from atomic sentences and the connectives). But from the point of view of communication such a replacement is not possible if the universe is infinite. (shrink)
Dummett defines a ‘predicate’ as that which combines with one or more singular terms to form a sentence. His account of ‘singular term’ is syntactical, involving three necessary conditions. He discusses a fourth, ‘Aristotelian’, criterion before propounding a criterion of predicate quantification which he claims to be superior to it. He tentatively proposes that the three necessary conditions plus the criterion of predicate quantification yield sufficient conditions for being a singular term. I show that Dummett’s necessary conditions fail with regard (...) to referentially opaque contexts, negative existentials and wide-scope negations, and that he overlooks an important class of predicative expressions that satisfy his three supposedly necessary conditions for singular terms, namely, those that may appear either as adjectives or as nouns. I argue that Dummett cannot use the ‘Aristotelian’ criterion without circularity; and that, in any case, the ‘Aristotelian’ criterion fails dramatically. I also show that his criterion of predicate quantification fails with regard to expressions for colours. I end by casting doubts on the adequacy of any purely syntactical approach. (shrink)
Recently, and rather startlingly, given the history of the debate about a name's semantic content, some claim that names are in fact predicates -- predicativism. Some of predicativists claim that a name's semantic content involves the concept of being called -- calling accounts that have been traditionally meta-linguistic. However, these accounts fail to be informative. Inspired by Burge's claim that proper names are literally true of the individuals that have them, Fara develops a non-meta-linguistic concept of being called analysed in (...) terms of property attributions. I offer seven separate reasons for rejecting the account, one of which is that Fara's development of the view, at least, has implausible consequences for a theory of name acquisition. I sketch an alternative account of name acquisition that is meta-linguistic in nature, but because it is not offered as a theory of name's content, the standard worries fail to apply. In fact, I argue that an account of name acquisition must be meta-linguistic, and therefore a more nuanced conception of meta-linguistic speech acts is required. The account invokes Austin's performative-constative distinction. It analyses name acquisition as due to performative meta-linguistic speech acts. (shrink)
Standard rigid designator accounts of a name’s meaning have trouble accommodating what I will call a descriptive name’s “shifty” character -- its tendency to shift its referent over time in response to a discovery that the conventional referent of that name does not satisfy the description with which that name was introduced. I offer a variant of Kripke’s historical semantic theory of how names function, a variant that can accommodate the character of descriptive names while maintaining rigidity for proper names. (...) A descriptive name’s shiftiness calls for a semantic account of names that makes their semantic values bipartite, containing both traditional semantic contents and what I call "modes of introduction." Both parts of a name's semantic value are derived from the way a name gets introduced into discourse -- from what I refer to as its "context of introduction." Making a name's semantic value bipartite in this way allows for a definite description to be a part of proper name's meaning without thereby sacrificing that name’s status as a rigid designator. On my view, a definite description is part of descriptive name’s mode of introduction. That is, it is part of what determines the content assigned to that name. As it turns out, making a definite description part of a descriptive name’s mode of introduction allows for that definite description to play the role of a mere reference-fixer regarding that name’s content, as Kripke would have it. However, my account allows a definite description to fix a descriptive name’s content actively over time, thereby explaining its inherent shiftiness. (shrink)
There are many examples offered as evidence that proper names are predicates. Not all of these cases speak to a name’s semantic content, but many of them do. Some of these include attributive, quantifier, and ambiguity cases. We will explore those cases here, and we will see that none of them conclusively show that names are predicates. In fact, all of these constructions can be given alternative analyses that eliminate the predicative characteristics of names they feature. These analyses do not (...) involve having names functioning as predicates in any way at all. In attributive cases, the names within them are to be understood as occurring in a comparative construction, not an attributive construction. In the last two sorts of cases, the names that occur are analyzed as part of a more complex referring device for a specific domain, rather than functioning as predicates. Both paraphrases can be given plausible semantic treatments that have significant advantages over their competitors. For this reason, there is less motivation to focus on predicative views of proper names. (shrink)