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Reference Without Referents

Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press UK (2005)

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  1. Semantic Verbs Are Intensional Transitives.Justin D’Ambrosio - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):213-248.
    In this paper I show that we have strong empirical and theoretical reasons to treat the verbs we use in our semantic theorizing—particularly ‘refers to ’, ‘applies to ’, and ‘is true of ’—as intensional transitive verbs. Stating our semantic theories with intensional vocabulary allows us to partially reconcile two competing approaches to the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian approach, on which semantics is non-relational, internalistic, and concerns the psychology of language users, and the Lewisian approach, on which (...)
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  • Quantificational Logic and Empty Names.Andrew Bacon - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    The result of combining classical quantificational logic with modal logic proves necessitism – the claim that necessarily everything is necessarily identical to something. This problem is reflected in the purely quantificational theory by theorems such as ∃x t=x; it is a theorem, for example, that something is identical to Timothy Williamson. The standard way to avoid these consequences is to weaken the theory of quantification to a certain kind of free logic. However, it has often been noted that in order (...)
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  • Conservative Meinongianism: An Actualist+ Ontology.T. Parent - manuscript
    [Draft substantially revised, September 2021] David Lewis acclimated us to talk of “nonactual concreta that exist,” regarding talking donkeys and the like. I shall argue that this was not for the best, and try to normalize a way of describing them as “actual concreta that do not exist.” The basis of this is a defense of the Meinongian thesis “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects,” re: fictitious and illusory objects. I first formulate (...)
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  • Counterfactuals as Strict Conditionals.Andrea Iacona - 2015 - Disputatio 7 (41):165-191.
    This paper defends the thesis that counterfactuals are strict conditionals. Its purpose is to show that there is a coherent view according to which counterfactuals are strict conditionals whose antecedent is stated elliptically. Section 1 introduces the view. Section 2 outlines a response to the main argument against the thesis that counterfactuals are strict conditionals. Section 3 compares the view with a proposal due to Aqvist, which may be regarded as its direct predecessor. Sections 4 and 5 explain how the (...)
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  • Truth in Fiction.Franck Lihoreau (ed.) - 2011 - Ontos Verlag.
    The essays collected in this volume are all concerned with the connection between fiction and truth. This question is of utmost importance to metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophical logic and epistemology, raising in each of these areas and at their intersections a large number of issues related to creation, existence, reference, identity, modality, belief, assertion, imagination, pretense, etc. All these topics and many more are addressed in this collection, which brings together original essays written from various points of view by (...)
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  • Puzzles About Descriptive Names.Edward Kanterian - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (4):409-428.
    This article explores Gareth Evans’s idea that there are such things as descriptive names, i.e. referring expressions introduced by a definite description which have, unlike ordinary names, a descriptive content. Several ignored semantic and modal aspects of this idea are spelled out, including a hitherto little explored notion of rigidity, super-rigidity. The claim that descriptive names are (rigidified) descriptions, or abbreviations thereof, is rejected. It is then shown that Evans’s theory leads to certain puzzles concerning the referential status of descriptive (...)
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  • Interpretation and Knowledge Maximization.Aidan McGlynn - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):391-405.
    Timothy Williamson has proposed that we should give a ‘knowledge first’ twist to David Lewis’s account of content, maintaining that for P to be the content of one’s belief is for P to be the content that would be attributed by an idealized interpreter working under certain constraints, and that the fundamental constraint on interpretation is a principle of knowledge maximization. According to this principle, an interpretation is correct to the extent that it maximizes the number of knowledgeable judgments the (...)
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  • States of Affairs.Thomas Wetzel - 2003 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • States of Affairs.Mark Textor - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Free Logic.John Nolt - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Depiction.John Hyman & Katerina Bantinaki - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Review of Dolf Rami’s ‘Names and Context: A Use-Sensitive Philosophical Account’. [REVIEW]Nikhil Mahant - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-5.
  • Ontological Commitment and Quantifiers.T. Parent - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & James Miller (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics. New York: Routledge.
    This is a slightly opinionated review of three main factions in metaontology: Quineans, Carnapians, and Meinongians. Emphasis is given to the last camp, as the metaontological aspect of Meinongianism has been underappreciated. The final section then offers some general remarks about the legitimacy of ontology, touching on ideas I have developed in other publications.
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  • Is Plural Denotation Collective?Alex Oliver & Timothy Smiley - 2008 - Analysis 68 (1):22–34.
  • Gravitas, Moral Efficacy and Social Causes.John Haldane - 2008 - Analysis 68 (1):34–39.
  • Minimal Fregeanism.Aidan Gray - 2022 - Mind 131 (522):429-458.
    Among the virtues of relationist approaches to Frege’s puzzle is that they put us in a position to outline structural features of the puzzle that were only implicit in earlier work. In particular, they allow us to frame questions about the relation between the explanatory roles of sense and sameness of sense. In this paper, I distinguish a number of positions about that relation which have not been clearly distinguished. This has a few pay-offs. It allows us to shed light (...)
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  • A New Framework for Conceptualism.John Bengson, Enrico Grube & Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):167 - 189.
    Conceptualism is the thesis that, for any perceptual experience E, (i) E has a Fregean proposition as its content and (ii) a subject of E must possess a concept for each item represented by E. We advance a framework within which conceptualism may be defended against its most serious objections (e.g., Richard Heck's argument from nonveridical experience). The framework is of independent interest for the philosophy of mind and epistemology given its implications for debates regarding transparency, relationalism and representationalism, demonstrative (...)
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  • Hallucinating Real Things.Steven P. James - 2014 - Synthese 191 (15):3711-3732.
    No particular dagger was the object of Macbeth’s hallucination of a dagger. In contrast, when he hallucinated his former comrade Banquo, Banquo himself was the object of the hallucination. Although philosophers have had much to say about the nature and philosophical import of hallucinations (e.g. Macpherson and Platchias, Hallucination, 2013) and object-involving attitudes (e.g. Jeshion, New essays on singular thought, 2010), their intersection has largely been neglected. Yet, object-involving hallucinations raise interesting questions about memory, perception, and the ways in which (...)
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  • Singular Thought.Tim Crane & Jody Azzouni - 2011 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):21-43.
    A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
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  • Cognitivism: A New Theory of Singular Thought?Sarah Sawyer - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (3):264-283.
    In a series of recent articles, Robin Jeshion has developed a theory of singular thought which she calls ‘cognitivism’. According to Jeshion, cognitivism offers a middle path between acquaintance theories—which she takes to impose too strong a requirement on singular thought, and semantic instrumentalism—which she takes to impose too weak a requirement. In this article, I raise a series of concerns about Jeshion's theory, and suggest that the relevant data can be accommodated by a version of acquaintance theory that distinguishes (...)
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  • Justice for Unicorns.Eliot Michaelson - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (3pt3):351-360.
    Many philosophers have suggested that metaethical scepticism is an inherently unstable position. Recently, Dworkin has offered an argument to this effect, claiming that (a) metaethical scepticism entails a set of first-order moral claims, and (b) this set of claims is internally inconsistent. The present essay shows why this argument fails. Along the way, it situates a plausible anti-realist semantics within the range of options for dealing with uncontroversially non-referring terms, like ‘unicorns’.
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  • The Analog-Digital Distinction Fails to Explain the Perception-Thought Distinction: An Alternative Account of the Format of Mental Representation.Piotr Kozak - 2021 - Studia Semiotyczne 35 (1):73-94.
    The format of mental representation is the way information is organized in the mind. The discussion surrounding the format of representation addresses the problem of what representational primitives are and the rules of information processing. In philosophy, the discussion is dominated by the distinction between analog and digital representational systems. It is thought that this distinction can bring us closer to an understanding of the nature of perceptual and discursive representations. I argue that the analog-digital distinction cannot meet that expectation. (...)
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  • A Hyperintensional Theory of (Empty) Names.Miloš Kosterec - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    This paper presents an original semantic theory of proper names that aims to cover both non-empty and empty proper names. According to the theory, proper names have simple assignable hyperintensions as their content. This content provides the referent for which the proper name stands. The paper further describes the role of the proposed content of proper names within the compositional semantics of problematic sentences. I stress the difference between the content of a sentence and the proposition denoted by that sentence.
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  • Singular Terms Revisited.Robert Schwartzkopff - 2016 - Synthese 193 (3).
    Neo-Fregeans take their argument for arithmetical realism to depend on the availability of certain, so-called broadly syntactic tests for whether a given expression functions as a singular term. The broadly syntactic tests proposed in the neo-Fregean tradition are the so-called inferential test and the Aristotelian test. If these tests are to subserve the neo-Fregean argument, they must be at least adequate, in the sense of correctly classifying paradigm cases of singular terms and non-singular terms. In this paper, I pursue two (...)
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  • The Same Name.Mark Sainsbury - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S2):195-214.
    When are two tokens of a name tokens of the same name? According to this paper, the answer is a matter of the historical connections between the tokens. For each name, there is a unique originating event, and subsequent tokens are tokens of that name only if they derive in an appropriate way from that originating event. The conditions for a token being a token of a given name are distinct from the conditions for preservation of the reference of a (...)
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  • Mind and Object. An Essay on Intentionality.Patrik Engisch - 2017 - Dissertation, Université de Fribourg
    Provides a certain conception of the target of a theory of intentionality in terms of five properties (aboutness, non-existence, aspectuality, generality, and semantic normativity) and provides a guided tour of how different styles of theories of intentionality can meet up these requirements.
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  • Object Individuation by Iconic Content: How is Numerosity Represented in Iconic Representation?Athanasios Raftopoulos - 2020 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 11 (1):42-70.
    : Fodor argues that perceptual representations are a subset of iconic representations, which are distinguished from symbolic/discursive representations. Iconic representations are nonconceptual and they do not support the abilities afforded by concepts. Iconic representations, for example, cannot support object individuation. If someone thinks that perception or some of its parts has imagistic NCC, they face the following dilemma. Either they will have to accept that this NCC does not allow for object individuation, but it represents instead conglomerations of properties and (...)
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  • A Very Large Fly in the Ointment: Davidsonian Truth Theory Contextualized.Mark Sainsbury - 2012 - In Richard Schantz (ed.), Prospects for Meaning.
    one hand, it raises fundamental doubts about the Davidsonian project, which seems to involve isolating specifically semantic knowledge from any other knowledge or skill in a way reflected by the ideal of homophony. Indexicality forces a departure from this ideal, and so from the aspiration of deriving the truth conditions of an arbitrary utterance on the basis simply of axioms which could hope to represent purely semantic knowledge. In defence of Davidson, I argue that once his original idea for dealing (...)
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  • What is the Problem of Non-Existence?Tim Crane - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (3):417-434.
    It is widely held that there is a problem of talking about or otherwise representing things that not exist. But what exactly is this problem? This paper presents a formulation of the problem in terms of the conflict between the fact that there are truths about non-existent things and the fact that truths must be answerable to reality, how things are. Given this, the problem of singular negative existential statements is no longer the central or most difficult aspect of the (...)
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  • Intentionality Without Exotica.Mark Sainsbury - 2010 - In Robin Jeshion (ed.), New Essays on Singular Thought. Oxford University Press.
  • Mental Files and Metafictive Utterances.Nicolás Lo Guercio - 2015 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 56 (132):541-555.
    ABSTRACT Metafictive utterances raise a kind of intuitions that pose a problem for a view that combines a referentialist approach to proper names with an antirealist stance on fictional characters. In this article I attempt to provide a solution to this problem within the framework of mental files. According to my position, metafictive utterances literally express an incomplete proposition while pragmatically conveying a complete one, which accounts for the intuitions of truthfulness. The proposition pragmatically conveyed is ‘metarepresentational', I'll argue, in (...)
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  • Representing Unicorns: How to Think About Intensionality.Mark Sainsbury - 2012 - In G. Currie, P. Kotatko & M. Pokorny (eds.), Mimesis: Metaphysics, Cognition, Pragmatics. College Publications.
    The paper focuses on two apparent paradoxes arising from our use of intensional verbs: first, their object can be something which does not exist, i.e. something which is nothing; second, the fact that entailment from a qualified to a non-qualified object is not guaranteed. In this paper, I suggest that the problems share a solution, insofar as they arise in connection with intensional verbs that ascribe mental states. The solution turns on (I) a properly intensional or nonrelational notion of representation (...)
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  • Fictional, Metafictional, Parafictional.François Recanati - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (1):25-54.
  • 'Of Course There Are Fictional Characters'.Mark Sainsbury - 2012 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 262 (4):615-40.
    There is no straightforward inference from there being fictional characters to any interesting form of realism. One reason is that “fictional” may be an intensional operator with wide scope, depriving the quantifier of its usual force. Another is that not all uses of “there are” are ontologically committing. A realist needs to show that neither of these phenomena are present in “There are fictional characters”. Other roads to realism run into difficulties when negotiating the role that presupposition plays when we (...)
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  • On the Supposed Connection Between Proper Names and Singular Thought.Rachel Goodman - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):197-223.
    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 (...)
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  • Pictures Have Propositional Content.Alex Grzankowski - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (1):151-163.
    Although philosophers of art and aesthetics regularly appeal to a notion of ‘pictorial content’, there is little agreement over its nature. The present paper argues that pictures have propositional contents. This conclusion is reached by considering a style of argument having to do with the phenomenon of negation intended to show that pictures must have some kind of non-propositional content. I first offer reasons for thinking that arguments of that type fail. Second, I show that when properly understood, such arguments (...)
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  • Cognitivism, Significance and Singular Thought.Rachel Goodman - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):236-260.
    This paper has a narrow and a broader target. The narrow target is a particular version of what I call the mental-files conception of singular thought, proposed by Robin Jeshion, and known as cognitivism. The broader target is the MFC in general. I give an argument against Jeshion's view, which gives us preliminary reason to reject the MFC more broadly. I argue Jeshion's theory of singular thought should be rejected because the central connection she makes between significance and singularity does (...)
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  • On Our Understanding of Singular Negative Existential Statements: A Defense of Shallow Pretense Theory.Poong Shil Lee - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (5):2133-2155.
    In uttering negative existential sentences, we do not mention but use an empty singular term. A pretense account explains the use in terms of pretense. I argue that our understanding of negative existential statements can be successfully explained by Crimmins’ theory of shallow pretense if it is supplemented and reconstructed properly. First, I explain the notion of shallow pretense and supplement Crimmin’s theory with an Evansian account that we immediately grasp the phenomenology of what is pretended without a conscious effort (...)
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  • Kripke’s Metalinguistic Apparatus and the Analysis of Definite Descriptions.Edward Kanterian - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (3):363-387.
    This article reconsiders Kripke’s ( 1977 , in: French, Uehling & Wettstein (eds) Contemporary perspectives in the philosophy of language, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis) pragmatic, univocal account of the attributive-referential distinction in terms of a metalinguistic apparatus consisting of semantic reference and speaker reference. It is argued that Kripke’s strongest methodological argument supporting the pragmatic account, the parallel applicability of the apparatus to both names and definite descriptions, is successful only if descriptions are treated as designators in both attributive (...)
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  • The Linguistic Approach to Ontology.Lee Walters - forthcoming - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
    What are the prospects for a linguistic approach to ontology? Given that it seems that there are true subject-predicate sentences containing empty names, traditional linguistic approaches to ontology appear to be flawed. I argue that in order to determine what there is we need to determine which sentences ascribe properties (and relations) to objects, and that there does not appear to be any formal criterion for this. This view is then committed to giving an account of what predicates do in (...)
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  • The Great Beetle Debate: A Study in Imagining with Names.Stacie Friend - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (2):183-211.
    Statements about fictional characters, such as “Gregor Samsa has been changed into a beetle,” pose the problem of how we can say something true (or false) using empty names. I propose an original solution to this problem that construes such utterances as reports of the “prescriptions to imagine” generated by works of fiction. In particular, I argue that we should construe these utterances as specifying, not what we are supposed to imagine—the propositional object of the imagining—but how we are supposed (...)
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  • The Problem of Nonexistence: Truthmaking or Semantics? Critical Notice of The Objects of Thought, by Tim Crane.Lee Walters - 2015 - Disputatio 7 (41):231-245.
    Tim Crane's The Objects of Thought is, I think, a much needed corrective to standard ways that analytic philosophers think about nonexistence. It starts from our common sense thought and talk, and tries to carve out a position that can defend this starting point in the face of criticism. It is well-written, a pleasure to read, and largely clear. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the problems of nonexistence. In §1 I sketch Crane's central ideas about the nonexistent, (...)
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  • Nomes Próprios: o princípio de Russell e o argumento semântico.Sagid Salles - 2020 - Prometeus: Filosofia em Revista 33: 231-255.
    I have two main goals in this paper. First, I develop a version of Theory of Identification for the reference of proper names, one which comes from Strawson and Evans. The theory is not developed in detail, but its central elements are revealed, focusing on its treatment of the phenomenon of reference borrowing. At the center of this theory is Russell’s Principle which, applied to the reference of proper names, states that the identification of the named object is a necessary (...)
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  • Against the Mental Files Conception of Singular Thought.Rachel Goodman - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (2):437-461.
    It has become popular of late to identify the phenomenon of thinking a singular thought with that of thinking with a mental file. Proponents of the mental files conception of singular thought claim that one thinks a singular thought about an object o iff one employs a mental file to think about o. I argue that this is false by arguing that there are what I call descriptive mental files, so some file-based thought is not singular thought. Descriptive mental files (...)
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  • Naming and Uncertainty: The Historical-Chain Theory Revised.Zsófia Zvolenszky - 2010 - Proceedings of the XXVth Varna International Philosophical School:132-141.
  • Sainsbury on Thinking About an Object.Tim Crane - 2008 - Critica 40 (120):85-95.
    R.M. Sainsbury's account of reference has many compelling and attractive features. But it has the undesirable consequence that sentences of the form "x is thinking about y" can never be true when y is replaced by a non-referring term. Of the two obvious ways to deal with this problem within Sainsbury's framework, I reject one and endorse the other. This endorsement is also within the spirit of Sainsbury's account of reference. /// La explicación que ofrece R.M. Sainsbury de la referencia (...)
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  • The Scope of the Truthmakers Requirement.Adam Lovett - 2014 - Romanian Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (2):23-39.
    Truths require truthmakers, many think. In this paper I will discuss the scope of this requirement. Truthmaker maximalism is the claim that, necessarily, all truths require truthmakers. I shall argue against this claim. I shall argue against it on the basis of its implications. I shall first consider its implications when applied to synthetic, contingent propositions. If the truthmaker requirement applies to these propositions, so I shall argue, it is not possible for there to be nothing, and it is not (...)
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  • No Reference Without Referents.Eduardo Garcia Ramírez - 2016 - Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 41 (2):211-226.
    Sainsbury 2005 and 2009 offers a theory of empty names that purports to account for the content and truth-value of all utterances involving them. The goal is to do this while offering a homogenous semantic treatment: both empty and nonempty names make the same kind of contribution to truth-values. The account is based on a new theory of reference that purports to be an alternative among nondescriptivist accounts. According to the new theory, there is reference even without referents. In this (...)
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  • Dissolving Yablo’s Hostage Crisis: In Defence of Defiance.Suki Finn - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (2):184-188.
    Yablo suggests a ‘hostage crisis’ occurs when an unproblematic statement ϕ entails, and is therefore hostage to, a problematic statement ψ. Yablo proposes a technical solution to this kind of problem by diminishing ϕ to ϕ*, where ϕ* does not entail ψ and thus is not hostage to it. I argue that Yablo’s proposal is unnecessary because the original, undiminished ϕ does not in fact entail ψ. This is what Yablo calls a ‘defiant’ position. I defend defiance by arguing that (...)
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  • The Use-Conditional Indexical Conception of Proper Names.Dolf Rami - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (1):119-150.
    In this essay I will defend a novel version of the indexical view on proper names. According to this version, proper names 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 (...)
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