Gottlob Frege maintained that two name-containing identity sentences, represented schematically as a=a and a=b,can both be true in virtue of the same object’s self-identity but nonetheless, puzzlingly, differ in their epistemic profiles. Frege eventually resolved his puzzlement by locating the source of the purported epistemic difference between the identity sentences in a difference in the Sinne, or senses, expressed by the names that the sentences contain. -/- Thus, Frege portrayed himself as describing a puzzle that can be posed prior to (...) and independently of any particular theoretical position regarding names, and then resolving that puzzle with his theory of Sinn and Bedeutung. In this paper, I suggest that Frege’s presentation is problematic. If attempt is made to characterize the epistemic status of true identity sentences without appeal to Frege’s theoretical commitments, then what initially seemed puzzling largely dissolves. It turns out that, in order to generate puzzlement, Frege must invoke the theoretical account that he uses the puzzle to establish the purported necessity of. (shrink)
In this paper, I highlight some important implications of a non-individualistic account of derogatory words. I do so by critically examining an intriguing claim of Jennifer Hornsby‘s: that derogatory words – words that, as she puts it, ―apply to people, and that are commonly understood to convey hatred and contempt‖ – are useless for us. In their stead, she maintains, we employ neutral counterparts: words ―that apply to the same people, but whose uses do not convey these things. I argue (...) that Hornsby‘s distinctions – between derogatory words and neutral counterparts, and them (speakers who have use for the former) and us (who do not) – is not sustainable. I begin by considering examples that suggest that some of the words that some of us have use for are indeed derogatory. I then offer reasons for thinking that words that would presumably be identified as acceptable counterparts to derogatory words are not, in general, neutral. (shrink)
Fiction is often characterized by way of a contrast with truth, as, for example, in the familiar couplet “Truth is always strange/ Stranger than fiction" (Byron 1824). And yet, those who would maintain that “we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology” (Chomsky 1988: 159) hold that some truth is best encountered via fiction. The scrupulous novelist points out that her work depicts no actual person, either living or dead; nonetheless, we (...) use names from fiction in ways that suggest that we take these names to refer. Philosophers who investigate fiction aim to reconcile such apparently incompatible phenomena, and, in general, to account for the myriad ways that we talk, think, and feel about fiction. (shrink)
Direct reference theorists tell us that proper names 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)
The central question that I address in this dissertation is: how should we explain our connection with the language that we use? I show that the way that one answers the question depends upon the characterization that one gives of the nature of language. ;I argue that philosophers of language who theorize about words as in-the-world entities with a history have largely failed to explain how we use such words. To fill in this gap, I offer a positive account of (...) the cognitive value of language. In particular, I argue that cognitive value must be for a user, and that it allows for the explanation of how distinct individuals use a language held in common. (shrink)
According to Scott Soames, proper names have no descriptive meaning. Nonetheless, Soames maintains that proper names are typically used to make descriptive assertions. In this paper, I challenge Soames’ division between meaning and what is asserted, first by arguing that competent speakers always make descriptive assertions with name-containing sentences, and then by defending an account of proper name meaning that accommodates this fact.