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)
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)
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)
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)
Stefano Predelli defends a semantics of propernames which has simplicity and common sense in its favour: propernames are non-indexical devices of rigid and direct reference. He grounds this view in accounts of the shape and form of names, and of their introduction within language use, and he responds to widespread misconceptions and objections.
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)
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)
The question of transtemporal identity of objects in general and persons in particular is an important issue in both philosophy and psychology. While the focus of philosophers traditionally was on questions of the nature of identity relation and criteria that allow to settle ontological issues about identity, psychologists are mostly concerned with how people think about identity, and how they track identity of objects and people through time. In this article, we critically engage with widespread use of inferring folk judgments (...) of identity from study participants’ use of propernames in response to experimental vignettes. We provide reasons to doubt that using this method one can reliably infer judgments of numerical identity over time and transformations. We also critically examine allegedly-Kripkean justification of this method and find it lacking. Merely assuming that names are rigid designators will not help. A study participant’s use of propernames can be taken to track the participant’s identity judgments only if supported by the participant’s belief that names used in the scenario are used rigidly. (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)
The article deals with the problem of coining terms and nomenclature signs with propernames illustrated by the example of the English language legal terminology. The article begins with the discussion of the problems of intersection of two linguistic areas and differentiation between terms and nomenclature signs. It is observed that linguistic units with propernames possess a cultural specificity in the legal English as compared to the Russian terminological system of law. Linguistic and extra-linguistic factors (...) influencing language units’ formation with the help of propernames in legal English, their structural and semantic specificity are revealed. The latter is considered from the point of view of the two-level semantics of language signs. The authors come to the following conclusions: structural variability of the units under consideration especially strongly manifest in formation of legal nomenclature; systemic linguistic oppositions of terms and nomenclature signs with propernames determine the semantics of these units; the basis of the meaning of a term and a nomenclature sign is a notion, its essential components being included into the definitions; differential semes of the meanings are assigned to the proper name elements of terms; all semes of nomenclature signs with propernames constitute an inseparable whole and are not assigned to any specific elements of these units; the meanings of nomenclature signs with propernames specify those of the terms in the hierarchical structure of the terminological system and in particular legal situations. (shrink)
Combining elements from Heidegger’s philosophy of “being-in-the-world” and the tradition of Jewish theology, Levinas has evolved a new type of ethics based on a concept of “the Other” in two different but complementary aspects. He describes his encounters with those philosophers and literary authors (most of them his contemporaries) whose writings have most significantly contributed to the construction of his own philosophy of “Otherness”: Agnon, Buber, Celan, Delhomme, Derrida, Jabès, Kierkegaard, Lacroix, Laporte, Picard, Proust, Van Breda, Wahl, and, most notably, (...) Blanchot. At the same time, Levinas’s own texts are inscriptions and documents of those encounters with “Others” around which his philosophy is turning. Thus the texts simultaneously convey an immediate experience of how his intellectual position emerged and how it is put into practice. A third potential function of the book is that it unfolds the network of references and persons in philosophical debates since Kierkegaard. (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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Although the view that sees propernames as referential singular terms is widely considered orthodoxy, there is a growing popularity to the view that propernames are predicates. This is partly because the orthodoxy faces two anomalies that Predicativism can solve: on the one hand, propernames can have multiple bearers. But multiple bearerhood is a problem to the idea that propernames have just one individual as referent. On the other hand, (...) as Burge noted, propernames can have predicative uses. But the view that propernames 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 propernames 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 propernames based on incomplete syntactic data. I also show that Predicativism can neither explain the behaviour of propernames in full generality, nor claim the fundamentality of predicative names. In developing my own view, however, I accept the insight that propernames in some sense express generality. Hence I propose that propernames—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 propernames are polyreferential, and also explain the behaviour of propernames in light of the wider phenomenon I called category change, and show how Polyreferentialism can account for all uses of propernames. (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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
Gareth Evans adduces a case in which a proper name apparently undergoes a change in referent. ‘Madagascar’ was originally the name of a part of Africa. Marco Polo, erroneously thinking he was following native usage, applied the name to an island off the African coast. Today ‘Madagascar’ is the name of that island. Evans argues that this kind of case threatens Kripke ’s picture of naming as developed in Naming and Necessity. According to this picture, the name, as used (...) by Marco Polo, referred to a part of the African mainland, since he was connected to the latter by a historical chain of communication. Since we are historically connected to Marco Polo, the name, as it is used today, still refers to the African mainland. But it doesn’t. The aim of the present paper is to give a conclusive account of the phenomenon adduced by Evans, which is compatible with Kripke ’s picture. (shrink)
Hurford claims that empty variables antedated propernames in linguistic (not merely logical) predicate-argument structure, and this had an effect on visual perception. But his evidence, drawn from propernames and the supposed inability of nonhumans to recognise individual conspecifics, is weak. So visual perception seems less relevant to the evolution of grammar than Hurford thinks.
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)
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)