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Names Are Predicates

Philosophical Review 124 (1):59-117 (2015)

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  1. The Semantic Foundations of Philosophical Analysis.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    I provide an analysis of sentences of the form ‘To be F is to be G’ in terms of exact truth-maker semantics—an approach that identifies the meanings of sentences with the states of the world directly responsible for their truth-values. Roughly, I argue that these sentences hold just in case that which makes something F is that which makes it G. This approach is hyperintensional, and possesses desirable logical and modal features. These sentences are reflexive, transitive and symmetric, and, if (...)
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  • Russellians Can Solve the Problem of Empty Names with Nonsingular Propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2018 - Synthese:1-23.
    Views that treat the contents of sentences as structured, Russellian propositions face a problem with empty names. It seems that those sorts of things cannot be the contents of sentences containing such names. I motivate and defend a solution to the problem according to which a sentence may have a singular proposition as its content at one time, and a nonsingular one at another. When the name is empty the content is a nonsingular Russellian structured proposition; when the name is (...)
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  • Acquaintance and First-Person Attitude Reports.Henry Ian Schiller - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):251-259.
    It is often assumed that singular thought requires that an agent be epistemically acquainted with the object the thought is about. However, it can sometimes truthfully be said of someone that they have a belief about an object, despite not being interestingly epistemically acquainted with that object. In defense of an epistemic acquaintance constraint on singular thought, it is thus often claimed that belief ascriptions are context sensitive and do not always track the contents of an agent’s mental states. This (...)
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  • On the Unification Argument for the Predicate View on Proper Names.Dolf Rami - 2014 - Synthese 191 (5):1-22.
    The predicate view on proper names opts for a uniform semantic representation of proper nouns like ‘Alfred’ as predicates on the level of logical form. Early defences of this view can be found in Sloat (Language, vol. 45, pp. 26–30, 1969) and Burge (J. Philos. 70: 425–439, 1973), but there is an increasing more recent interest in this view on proper names. My paper aims to provide a reconstruction and critique of Burge’s main argument for the predicate view on proper (...)
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  • Semantic with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - forthcoming - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This manuscript develops a framework for compositional semantics and begins illustrating its fruitfulness by applying it to a spectrum of core linguistic data, such as with quantifiers, attitude ascriptions, relative clauses, conditionals, and questions. A key innovation is to introduce variables for assignment functions into the syntax; semantic values are treated systematically in terms of sets of assignments, theoretically interpreted as representing possibilities. The framework provides an alternative to traditional “context- index”-style frameworks descending from Kamp/Kaplan/Lewis/Stalnaker. A principal feature of the (...)
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  • Names and Individuals.André Bazzoni - 2016 - In P. Stalmaszczyk & L. F. Moreno (eds.), Philosophical approaches to proper names. Peter Lang. pp. 123-146.
    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 (...)
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  • A Problem for Predicativism Not Solved by Predicativism.Anders J. Schoubye - forthcoming - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    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 (...)
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  • Names in Strange Places.Aidan Gray - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (5):429-472.
    This paper is about how to interpret and evaluate purported evidence for predicativism about proper names. I aim to point out some underappreciated thorny issues and to offer both predicativists and non-predicativists some advice about how best to pursue their respective projects. I hope to establish three related claims: that non-predicativists have to posit relatively exotic, though not entirely implausible, polysemic mechanisms to capture the range of data that predicativists have introduced ; that neither referentialism nor extant versions of predicativism (...)
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  • Lexical-Rule Predicativism About Names.Aidan Gray - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5549-5569.
    Predicativists hold that proper names have predicate-type semantic values. They face an obvious challenge: in many languages names normally occur as, what appear to be, grammatical arguments. The standard version of predicativism answers this challenge by positing an unpronounced determiner in bare occurrences. I argue that this is a mistake. Predicativists should draw a distinction between two kinds of semantic type—underived semantic type and derived semantic type. The predicativist thesis concerns the underived semantic type of proper names and underdetermines a (...)
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  • Being Called Names: Attributive Calling Accounts of Names.Heidi Savage - manuscript
    Historically, debates about the nature of proper names have been about whether we should treat them as devices of reference or as disguised definite descriptions. More recently, however, the debate centers around treating them as devices of reference or as predicates. There are different views about the nature of name-predicates. At least one version of predicativism relies on analyzing name-predicates as involving the concept of being called by a name – calling accounts. Some have offered meta-linguistic calling accounts of the (...)
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  • Frege’s Puzzle is About Identity After All.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Many philosophers have argued or taken for granted that Frege's puzzle has little or nothing to do with identity statements. I show that this is wrong, arguing that the puzzle can only be motivated relative to a thinker's beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the relevant object. The result is important, as it suggests that the puzzle can be solved, not by a semantic theory of names or referring expressions as such, but simply by a theory of identity statements. (...)
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  • Names, Identity, and Predication.Eros Corazza - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2631-2647.
    It is commonly accepted, after Frege, that identity statements like “Tully is Cicero” differ from statements like “Tully is Tully”. For the former, unlike the latter, are informative. One way to deal with the information problem is to postulate that the terms ‘Tully’ and ‘Cicero’ come equipped with different informative values. Another approach is to claim that statements like these are of the subject/predicate form. As such, they should be analyzed along the way we treat “Tully walks”. Since proper names (...)
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  • Counteridenticals.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2018 - The Philosophical Review 127 (3):323-369.
    A counteridentical is a counterfactual with an identity statement in the antecedent. While counteridenticals generally seem non-trivial, most semantic theories for counterfactuals, when combined with the necessity of identity and distinctness, attribute vacuous truth conditions to such counterfactuals. In light of this, one could try to save the orthodox theories either by appealing to pragmatics or by denying that the antecedents of alleged counteridenticals really contain identity claims. Or one could reject the orthodox theory of counterfactuals in favor of a (...)
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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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  • Representation Without Thought: Confusion, Reference, and Communication.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2015 - Dissertation, CUNY Graduate Center
    I develop and argue for a novel theory of the mental state of identity confusion. I also argue that this mental state can corrupt the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication. Finally, I propose a theory according to which identity confusion should be treated as a the source of a new sort of linguistic performance error, similar to malapropism, slips of the tongue, and so-called intentional obfuscation (inducing false belief by manipulating language in specific ways). -/- Going into (...)
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  • Positing Covert Variables and the Quantifier Theory of Tense.Matthew McKeever - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-22.
    ABSTRACTA crucial issue in the debate about the correct treatment of natural language tense concerns covert variables: do we have reason to think there are any in the syntax, as the quantifier theo...
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  • Type-Ambiguous Names.Anders J. Schoubye - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):715-767.
    The orthodox view of proper names, Millianism, provides a very simple and elegant explanation of the semantic contribution of referential uses of names–names that occur as bare singulars and as the argument of a predicate. However, one problem for Millianism is that it cannot explain the semantic contribution of predicative uses of names. In recent years, an alternative view, so-called the-predicativism, has become increasingly popular. According to the-predicativists, names are uniformly count nouns. This straightforwardly explains why names can be used (...)
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  • The Naked ‘Duchess’: Names Are Titles.Roberta Ballarin - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):349-379.
    In her recent defense of predicativism for proper names, Delia Graff Fara proposes the following non-metalinguistic being-called condition for the applicability of names as predicates: A name ‘N’ is true of a thing if and only if it is called N. The BCC is supposed to hold for names only. In this essay I criticize Fara’s BCC by arguing that the word ‘called’ is ambiguous, and that the BCC holds only for the particular sense of ‘calling’ as naming. I revise (...)
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  • Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Vol. 2. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.
    In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...)
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  • Indexicals and Names in Proverbs.Katarzyna Kijania-Placek - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 46 (1):59-78.
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  • Descriptions Which Have Grown Capital Letters.Brian Rabern - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (3):292-319.
    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 (...)
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  • 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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  • Katherine and the Katherine: On the Syntactic Distribution of Names and Count Nouns.Robin Jeshion - 2018 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 33 (3):473-508.
    Names are referring expressions and interact with the determiner system only exceptionally, in stark contrast with count nouns. The-predicativists like Sloat, Matushansky, and Fara claim otherwise, maintaining that syntactic data offers indicates that names belong to a special syntactic category which differs from common count nouns only in how they interact with ‘the’. I argue that the-predicativists have incorrectly discerned the syntactic facts. They have bypassed a large range of important syntactic data and misconstrued a critical data point on which (...)
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  • Cardinals, Ordinals, and the Prospects for a Fregean Foundation.Eric Snyder, Stewart Shapiro & Richard Samuels - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:77-107.
    There are multiple formal characterizations of the natural numbers available. Despite being inter-derivable, they plausibly codify different possible applications of the naturals – doing basic arithmetic, counting, and ordering – as well as different philosophical conceptions of those numbers: structuralist, cardinal, and ordinal. Some influential philosophers of mathematics have argued for a non-egalitarian attitude according to which one of those characterizations is ‘more basic’ or ‘more fundamental’ than the others. This paper addresses two related issues. First, we review some of (...)
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  • Linguistic Evidence Against Predicativism.Wolfram Hinzen - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (10):591-608.
    The view that proper names are uniformly predicates has recently gained prominence. I review linguistic evidence against it. Overall, the linguistic evidence suggests that proper names function as predicates when they appear in a grammatically predicative position and as referential expressions when they are grammatically in a referential position. Conceptual grounds on which the predicativist view might nonetheless be upheld include ‘uniformity’, i.e., that a single semantic value be lexically specified for names in all of their occurrences irrespective of differences (...)
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  • Names Are Not Predicates.Heidi Savage - manuscript
    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 (...)
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  • ‘The’ Problem for the-Predicativism.Robin Jeshion - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (2):219-240.
    Clarence Sloat, Ora Matushansky, and Delia Graff Fara advocate a Syntactic Rationale on behalf of predicativism, the view that names are predicates in all of their occurrences. Each argues that a set of surprising syntactic data compels us to recognize names as a special variety of count noun. This data set, they say, reveals that names’ interaction with the determiner system differs from that of common count nouns only with respect to the definite article ‘the’. They conclude that this special (...)
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  • On Being Called Something.Geoff Georgi - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (6):595-619.
    Building on recent work by Delia Graff Fara and Ora Matushansky on appellative constructions like ‘Mirka called Roger handsome’, I argue that if Millianism about proper names is true, then the quantifier ‘something’ in ‘Mirka called Roger something’ is best understood as a kind of substitutional quantifier. Any adequate semantics for such quantifiers must explain both the logical behavior of ‘Mirka called Roger something’ and the acceptability of ‘so’-anaphora in ‘Mirka called Roger something, and everyone so called is handsome’. Millianism (...)
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  • Serious Actualism and Higher-Order Predication.Bruno Jacinto - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 48 (3):471-499.
    Serious actualism is the prima facie plausible thesis that things couldn’t have been related while being nothing. The thesis plays an important role in a number of arguments in metaphysics, e.g., in Plantinga’s argument for the claim that propositions do not ontologically depend on the things that they are about and in Williamson’s argument for the claim that he, Williamson, is necessarily something. Salmon has put forward that which is, arguably, the most pressing challenge to serious actualists. Salmon’s objection is (...)
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  • On Reference. [REVIEW]Lukas Skiba - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):160-171.
    ‘On Reference’ is a collection of 18 original articles. While united in their concern with reference, they deal with a large variety of topics, ranging from questions concerning the nature of reference, through the interaction of reference and cognition, to more specific questions about the semantics of particular referring expressions. The contributions are of high quality: thought provoking, insightful and engagingly written. Many have the potential to substantially advance the debate in their field.
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  • Character, Proper Names, and Frege's Puzzle.Filipe Martone - 2016 - Filosofia Unisinos 17 (1):75-80.
    Kaplan’s solution to the indexical version of Frege’s Puzzle in terms of the character of linguistic expressions has been greatly influential and much discussed. Many philosophers regard it as being correct, or at least as being on the right track. However, little has been said about how character is supposed to apply to proper names, and how it could account for the name version of the Puzzle. In this paper I want to fill this gap. I sketch some solutions to (...)
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  • Book Review: De Ponte, Maria & Korta, Kepa . Reference and Representation in Thought and Language. [REVIEW]Filipe Martone - 2018 - Manuscrito 41 (2):123-136.
    ABSTRACT In this review, I try to present and discuss the main elements of each chapter of the book as briefly and instructively as possible. The first group of chapters deals with various issues about language, and the second group focuses on thought.
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  • Speaker’s Reference, Semantic Reference, and Intuition.Richard Heck - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):251-269.
    Some years ago, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich reported the results of experiments that reveal, they claim, cross-cultural differences in speaker’s ‘intuitions’ about Kripke’s famous Gödel–Schmidt case. Several authors have suggested, however, that the question they asked their subjects is ambiguous between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. Machery and colleagues have since made a number of replies. It is argued here that these are ineffective. The larger lesson, however, concerns the role that first-order philosophy should, and more importantly should not, (...)
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  • A Problem for Predicativism Solved by Predicativism.Delia Graff Fara - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):362-370.
    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 (...)
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  • Predicates, Parts, and Impermanence: A Contemporary Version of Some Central Buddhist Tenets.Matthew Mckeever - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (4):475-488.
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  • Definiteness and Determinacy.Elizabeth Coppock & David Beaver - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (5):377-435.
    This paper distinguishes between definiteness and determinacy. Definiteness is seen as a morphological category which, in English, marks a uniqueness presupposition, while determinacy consists in denoting an individual. Definite descriptions are argued to be fundamentally predicative, presupposing uniqueness but not existence, and to acquire existential import through general type-shifting operations that apply not only to definites, but also indefinites and possessives. Through these shifts, argumental definite descriptions may become either determinate or indeterminate. The latter option is observed in examples like (...)
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  • Against Rigidity for Natural Kind Terms.Stephen P. Schwartz - forthcoming - Synthese:1-15.
    Rigid expressionism is the view that all natural kind terms and many other kind terms are rigid designators. Rigid expressionists embrace the ‘overgeneralization’ of rigidity, since they hold that not just natural kind terms but all unstructured kind terms are rigid designators. Unfortunately overgeneralization remains a defeating problem for rigid expressionism. It runs together natural kind terms and nominal kind terms in a way that enforces a false semantic uniformity. The Kripke/Putnam view of natural kind terms minus the claim of (...)
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  • The Predicate View of Proper Names.Kent Bach - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (11):772-784.
    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 (...)
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  • In Defense of the Unification Argument for Predicativism.Sajed Tayebi - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (5):557-576.
    The unification argument, usually regarded as the main argument for predicativism about proper names, has recently been attacked by Robin Jeshion. According to Jeshion, the unification argument is based on the assumption of the literality of predicative uses of proper names in statements such as “There is one Alfred in Princeton.” In such a use, a proper name ‘N’ is used predicatively to denote those, and only those, objects called N. As Jeshion argues, however, there are many other examples in (...)
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  • Referentialism and Predicativism About Proper Names.Robin Jeshion - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S2):363-404.
    Overview The debate over the semantics of proper names has, of late, heated up, focusing on the relative merits of referentialism and predicativism. Referentialists maintain that the semantic function of proper names 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, (...)
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  • Minimal Descriptivism.Aidan Gray - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (2):343-364.
    Call an account of names satisfactionalist if it holds that object o is the referent of name a in virtue of o’s satisfaction of a descriptive condition associated with a. Call an account of names minimally descriptivistif it holds that if a competent speaker finds ‘a=b’ to be informative, then she must associate some information with ‘a’ which she does not associate with ‘b’. The rejection of both positions is part of the Kripkean orthodoxy, and is also built into extant (...)
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  • Against Predicativism About Names.Jeonggyu Lee - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    According to predicativism about names, names which occur in argument positions have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. In this paper, I shall argue that these bare singular names do not have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. I will present three objections to predicativism—the modal, the epistemic, and the translation objections—and show that they succeed even against the more sophisticated versions of predicativism defended by Fara and Bach.
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  • The Predicative Predicament.Anders J. Schoubye - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:571-595.
    The-Predicativism is the view that names are count nouns. For example, the meaning of the name ‘Louise’ is roughly the property of being called Louise. Moreover, proponents of this view maintain that names that are ostensibly in argument position of a predicate are covert definite descriptions. In recent years, The-Predicativism has acquired a number of new supporters, mainly Elbourne (), Matushansky (), and Fara (). And while it was pointed out by Kripke () that these kinds of views generally struggle (...)
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  • Lexical Individuation and Predicativism About Names.Aidan Gray - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):113-123.
    Predicativism about names—the view that names are metalinguistic predicates—has yet to confront a foundational issue: how are names represented in the lexicon? I provide a positive characterization of the structure of the lexicon from the point of view Predicativism. I proceed to raise a problem for Predicativism on the basis of that characterization, focusing on cases in which individuals have names which are spelled the same way but pronounced differently. Finally, I introduce two potential strategies for solving the problem, and (...)
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