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Names Are Predicates

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

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  1. Interpreting plural predication: homogeneity and non-maximality.Manuel Križ & Benjamin Spector - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (5):1131-1178.
    Plural definite descriptions across many languages display two well-known properties. First, they can give rise to so-called non-maximal readings, in the sense that they ‘allow for exceptions’. Second, while they tend to have a quasi-universal quantificational force in affirmative sentences, they tend to be interpreted existentially in the scope of negation. Building on previous works, we offer a theory in which sentences containing plural definite expressions trigger a family of possible interpretations, and where general principles of language use account for (...)
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  • On the Asymmetry Between Names and Count Nouns: Syntactic Arguments Against Predicativism.Junhyo Lee - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (3):277-301.
    The standard versions of predicativism are committed to the following two theses: proper names are count nouns in all their occurrences, and names do not refer to objects but express name-bearing properties. The main motivation for predicativism is to provide a uniform explanation of referential names and predicative names. According to predicativism, predicative names are fundamental and referential names are explained by appealing to a null determiner functioning like “the” or “that.” This paper has two goals. The first is to (...)
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  • Common Nouns as Modally Non-Rigid Restricted Variables.Peter Lasersohn - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2):363-424.
    I argue that common nouns should be analyzed as variables, rather than as predicates which take variables as arguments. This necessitates several unusual features to the analysis, such as allowing variables to be modally non-rigid, and assigning their values compositionally. However, treating common nouns as variables offers a variety of theoretical and empirical advantages over a more traditional analysis: It predicts the conservativity of nominal quantification, simplifies the analysis of articleless languages, derives the weak reading of sentences with donkey anaphora, (...)
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  • Quinean predicativism.Michael Rieppel - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (1):23-44.
    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 (...)
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  • In Defense of Donnellan on Proper Names.Antonio Capuano - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1289-1312.
    Kripke’s picture of how people use names to refer to things has been the dominant view in contemporary philosophy of language. When it is mentioned at all, Donnellan’s view of proper names is considered the same as Kripke’s. It is certainly true that both Donnellan and Kripke rejected descriptivism about proper names and appealed to historical facts to determine whom a speaker is referring to by using a proper name. However, the relevant historical facts Kripke and Donnellan appeal to are (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Difference Between Indexicals and Demonstratives.Alexandru Radulescu - 2018 - Synthese 195 (7):3173-3196.
    In this paper, I propose a new way to distinguish between indexicals, like “I” and “today”, and demonstratives, like “she” and “this”. The main test case is the second person singular pronoun “you”. The tradition would generally count it as a demonstrative, because the speaker’s intentions play a role in providing it with a semantic value. I present cross-linguistic data and explanations offered of the data in typology and semantics to show that “you” belongs on the indexical side, and argue (...)
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  • Can Minimalism About Truth Embrace Polysemy?Katarzyna Kijania-Placek - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):955-985.
    Paul Horwich is aware of the fact that his theory as stated in his works is directly applicable only to a language in which a word, understood as a syntactic type, is connected with exactly one literal meaning. Yet he claims that the theory is expandable to include homonymy and indexicality and thus may be considered as applicable to natural language. My concern in this paper is with yet another kind of ambiguity—systematic polysemy—that assigns multiple meanings to one linguistic type. (...)
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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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  • Semantics Without Semantic Content.Daniel W. Harris - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    I argue that semantics is the study of the proprietary database of a centrally inaccessible and informationally encapsulated input–output system. This system’s role is to encode and decode partial and defeasible evidence of what speakers are saying. Since information about nonlinguistic context is therefore outside the purview of semantic processing, a sentence’s semantic value is not its content but a partial and defeasible constraint on what it can be used to say. I show how to translate this thesis into a (...)
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  • The Mill-Frege Theory of Proper Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2018 - Mind 127 (508):1107-1168.
    This paper argues for a version of metalinguistic descriptivism, the Mill-Frege view, comparing it to a currently popular alternative, predicativism. The Mill-Frege view combines tenets of Fregean views with features of the theory of direct reference. According to it, proper names have metalinguistic senses, known by competent speakers on the basis of their competence, which figure in ancillary presuppositions. In support of the view the paper argues that the name-bearing relation—which predicativists cite to account for the properties that they take (...)
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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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  • Philosophical Investigation Series: Selected Texts on Metaphysics, Language and Mind / Série Investigação Filosófica: Textos Selecionados de Metafísica, Linguagem e Mente.Rodrigo Cid & Pedro Merlussi (eds.) - 2020 - Pelotas: Editora da UFPel / NEPFIL Online.
    Um dos grandes desafios da era da informação consiste em filtrar informações claras, rigorosas e atualizadas sobre tópicos importantes. O mesmo vale para a filosofia. Como encontrar conteúdo filosófico confiável em meio a milhares de artigos publicados diariamente na internet? Para ir ainda mais longe, como encontrar uma introdução a algum tópico com uma lista de referências bibliográficas atualizadas e que seja organizada por um especialista da área? Já que você começou a ler este livro, é provável que tenha ouvido (...)
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  • Semantics with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This book combines insights from philosophy and linguistics to develop a novel framework for theorizing about linguistic meaning and the role of context in interpretation. A key innovation is to introduce explicit representations of context — assignment variables — in the syntax and semantics of natural language. The proposed theory systematizes a spectrum of “shifting” phenomena in which the context relevant for interpreting certain expressions depends on features of the linguistic environment. Central applications include local and nonlocal contextual dependencies with (...)
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  • The Importance of Being Ernesto: Reference, Truth and Logical Form.A. Bianchi, V. Morato & G. Spolaore (eds.) - 2016 - Padova: Padova University Press.
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  • Names Are Variables.Anders J. Schoubye - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (1):53-94.
    MILLIANISM and DESCRIPTIVISM are without question the two most prominent views with respect to the semantics of proper names. However, debates between MILLIANS and DESCRIPTIVISTS have tended to focus on a fairly narrow set of linguistic data and an equally narrow set of problems, mainly how to solve with Frege's puzzle and how to guarantee rigidity. In this article, the author focuses on a set of data that has been given less attention in these debates—namely, so-called predicative uses, bound uses, (...)
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  • The Predicative Predicament.Anders J. Schoubye - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):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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  • Positing Covert Variables and the Quantifier Theory of Tense.Matthew McKeever - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (5-6):624-645.
    ABSTRACT A 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 theorist maintains? If not, it seems we can quickly discount the quantifier theory from consideration, without even considering the data in its favour. And, indeed, there is a good reason to doubt that there are such variables: contemporary syntactic theory, notably, does not seem to posit them. I (...)
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  • Against Rigidity for Natural Kind Terms.Stephen P. Schwartz - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 12):2957-2971.
    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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  • 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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  • Between Singularity and Generality: The Semantic Life of Proper Names.Laura Delgado - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):381-417.
    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 (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Meaning Transfer Revisited.David Liebesman & Ofra Magidor - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):254-297.
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  • Against Predicativism About Names.Jeonggyu Lee - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (1):243-261.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The “Cicero”/“Cicero” Puzzling Case.Paolo Bonardi - 2021 - Theoria 87 (3):628-642.
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  • Disquotation, Translation, and Context-Dependence.Richard Kimberly Heck - manuscript
    It has been known for some time that context-dependence poses a problem for disquotationalism, but the problem has largely been regarded as one of detail: one that will be solved by the right sort of cleverness. I argue here that the problem is one of principle and that extant solutions, which are based upon the notion of translation, cannot succeed.
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  • A Time Traveler’s Note on Proper Names and Definite Descriptions.Xinyuan Gu - manuscript
    This essay aims to coherently introduce a four-dimensional view adapting to the three-spatial-plus-one- temporal-dimensions (3+1) physical world. To orient the discussions, the essay presents several central claims. First, the only description a proper name abbreviates is that of being called, yet a proper name is capable of bringing up the entire object from its birth to its end. Second, there is a crucial difference in the behaviors of proper names and definite descriptions. Third, a co-knowing state may be decisive in (...)
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  • 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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  • Deferred Reference of Proper Names.Katarzyna Kijania-Placek & Paweł Banaś - 2021 - Journal of Semantics 38 (2):195-219.
    In this paper, we argue that proper names have deferred uses. Following Geoffrey Nunberg, we describe the deferred reference mechanism by which a linguistic expression refers to something in the world by exploiting a contextually salient relation between an index and the referent in question. Nunberg offered a thorough analysis of deferred uses of indexicals but claimed that proper names do not permit such uses. We, however, offer a number of examples of uses of proper names which pass grammatical tests (...)
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  • Speaker's Reference, Semantic Reference, Sneaky Reference.Eliot Michaelson - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    According to what is perhaps the dominant picture of reference, what a referential term refers to in a context is determined by what the speaker intends for her audience to identify as the referent. I argue that this sort of broadly Gricean view entails, counterintuitively, that it is impossible to knowingly use referential terms in ways that one expects or intends to be misunderstood. Then I sketch an alternative which can better account for such opaque uses of language, or what (...)
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  • Rigid Designators.Joseph LaPorte - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Indexicals and Names in Proverbs.Katarzyna Kijania-Placek - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 46 (1):59-78.
    This paper offers an analysis of indexical expressions and proper names as they are used in proverbs. Both indexicals and proper names contribute properties rather than objects to the propositions expressed when they are used in sentences interpreted as proverbs. According to the proposal, their contribution is accounted for by the mechanism of descriptive anaphora. Indexicals with rich linguistic meaning, such as ‘I’, ‘you’ or ‘today’, turn out to be cases of the attributive uses of indexicals, i.e. uses whose contribution (...)
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  • A Russellian Analysis of Buddhist Catuskoti.Nicholaos Jones - 2020 - Comparative Philosophy 11 (2):63-89.
    Names name, but there are no individuals who are named by names. This is the key to an elegant and ideologically parsimonious strategy for analyzing the Buddhist catuṣkoṭi. The strategy is ideologically parsimonious, because it appeals to no analytic resources beyond those of standard predicate logic. The strategy is elegant, because it is, in effect, an application of Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions to Buddhist contexts. The strategy imposes some minor adjustments upon Russell's theory. Attention to familiar catuṣkoṭi from (...)
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  • Russellians Can Solve the Problem of Empty Names with Nonsingular Propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2020 - Synthese 197:5411–5433.
    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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  • Why the Predicativist Calling Account Fails: Names Can Never Hurt You.Heidi Savage - manuscript
    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 (...)
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  • Referencing Proper Names: Complementing the Analytic with the Phenomenological Approach.Arturo Leyva - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):75.
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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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  • Critical Notice of 'On Reference' by Andrea Bianchi (Ed.).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. In this critical notice I will do (...)
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  • "That"-Clauses and Propositional Anaphors.Peter van Elswyk - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):2861-2875.
    This paper argues that "that"-clauses do not reference propositions because they are not intersubstitutible with other expressions that do reference propositions. In particular, "that"-clauses are shown to not be intersubstitutible with propositional anaphors like "so." The substitution failures are further argued to support a semantics on which "that"-clauses are predicates.
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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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  • Theories of Meaning.Jeff Speaks - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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