Between Singularity and Generality: The Semantic Life of Proper Names

Linguistics and Philosophy:1-37 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
In this paper I argue that the predicate view of proper names 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 proper names based on incomplete syntactic data. I also show that Predicativism can neither explain the behaviour of proper names in full generality, nor claim the fundamentality of predicative names. In developing my own view, however, I accept the insight that proper names in some sense express generality. Hence I propose that proper names - 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 proper names are polyreferential, and also explain the behaviour of proper names in light of the wider phenomenon I called category change, and shown how Polyreferentialism can account for all uses of proper names.
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Archival date: 2018-11-13
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