Reference and Response

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99999 (1):1-18 (2010)
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Abstract
A standard view of reference holds that a speaker's use of a name refers to a certain thing in virtue of the speaker's associating a condition with that use that singles the referent out. This view has been criticized by Saul Kripke as empirically inadequate. Recently, however, it has been argued that a version of the standard view, a _response-based theory of reference_, survives the charge of empirical inadequacy by allowing that associated conditions may be largely or even entirely implicit. This paper argues that response-based theories of reference are prey to a variant of the empirical inadequacy objection, because they are ill-suited to accommodate the successful use of proper names by pre-school children. Further, I argue that there is reason to believe that normal adults are, by and large, no different from children with respect to how the referents of their names are determined. I conclude that speakers typically refer _positionally_: the referent of a use of a proper name is typically determined by aspects of the speaker's position, rather than by associated conditions present, however implicitly, in her psychology
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Archival date: 2010-06-09
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