Names Are Predicates

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

One reason to think that names have a predicate-type semantic value is that they naturally occur in count-noun positions: ‘The Michaels in my building both lost their keys’; ‘I know one incredibly sharp Cecil and one that's incredibly dull’. Predicativism is the view that names uniformly occur as predicates. Predicativism flies in the face of the widely accepted view that names in argument position are referential, whether that be Millian Referentialism, direct-reference theories, or even Fregean Descriptivism. But names are predicates in all of their occurrences; they are predicates that are true of their bearers. When a name appears as a bare singular in argument position, it really occupies the predicate position of what in this essay is called a denuded definite description: a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. Sloat provided good evidence for this. The definite article is sometimes pronounced with names in the singular: ‘The Ivan we all love doesn't feel well’. Sloat proposed a disjunctive generalization of when the definite article must be pronounced with a singular name. This essay shows that by slightly revising Sloat's generalization, we arrive at a simple, nondisjunctive, syntactic rule that governs the overt appearance of the definite article with singular names. But Ivan does not necessarily bear the name ‘Ivan’, so one might worry that the sentence “Ivan might not have had ‘Ivan’ as a name” would incorrectly be predicted false. This essay shows that Predicativism does not have this consequence by showing that incomplete definite descriptions in general and incomplete denuded descriptions, such as ‘Øthe Ivan’, in particular are rigid designators

Author's Profile

Delia Fara
Last affiliation: Princeton University

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