Names and Singular Thought

In Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. New York, NY, USA: pp. 421-435 (2020)
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Abstract
Influential work on proper names, most centrally associated with Kripke (1980), has had a significant influence in the literature on singular thought. The dominant position among contemporary singularists is that we can think singular thoughts about any object we can refer to by name and that, given the range of cases in which it is possible to refer using a name, name use in fact enables singular thought about a name's referent. I call this the extended name-based thought thesis (extended-NBT). This chapter outlines the reasoning and presumptions of theorists who adopt extended NBT, and also outlines a set of reasons to resist it. The piece is distinctive in approaching the question of the relation between names and singular thought by focusing on the function of names and what this function entails (or doesn’t) about the kinds of thoughts (singular or descriptive) we have when we use names to communicate. In short, thinking about the function of names tells against the claim that name-use enables singular thought.
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