Reference and ethnic-group terms

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 47 (6):528 – 544 (2004)
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Abstract

The increasingly pluralistic character of modern societies has led to questions, not only about the proper use of ethnic-group terms, but also about the correct semantic analysis of them. Here I argue that ethnic-group terms are analogous to other linguistic expressions whose extension is fixed in the way suggested by a causal theory of reference. My view accommodates precisely those scenarios of communication involving ethnic-group terms that will be seen puzzling to Fregeans. At the same time, it undermines the plausibility of skepticism about those terms.

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Susana Nuccetelli
St. Cloud State University

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