What Determines the Reference of Names? What Determines the Objects of Thought

Erkenntnis:1-19 (2018)
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Abstract
It is fairly widely accepted that Saul Kripke, Keith Donnellan, and others showed in the 1960s-1980s that proper names, in particular uses by speakers, can refer to things free of anything like the epistemic requirements posited by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. This paper separates two aspects of the Frege-Russell view of name reference: (i) the metaphysical thesis that names in particular uses refer to things in virtue of speakers thinking of those things and (ii) the epistemic thesis that thinking of things requires a means of determining (in the sense of figuring out or identifying) which thing one is thinking of. My question is whether the Kripke-Donnellan challenge should lead us to reject (i), (ii), or both. Contrary to a popular line of thinking that sees practices or conventions, rather than singular thinking, as determinative of linguistic reference, my answer is that we should reject only the epistemic thesis, not the metaphysical one.
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2018
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Archival date: 2018-01-10
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2018-01-08

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