Referentialism and Predicativism About Proper Names
The debate over the semantics of proper names has, of late, heated up, focusing on the relative merits of referentialism and predicativism. Referentialists maintain that the semantic function of proper names is to designate individuals. They hold that a proper name, as it occurs in a sentence in a context of use, refers to a specific individual that is its referent and has just that individual as its semantic content, its contribution to the proposition expressed by the sentence. Furthermore, a proper name contributes its referent to the proposition expressed by virtue of mechanisms of direct reference to individuals, not by virtue of expressing properties. Predicativists embrace an opposing view according to which proper names are just a special kind of common noun. Their semantic function is to designate properties of individuals. A proper name, as it occurs in a sentence in a context of use, expresses a property, and that property is its contribution to the proposition...
KeywordsSemantic Theory Singular Term Common Currency Proper Noun Common Noun
Warm thanks to Michael Glanzberg and Karen Lewis for their exceptionally sharp comments, both critical and constructive, on my presentations at the Ohio Reference Workshop and Pacific APA, respectively. Three anonymous referees offered extensive incisive comments on a previous draft that contributed to major improvements. For helpful feedback and discussion, thanks also to Ashley Atkins, Delia Fara, Simon Goldstein, Hans Kamp, Jeff King, Ora Matushansky, Michael Nelson, Geoffrey Nunberg, Dolf Rami, Francois Recanati, Josef Stern, and Ken Taylor.
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