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Reference and Referring

Reference and Referring

William P. Kabasenche
Michael O’Rourke
Matthew H. Slater
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    Reference and Referring
    Book Description:

    These fifteen original essays address the core semantic concepts of reference and referring from both philosophical and linguistic perspectives. After an introductory essay that casts current trends in reference and referring in terms of an ongoing dialogue between Fregean and Russellian approaches, the book addresses specific topics, balancing breadth of coverage with thematic unity. The contributors, all leading or emerging scholars, address trenchant neo-Fregean challenges to the direct reference position; consider what positive claims can be made about the mechanism of reference; address the role of a theory of reference within broader theoretical context; and investigate other kinds of linguistic expressions used in referring activities that may themselves be referring expressions. The topical unity and accessibility of the essays, the stage-setting introductory essay, and the comprehensive index combine to make R eference and Referring, along with the other books in the Topics in Contemporary Philosophy series, appropriate for use in advanced undergraduate and graduate courses.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30603-4
    Subjects: Technology, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Reference and Referring: A Framework
    (pp. 1-32)
    Jessica Pepp

    It is obvious, though quite remarkable upon reflection, that language is significant. The noises, marks, and movements that we classify as linguistic are not meaningless bursts of sound, ink stains on paper, or manipulations of hands and fingers. Rather, they signify: they convey information, pose questions, issue requests, express feelings, and the like. The topic of this volume, reference, is a central aspect of this significance. When we refer to particular objects, we provide subjects for our conversations, speeches, written works, and other forms of discourse. We make our discourse concern particular objects. Because of this, reference is often thought...

  5. 2 Descriptivism and the Representation of Spatial Location
    (pp. 33-62)
    Robin Jeshion

    I’ve just bought an exquisite photograph. Where to hang it? Should it go there, over the sofa? Or there—several feet away, near the chest? Once I decide on putting it over the sofa, I must place it. Should it go there? Orthere, three inches down? Once I’ve selected my desired location, I keep my eyes and attention fixed to that very point so as to retain specification of my chosen spot.

    Deciding on where to hang precious photographs can be difficult. But isolating and referring to spatial locations to hang them is easy; so too is re- (or...

  6. 3 Empirical Data and the Theory of Reference
    (pp. 63-82)
    Genoveva Martí

    Experimental philosophy is a relatively recent movement that questions the supposedly traditional philosophical methodology. Traditional philosophers, according to experimentalists, reason entirely a priori and use exclusively their own judgments to determine whether the consequences of the principles they defend or attack are intuitively correct, and they do so usually via mental experiments in which they try to gauge what, according to the principles in question, one would have to say in the conditions described in the hypothetical scenario. Experimental philosophers, on the other hand, advocate the collection of data through surveys that elicit the intuitive judgments of subjects, philosophers and...

  7. 4 Two Versions of Millianism
    (pp. 83-118)
    Scott Soames

    With the addition of Kit Fine’s (2007)Semantic Relationismto the mix, there are now two main versions of Millianism on offer.¹ Both maintain

    (i) that the semantic contents of names, indexicals, and variables (appropriately relativized) are their referents;

    (ii) that the semantic contents of sentences (so relativized) are the propositions they express;

    (iii) that attitudes like assertion and belief are relations to propositions; and

    (iv) that the semantic contents of attitude reportsA asserts/believes that Srepresent the agent as bearing the attitude to the proposition expressed by S (relative to the context of utterance and any relevant assignment...

  8. 5 Semantic Stipulation and Knowledge De Re
    (pp. 119-148)
    Chris Tillman and Joshua Spencer

    Suppose we rush into the Department of Homeland Security and enthusiastically inform its occupants that we know the precise, present location of Osama bin Laden. We confidently tell them that, if Osama is presently located, then, presently, Osama is located at L! We know this because ‘L’ is the name that we have introduced for Osama’s precise present location, if such a location exists. Furthermore, we claim,theycan come to know this information on the basis of our testimony. We present the baffled agents with copies ofNaming and Necessityand offer to divulge any other highly sensitive information...

  9. 6 Hob, Nob, and Mythical Witches
    (pp. 149-188)
    David Braun

    Peter Geach (1967, 1972) says that there is a reading of sentence (G) that can be true in a world without witches, and yet is true only if Hob and Nob are, in some sense, thinking of the same witch:

    (G) Hob thinks that a witch has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether she (the same witch) killed Cob’s sow.

    Nathan Salmon (1998, 2002) agrees with Geach, more or less. Salmon thinks that there are no witches, but he does think that there aremythicalwitches. Salmon claims that (G) has a reading on which it attributes thoughts about...

  10. 7 From Having in Mind to Direct Reference
    (pp. 189-208)
    Antonio Capuano

    What are English speakers doing when they use ‘Cicero’ in a subject-predicate sentence like ‘Cicero is an ancient Roman orator’? One thing they seem to be doing is making Cicero a subject of discourse. They say of Cicero that he is a Roman orator. Something similar happens when English speakers use the first-person pronoun ‘I’. Intuitively, when I say, “I am Italian,” I am saying something of me. I used the English first-person pronoun but I could have used my name to reach the same effect. For instance, in a pompous way, I could have said: “Antonio Capuano is Italian.”...

  11. 8 Necessity in Reference
    (pp. 209-234)
    Ori Simchen

    Are nouns necessarily about whatever they are about, or are they only contingently so? Consider proper nouns: Is it necessary that Socrates’s name refer to him? In the closing paragraph to a much-cited paper on the metaphysics of words, David Kaplan writes:

    The question, ‘Is it possible that a name which in fact names a given individual, might have named a different individual?’ is, for me, a substantial metaphysical question about the essence of a common currency name. By calling the question asubstantial,metaphysicalone, I do not intend to puff up its importance nor to make it seem...

  12. 9 Has the Theory of Reference Rested on a Mistake?
    (pp. 235-252)
    Mark Hinchliff

    The problem of reference is given by questions such as these: How do words hook on to or attach to the world? In virtue of what is it the case that words refer to things? In Lecture II ofNaming and Necessity, Saul Kripke drew two pictures of how names refer, and he argued that the causal-chain picture was better than the descriptivist picture. I argue that the two pictures share a trait that distorts our understanding of how we use names to refer to things. If we drop the trait, a big piece of the theory of reference also...

  13. 10 Referring to What Is and to What Isn’t
    (pp. 253-270)
    Jody Azzouni

    It’s widely believed that truth-conditional semantic theories must be characterized using tools (such as quantifiers that range over set-theoretical entities) that are ontologically committing. In particular, a model-theoretic approach to language is seen as requiring real objects to characterize the semantics of languages—for example, the relata of terms and the extensions of predicates. This involves, however, a misconstrual of the very tools that are used in standard semantic theories. Such tools can be utilized just as they are by semanticists, but they need not be understood as ontologically committing. To facilitate my argument for the claim that semantic theories...

  14. 11 Reference and Jazz Combo Theories of Meaning
    (pp. 271-304)
    Kenneth A. Taylor

    The aim of this essay is to argue against what I calljazz comboapproaches to the nature of what I callobjective representational content. I begin by spelling out briefly what I mean by objective representational content. I then outline the broad parameters of jazz combo theories of meaning before taking up my argument against such approaches.

    By objective representational content, I mean the property that our words and our thoughts have of being “semantically answerable” to how things are by objects in the world. Consider the following example. There is a person Smith with whom I am acquainted....

  15. 12 Quantification and Conversation
    (pp. 305-324)
    Chad Carmichael

    In ordinary contexts, when I utter the sentence

    (1) Everything is in the car

    I communicate something like

    (2) All of the things that I ought to have put in the car in these circumstances are in the car

    and I do not communicate anything like

    (3) Absolutely everything in the universe is in the car.

    I begin by sketching two views about how it is that I manage to communicate what I do by uttering (1) in an ordinary context.

    The first of these two views is what I callrestrictionism.¹ According to restrictionism, the explanation of how I...

  16. 13 : (In)definiteness and Implicature
    (pp. 325-356)
    Laurence R. Horn and Barbara Abbott

    The Corpus of Contemporary American English, containing over 400 million words (, includes over 22 million instances ofthe, the winner in a romp, almost twice as prolific as the runner-up item,be.Theconstitutes one out of every fifteen words in the corpus, whilea/anfinishes in fifth place ( So it’s very important for any semantic theory to get the meaning of the right, and almost as important fora.

    In this chapter we review some recent accounts of the contrast between the definite and indefinite articles of English, accounts that (i) analyze both articles as...

  17. 14 Reference and Ambiguity in Complex Demonstratives
    (pp. 357-384)
    Geoff Georgi

    The last decade has seen a flurry of activity on the topic of complex demonstratives, most of which has focused on the question of whether they are singular referring expressions, like names, or structured denoting complexes, like quantifiers and definite descriptions. At the heart of this question is the status of standard referential uses of complex demonstratives, such as an utterance of (1) while pointing at my border collie Tally:

    (1) That dog is smart.

    The orthodox view of (1), due originally to David Kaplan, is that it expresses a singular proposition, relative to the context of use, that predicates...

  18. 15 Words Gone Sour?
    (pp. 385-404)
    Stavroula Glezakos

    In 2002, the Washington state legislature passed a bill characterizing the word ‘Oriental’ as “pejorative,” prohibiting its future use in publically funded materials, and urging “all state and local entities to review their statutes, codes, rules, regulations, and other official documents and revise them to omit the term ‘Oriental’ when referring to persons of Asian descent” (Washington State Engrossed Senate Bill 5954, 2002). Champions of the bill claimed that “[t]he wordOrientalcarries with it racist overtones,” that it characterizes those to whom it is applied as “exotic, strange, and so forth,” and that it offers “a Eurocentric depiction of...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 405-406)
  20. Index
    (pp. 407-422)