Friday, June 03, 2011

The arguments for direct reference (review)

I've been away for a week.  Now I am back, and it is time to review the arguments for direct reference that we considered earlier, and to prepare for a reply.

Argument 1 was that a proper name does not signify something that is repeatable, therefore does not signify a property. Therefore it signifies an object.

Argument 2 was that a name cannot be significant or intelligible to another unless the idea of what the name applies to is in the other person’s mind. But we can only have the idea of a particular thing by being acquainted with that thing, which is only possible if that thing actually exists.

Argument 3 was that definition proceeds by genus and specific difference. Therefore a proper name cannot be defined, for they name individuals, and individuals are not species. They have no specific difference, and can only be distinguished by the proper name itself.

Argument 4 was that truth-conditional semantics rests on the assumption that the conditions for the truth of a sentence give the sentence’s meaning or significance. But there is no truth evaluable content when reference failure occurs. If there are no truth conditions, then there is no meaning or significance.

More later.  Have a good weekend, readers.

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