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Philosophical Approaches to Proper Names

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Edited By Piotr Stalmaszczyk and Luis Fernández Moreno

The articles in this collection focus on philosophical approaches to proper names. The issues discussed include abstract names, empty names, naming and name-using practices, definite descriptions, individuals, reference, designation, sense and semantics. The contributions show the importance and lasting influence of theories proposed by John Stuart Mill, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Donald Davidson, and Saul Kripke. Individual chapters assess traditional analyses and modern controversies, and contribute to the debate on proper names in contemporary philosophy of language.
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Manuel García-Carpintero - Predicativism and the Mill-Frege Theory of Proper Names

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Manuel García-Carpintero

University of Barcelona

Predicativism and the Mill-Frege Theory of Proper Names*

1. Metalinguistic descriptivism and its varieties

In this paper I compare an account of the semantics of proper names that I have been defending in the past with related predicativist views that have recently become prominent, and argue in favor of the former. I call the account the Mill-Frege theory because of its syncretic features: it combines important tenets of Fregean views with central features of the theory of direct reference. According to the Mill-Frege theory, proper names are (in a sense) mere tags that lack connotation, and are therefore rigid designators; this explains the ‘Mill’, while the ‘Frege’ is explained by the fact that the account makes this claim compatible with core tenets of Fregean theories of reference. According to the account, proper names have linguistic senses, known by competent speakers on the basis of their linguistic competence. The Mill-Frege theory thus rejects strict Millianism, as defined here:

According to Mill, a proper name is, so to speak, simply a name. It simply refers to its bearer, and has no other linguistic function. In particular, unlike a definite description, a name does not describe its bearer as possessing any special identifying properties. (Kripke 1979: 239–240)

The Mill-Frege account is a version of the sort of metalinguistic descriptivism that Kripke (1980: 68–74) criticizes as circular. It shares this important...

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