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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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Marián Zouhar - Against Descriptivism: On an Essential Difference between Proper Names and Definite Descriptions

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Marián Zouhar

Slovak Academy of Sciences

Against Descriptivism: On an Essential Difference between Proper Names and Definite Descriptions

1. Introduction

Saul Kripke’s attack on the so-called description theories of proper names – or descriptivism, for short – is still much discussed topic in the philosophy of language. The gist of it can be summarized in the following modal argument:1

Argument A

A1. According to descriptivism, proper names are synonymous with definite descriptions associated with the names.

A2. If proper names are synonymous with the associated definite descriptions, the two kinds of expression are modally indistinguishable.2

A3. However, it is not the case that proper names and definite descriptions are modally indistinguishable because the former are rigid designators while the latter are, as a rule, non-rigid designators.

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