Cogprints

Recovering What Is Said with Empty Names

Piccinini, Dr. Gualtiero and Scott, Dr. Sam (2009) Recovering What Is Said with Empty Names. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Millians hold that the meaning of a proper name is just its referent. Empty names have no referent. Accordingly, assuming semantic compositionality, utterances containing empty names have no literal, truth-evaluable meaning. Nothing truth-evaluable is said, in Grice’s sense, by such utterances. But the intuitions of ordinary speakers are that utterances containing empty names are meaningful. In recent years, some Millians have attempted to explain such ordinary intuitions in terms of what is pragmatically imparted by sentences containing empty names. We argue that this strategy fails. We show that when nothing truth-evaluable is said by an utterance, intuitions to this effect can be recovered by speakers. But no such intuitions appear to be recoverable for sentences containing empty names. Furthermore, we argue that alternative Millian strategies for dealing with empty names are even worse off. Unlike Millianism, a good semantic theory should assign meaning to both full and empty names.

Item Type:Preprint
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
ID Code:6827
Deposited By:Piccinini, Dr. Gualtiero
Deposited On:04 May 2010 23:08
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:57

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