Single Idea 8357

[catalogued under 19. Language / B. Reference / 5. Speaker's Reference]

Full Idea

If an utterance is not talking about anything, then the speaker's use is not a genuine one, but a spurious or pseudo-use; he is not making either a true or a false assertion, though he may think he is.

Gist of Idea

If an utterance fails to refer then it is a pseudo-use, though a speaker may think they assert something


Peter F. Strawson (On Referring [1950], 2)

Book Reference

'The Theory of Meaning', ed/tr. Parkinson,G.H.R. [OUP 1978], p.70

A Reaction

This is Strawson's verdict on 'The present King of France is bald'. His view puts speculative statements in no man's land. What do we make of 'Elvis lives' or 'phlogiston explains fire'?