Ideas from 'The Essence of Reference' by Mark Sainsbury [2006], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language' (ed/tr Lepore,E/Smith,B) [OUP 2008,978-0-19-955223-8]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas

5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / e. Empty names
It is best to say that a name designates iff there is something for it to designate
                        Full Idea: It is better to say that 'For all x ("Hesperus" stands for x iff x = Hesperus)', than to say '"Hesperus" stands for Hesperus', since then the expression can be a name with no bearer (e.g. "Vulcan").
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.2)
                        A reaction: In cases where it is unclear whether the name actually designates something, it seems desirable that the name is at least allowed to function semantically.
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 2. Descriptions / b. Definite descriptions
Definite descriptions may not be referring expressions, since they can fail to refer
                        Full Idea: Almost everyone agrees that intelligible definite descriptions may lack a referent; this has historically been a reason for not counting them among referring expressions.
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.2)
                        A reaction: One might compare indexicals such as 'I', which may be incapable of failing to refer when spoken. However 'look at that!' frequently fails to communicate reference.
Definite descriptions are usually rigid in subject, but not in predicate, position
                        Full Idea: Definite descriptions used with referential intentions (usually in subject position) are normally rigid, ..but in predicate position they are normally not rigid, because there is no referential intention.
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.5)
                        A reaction: 'The man in the blue suit is the President' seems to fit, but 'The President is the head of state' doesn't. Seems roughly right, but language is always too complex for philosophers.
19. Language / B. Reference / 3. Direct Reference / b. Causal reference
A new usage of a name could arise from a mistaken baptism of nothing
                        Full Idea: A baptism which, perhaps through some radical mistake, is the baptism of nothing, is as good a propagator of a new use as a baptism of an object.
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.3)
                        A reaction: An obvious example might be the Loch Ness Monster. There is something intuitively wrong about saying that physical objects are actually part of linguistic meaning or reference. I am not a meaning!
19. Language / B. Reference / 5. Speaker's Reference
Even a quantifier like 'someone' can be used referentially
                        Full Idea: A large range of expressions can be used with referential intentions, including quantifier phrases (as in 'someone has once again failed to close the door properly').
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.5)
                        A reaction: This is the pragmatic aspect of reference, where it can be achieved by all sorts of means. But are quantifiers inherently referential in their semantic function? Some of each, it seems.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 3. Natural Function
Things are thought to have a function, even when they can't perform them
                        Full Idea: On one common use of the notion of a function, something can possess a function which it does not, or even cannot, perform. A malformed heart is to pump blood, even if such a heart cannot in fact pump blood.
                        From: Mark Sainsbury (The Essence of Reference [2006], 18.2)
                        A reaction: One might say that the heart in a dead body had the function of pumping blood, but does it still have that function? Do I have the function of breaking the world 100 metres record, even though I can't quite manage it? Not that simple.