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Proper Names: a Verbal Dispute: An investigation of the concept of reference
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The present paper sets out to investigate whether the contrast between Description theories of reference and Direct Reference theories constitutes what Chalmers calls “a broad verbal dispute” on the concept of reference.      I begin by describing Chalmers’ “method of elimination” concerning verbal disputes, according to which, in order to find out whether a dispute is verbal or whether it expresses a substantial disagreement on matters of fact, the key concept involved is barred and substituted by two new concepts defined according to the frameworks of the respective theories.   I limit the domain of my enquiry to proper names. I outline the version of Descriptivism advanced by Searle and the version of Direct Reference pictured by Kripke. The definition found for the Descriptive framework consists in reference being the thing that best fits a set of descriptions commonly known and associated with a proper name. In turn, the definition found for the Direct Reference framework consists in reference being the thing once baptized with the proper name used.   In order to concretely explicitate a substantial difference between the definitions of reference within the two framework, I use Dagfinn Føllesdal's general definition of reference, according to which reference is the thing that is talked about when a proper name is used. The Descriptive framework is consistent with Føllesdal's definition, while in Kripke's framework reference cannot be determined in terms of the thing that is talked about. I conclude that the role reference is asked to play differs distinctly within the two frameworks.   As a last step, I investigate whether the concept of reference of the Description Theory and the concept of reference of the Direct Reference Theory are acceptable respectively for the theorist of the opposing field. Statements are constructed in which the two terms expressing reference according to each framework are used and on which both frameworks can agree concerning their truth value.   The fact that the concept of reference in the two fields are substantially different and at the same time that they can be accepted by the opposing field points towards the conclusion that the dispute between the Descriptive theory and the Direct Reference theory can be understood, in Chalmers' terms, as broadly verbal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 28 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-93035OAI: diva2:745714
Subject / course
Available from: 2014-09-11 Created: 2014-09-11

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