Publication details

Empty Proper Names: Semantic and Epistemological Issues

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Year of publication 2009
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Millianism is a semantic theory investigating reference-based meaning. Since proper names contribute just their referents to the propositions expressed, empty names pose problems for this approach. The paper suggests that Millianism has to admit that empty names are meaningless. So, empty names semantically differ from non-empty ones. However, Millianism may admit that, in communication, empty names and non-empty ones behave similarly. We argue that proper names, including empty ones, prompt one to create mental surrogates for individuals, if any, they are supposed to represent. The mental surrogates are called pure individuators because they identify individuals in a non-qualitative manner and distinguish objects from each other as merely numerically distinct. Pure individuators serve also as grounds for gathering information about individuals represented by them. We investigate how pure individuators work and guide our communication.
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