, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 251-265

First online:

Perspectival Direct Reference for Proper Names

  • Ralph William ClarkAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, Stansbury Hall, West Virginia University Email author 

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I defend what I believe to be a new variation on Kripkean themes, for the purpose of providing an improved way to understand the referring functions of proper names. I begin by discussing roles played by perceptual perspectives in the use of proper names, and then broaden the discussion to include what I call “cognitive perspectives.” Although both types of perspectives underwrite the existence of intentional intermediaries between proper names and their referents, the existence of these intentional intermediaries does not entail that a Kripke-inspired view of direct reference must be abandoned. At the same time, the existence of these intermediaries can be seen to play illuminating roles as regards the referring functions of proper names in the following types of cases, among others: (a) where different names pick out the same subject; (b) where names are empty. Along the way, I argue that “perspectival views” are not something “inside the head” of language users as intended by Putnam in his well-known discussion of meaning.


Direct reference Kripke Proper names Perceptual perspectives Empty names