Against predicativism about names

  • Jeonggyu LeeEmail author


According to predicativism about names, names which occur in argument positions have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. In this paper, I shall argue that these bare singular names do not have the same type of semantic contents as predicates. I will present three objections to predicativism—the modal, the epistemic, and the translation objections—and show that they succeed even against the more sophisticated versions of predicativism defended by Fara and Bach.


Predicativism Referentialism Name Definite description Rigidity Translation 



For insightful comments and suggestions, I would like to thank an anonymous referee, Sam Cumming, Billy Dunaway, Jinho Knag, and audiences at the 2017 CSPA, the 2018 APA Pacific, and the 2018 SEP meetings. I am especially grateful to Nathan Salmon, Dan Korman, Teresa Robertson, and David Mokriski for extremely helpful discussions and comments on previous versions of this paper.


  1. Bach, K. (1987). Thought and reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bach, K. (2002). Giorgione was so-called because of his name. Philosophical Perspectives, 16, 73–103.Google Scholar
  3. Burge, T. (1973). Reference and proper names. Journal of Philosophy, 70, 425–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Church, A. (1950). On Carnap’s analysis of statements of assertion and belief. Analysis, 10, 97–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Church, A. (1954). Intensional isomorphism and identity of belief. Philosophical Studies, 5, 65–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Donnellan, K. (1966). Reference and definite descriptions. Philosophical Review, 75, 281–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elbourne, P. (2005). Situations and individuals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Fara, D. G. (2011). You can call me “stupid”, … just don’t call me stupid. Analysis, 71, 492–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fara, D. G. (2015a). Names are predicates. Philosophical Review, 124, 59–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fara, D. G. (2015b). “Literal” uses of proper names. In A. Bianchi (Ed.), On reference (pp. 251–279). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Guerts, B. (1997). Good news about the description theory of names. Journal of Semantics, 14, 319–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jeshion, R. (2002). The epistemological argument against descriptivism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 64, 325–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jeshion, R. (2015a). Names not predicates. In A. Bianchi (Ed.), On reference (pp. 225–250). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jeshion, R. (2015b). A rejoinder to Fara’s “Literal” uses of proper names. In A. Bianchi (Ed.), On reference (pp. 280–294). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kneale, W. (1966). Modality de dicto and de re. Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics, 44, 622–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Korman, D. (2010). The contingent a priori and the publicity of a priori knowledge. Philosophical Studies, 149, 387–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kripke, S. (1977). Speaker’s reference and semantic reference. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 2, 255–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kripke, S. (1980). Naming and necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Matushansky, O. (2008). On the linguistic complexity of proper names. Linguistics and Philosophy, 21, 573–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moore, G. E. (1944). Russell’s “theory of descriptions”. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Bertrand Russell (pp. 177–225). Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Neale, S. (1990). Descriptions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Plantinga, A. (1978). The Boethian compromise. American Philosophical Quarterly, 15, 129–138.Google Scholar
  23. Rami, D. (2014). On the unification argument for the predicative view on proper names. Synthese, 19, 841–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rami, D. (2017). Names and their kind of rigidity. Erkenntnis. Scholar
  25. Rothschild, D. (2007). Presuppositions and scope. Journal of Philosophy, 104, 71–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Salmon, N. (1982). Assertion and incomplete definite descriptions. Philosophical Studies, 42, 37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Salmon, N. (1982 [2005]). Reference and essence (2nd ed.). Amherst: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  28. Salmon, N. (1990). The pragmatic fallacy. Philosophical Studies, 63, 83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sawyer, S. (2010). The modified predicate theory of proper names. In S. Sawyer (Ed.), New waves in philosophy of language (pp. 206–225). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schoubye, A. J. (2018). The predicative predicament. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 96, 571–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sellars, W. (1954). Presupposing. Philosophical Review, 63, 197–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sloat, C. (1969). Proper nouns in English. Language, 45, 26–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Soames, S. (2002). Beyond rigidity: The unfinished semantic agenda of naming and necessity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Soames, S. (2003). Philosophical analysis in the twentieth century (Vol. 2). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Stanley, J. (1997). Names and rigid designation. In B. Hale & C. Wright (Eds.), A companion to the philosophy of language (pp. 555–585). Oxford: Blackwell Press.Google Scholar
  36. Stanley, J., & Szabó, Z. G. (2000). On quantifier domain restriction. Mind and Language, 15, 219–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wettstein, H. (1981). Demonstrative reference and definite descriptions. Philosophical Studies, 40, 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wettstein, H. (1983). The semantic significance of the referential—Attributive distinction. Philosophical Studies, 44, 187–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.University of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

Personalised recommendations