What Do Proper Names Refer to?

The Simple Sentence Puzzle and Identity Statements
  • Tomohiro SakaiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10091)


The purpose of this paper is to solve the simple sentence puzzle about proper names. (1) Superman leaps more tall buildings than Clark Kent. (2) Superman = Clark Kent. (3) Superman leaps more tall buildings than Superman. Even when (1) and (2) are true, (3) is false. It will be shown that this is not a real puzzle, because (i) (1) and (3) do not express singular propositions, and (ii) the identity statement in (2) only concerns singular propositions. In (1) and (3), the proper names refer to aspects of an individual at the level of explicature, while identity statements of the form X = Y mean that Y can be substituted for X salva veritate, only in singular propositions about X /Y. Given this difference in reference between (1)/(3) and (2), the conjunction of (1) and (2) does not entail (3), in accordance with our intuition.


Simple sentence puzzle Identity statement Substitution Singular proposition Proposition about aspects 



I would like to thank Daisuke Bekki (Ochanomizu University/JST CREST/National Institute of Informatics), who kindly gave me the opportunity to present this paper at LENLS 12, held at Keio University, Yokohama, Japan, on November 15–17 2015. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 25370437.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Waseda UniversityTokyoJapan

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