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Monday, October 30, 2017

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This goes somewhat beyond my initial question. Could we stick for the moment to the semantic connection between the two sentences? The second example was

There is a man called ‘Clinton’. He is a politician.

You say that that ‘he’ is a pronoun the antecedent of which is ‘Clinton.’ This is not correct. The antecedent is a ‘man called ‘Clinton’’. Perhaps you are thinking of the following?
Clinton is a man. He is a politician.

That was not my example. I will stop there. One step at a time.

A better example

There is a man called ‘Chris McDaniel’. McDaniel is a politician.
Does ‘McDaniel’ have a semantic connection to someone in reality? To whom? You may want to look up Chris McDaniel.

I looked up McDaniels and I learned that it is not nice to call an Hispanic girl 'mamacita' or 'Signorita Colita' -- not that I have ever done such a thing.

You seem to assume that a proper name cannot refer to a person unless the user of the name intends to refer to a particular person in exclusion from every other person bearing the same name. Is that right?

Suppose there is exactly one person who bears the name 'Chris McDaniel.' Does the name have a semantic connection to someone in reality? Yes, to the one person bearing the name in question.

How then can can the semantic function of a proper name be exhausted by back reference??

Hey Bill, you might remember me from back in May, we had a discussion about some of the overlooked weak points of anti-natalist philosophy. Do you remember I asked you if you'd ever heard of Justin Schieber? Justin is my favourite proponent of atheism, more so than Dawkins or Harris, because he's the only person who came to exactly the same conclusions about God that I did. His thesis, that the existence of the universe disproves theism, utilizes the problem of non-God objects to devastating effect. You can listen to him explain it here (17 minutes) and I think you might want to address him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj1mKI00-To

>> I looked up McDaniels
The point is that there are two politicians called ‘Chris McDaniel’.

>> You seem to assume that a proper name cannot refer to a person unless the user of the name intends to refer to a particular person in exclusion from every other person bearing the same name. Is that right?

No, not right. Who we intend or have in mind is irrelevant. As Geach notes, someone might have some girl in their mind when they utter ‘some girl is loved by every boy’, but this does not matter. ‘Suppose he has Mary in mind whereas in fact not Mary but Jane is loved by every boy; then “some girl is loved by every boy” will be true although “Mary is loved by every boy” would be false, and hence “some girl” cannot, even for the nonce, be being used to refer to Mary’.
He also says ‘If Smith did have a definite man in mind, there is, as we just saw, a common use of ‘refer’ in which we can say Smith referred to that man; but it does not follow that the actual phrase ‘some man’ referred then and there to the man in question’. So when I say

There is a man called ‘Chris McDaniel’.
given that there are at least two men, probably thousands, who satisfy the indefinite description ‘called Chris McDaniel’, I have not referred to any of them, in that I have not told you which of these I am talking about. I probably have one of them in mind (and I was in fact thinking about the mississipi politician) but I did not tell you which, i.e. I did not give you that information. So the general existential proposition does not refer. Indeed its whole purpose is not to refer.

>> Suppose there is exactly one person who bears the name 'Chris McDaniel.' Does the name have a semantic connection to someone in reality? Yes, to the one person bearing the name in question.
No, for the reasons set out by Geach. Suppose we line 10 people up by way of a police identification, and the officer truly says ‘one of the people in this line is Chris McDaniel’. There is no semantic connection with reality. The officer has not told me which person McDaniel is.


It seems obvious to me that if there is exactly one person named 'NN' then 'NN' names that person.

>>It seems obvious to me that if there is exactly one person named 'NN' then 'NN' names that person.

Possibly, but Geach’s point is that the indefinite noun phrase ‘a person named ‘NN’’ does not name or refer to that person. This is the confusion we began with. You mention the case where just one person is so-called. Does the indefinite noun phrase refer in that case? I don’t think so, but here we move to another of the arguments I am toying with. Can we stick to the case where at least two people are so-called. Consider

There is a man called ‘Chris McDaniel’. McDaniel is a politician
Now there are at least two politicians so-called (Chris McDaniel and Chris McDaniel). So it’s clear the indefinite term ‘a man called ..’ does not refer to either of them, although being a man called ‘Chris McDaniel’ is true of both.

What of the name that is used in the second sentence? You would like to say it refers, but to which one? You can’t tell, because not enough information is given. Now it might be that I have one of them in mind, rather than the other, but unless you are clairvoyant, you have no idea which. But I do claim that there is a semantic connection between the two sentences, for we can infer ‘some man is a politician’ from them together, but not from either of them on their own.

So my claim is (i) there is a semantic connection between the sentences, and (ii) this exhausts the semantics of the proper name in the second sentence. Otherwise the proper name would identify which of the people so-called was a politician.

The case of a single person so-called I set aside. On the question of eliminativism, later, when we are clear about what ‘reference’ actually is. A working definition is, a subject term refers when it tells us which individual the predicate term is true of. I am not eliminativist about that. Clearly indefinite and definite noun phrases are semantically quite different.

>>Now there are at least two politicians so-called (Chris McDaniel and Chris McDaniel). So it’s clear the indefinite term ‘a man called ..’ does not refer to either of them, although being a man called ‘Chris McDaniel’ is true of both.<<

I take it, then, that for you reference is necessarily singular. If a term T refers to x, then there is no y distinct from x such that T refers to both x and y.

Is reference the same as naming? If yes, then there are no common names. 'Cat' is not a common name.

More later.

>>I take it, then, that for you reference is necessarily singular.

The medieval distinction might help here. There are three types of term:

1. Those which can be true of many all at the same time. Example 'cat' / 'person named Trump.

2. Those which can be true of at most one person at one time, but many over different times, or different possible situations (President of the U.S.)

3. Those which by nature can only be true of the same person over any time, or situation.

The distinction roughly corresponds to common name, definite description, genuinely singular term or 'rigid designator'. ('Trump', used in the sense where it means Donald himself, current president of US).

Those are important distinctions. But you didn't tell me how you are using 'reference.' I assume that you will say that (1) and (2) are not cases of reference, but that only (3) is.

Is that right?

Further, do 'refer' and 'name' have the same sense?

>>Those are important distinctions. But you didn't tell me how you are using 'reference.' I assume that you will say that (1) and (2) are not cases of reference, but that only (3) is.

I prefer ‘definiteness’ or ‘telling-which’. Thus (1) is not a case of reference, because it doesn’t tell us which cat is F. But definite descriptions and pronouns and proper names, demonstratives, all tell-us-which.

The underlying phenomenon, let’s call it anaphora (Greek word for ‘reference’) is in my view a semantic connection between sentences. It’s the property that connects predicates together, signifying that if the connected sentences are true, a single thing satisfies the predicates. Thus

A man is in the crowd. A man is waving
does not license the inference to ‘a man in the crowd is waving. But
A man is in the crowd. The man/he is waving
does license the inference. That, I claim, is all you need to know about reference.

(Actually, it's not all. We need to explain reference statements of the form 'a refers to b'. But leave that for now.)

Sorry missed this
>>Further, do 'refer' and 'name' have the same sense?

Not quite. Consider Goliath, the Philistine slain by David. He was not called, i.e. not known as 'Goliath'. The Bible seems to have made a mistake about his name, confusing him with another person named 'Goliath'. Naming or calling someone by a name is a social practice. I suppose we call him ‘Goliath’. But then consider the situation where we disguise the identity of a person. ‘There is this guy who works at the yard. Let’s call him ‘Frank’ ..’.

Clearly you know who I mean as I continue the story. But no social convention is involved.

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