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Thursday, January 21, 2016

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>>Those who simple-mindedly insist that Christians and Muslims worship the same God are uncritically presupposing a dubious Millian-Kripkean theory of reference.

Agree.

"God presents himself to Abraham in person. All of Abraham's experiences on this marvellous occasion are veridical. Abraham 'baptizes God' with the name Yahweh or YHWH. The same name (though in different transliterations and translations) is passed on to people who use it with the intention of preserving the direct reference the name got when Abraham first baptized God with it. The name passes down eventually to Christians and Muslims. Of course the conceptions of God are different for Abraham, St. Paul, and Muhammad. To mention one striking difference: for Paul God became man in Jesus of Nazareth; not so for Muhammad, for whom such a thing is impossible."

In my scenario in the thread below, I understood you to be saying that, if someone cynically and deceptively co-opted the name of a deity when setting up his religion, but didn't really intend to refer to the same thing as those from whom he had received the name, that would break the causal chain, so the name as used by his sincere and duped followers would no longer be referring to the same deity. I deliberately set that scenario up to be parallel to one possible interpretation of the history of Islam that would involve Mohammad's being a charlatan. (As opposed to his hallucinating or being honestly mistaken in some way.)

So if your "no" answer holds for that scenario and the Kripke theory, it would seem to hold for Islam, at least if that version of the history of Islam is true.

Agree.

Lydia, our host wrote, "If you accept a broadly Millian-Kripkean theory of reference, then it is reasonable to hold that (A) is true."

It's possible that the narrowly Kripkean theory has unintended consequences that contradict broadly Millian-Kripkean intuitions.

Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.

-Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council

Suppose I had a much-loved cat called ‘Napoleon’ who died recently. I utter the words ‘Napoleon was such a great character’ in the presence of some strangers. I fully intend to use the name ‘Napoleon’ to refer to that cat. Will my reference succeed? Who will the strangers think I am referring to?

I asked Bill earlier to consider his idea of reference as the speaker aiming at and hitting something (or not). Does that work for this case? Note that if my wife is also present, who shares my love of the deceased cat, she will know exactly who I am talking about.

The point is that hearer reference is more important than speaker reference.

Ed,

The strangers will think that you are referring to the French general, the victor at Jena, the vanquished at Waterloo, and saying something true of him. You failed to convey to the strangers the information you wanted to convey by failing to get them to think of a cat. But you succeeded in referring to what you intended to refer to.

It looks as if we have to distinguish between successful reference and successful communication of a reference.

Why not say this: You succeeded in referring to your cat, as you would not have had you never had a cat; you failed to communicate your successful reference to the strangers; you succeeded in communicating your successful reference to your wife.

Hearer's reference is presumably the purely mental reference caused in the hearer by your spoken reference.

The plot thickens. Robinson Crusoe semantics versus social semantics.

>>The plot thickens.
Yup.

This is as good a place as any to mention the Documentary Hypothesis, which I was taught as a fact while a student of theology. It doesn’t matter whether it is correct, as it illustrates my textual theory of reference nicely.

According to the DH, the Pentateuch was originally four separate complete narratives, later combined into the current form by different unknown editors. The four sources are the Yahwist (J, c. 950 BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah), Elohist (E, c. 850 BCE in the northern Kingdom of Israel), Deuteronomist (D, written c. 600 BCE in Jerusalem, Priestly source (P, c. 500 BCE in Babylon). The first two possibly combine two different Gods.

In J, the god called ‘YHWH’ is anthropomorphic, making man from clay with his own hands, walking in the Garden in cool of the evening, making clothes for Adam and Eve, enjoying food Abram offers Him, speaking face-to-face with humans. He is the subject of the second creation story in Genesis. (Most people do not realise there are two separate accounts). He can sometimes be bargained with, as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, occasionally relents when dissuaded by Moses. In one strange passage, he attempts to kill Moses at an inn, despite having just chosen him as his prophet. Yhwh was worshipped in the Southern Kingdom.

In E, the object of worship is referred to as ‘Elohim’, a plural noun for gods or Deity in Biblical Hebrew. Elohim was/were worshipped in the Northern Kingdom.

P is either a separate work, or as now thought, an editorial expansion of another of the four sources. P gives us the first of the two creation stories in Genesis, the one we all know, where God is a transcendent being, who makes all things happen through his power and will.

In D, God is the supreme law giver.

It is therefore possible (though unlikely) that the four sources originally referred to four different supernatural beings. However, when combined together into a single source, this turns into one reference. Note that the name for the God of the Northern Kingdom, Yhwh, is given in the majority of English translations as LORD, following the late Judaic oral tradition of substituting the ‘adonai’ (LORD) for ‘yhwh’.

How do we explain the combination of up to four referents into one? Not on the causal theory, because there are up to four possible causes. Not on the descriptive theory, because there are different descriptions – Yhwh is a human-like creature who walks, eats, talks with other humans etc, whereas Elohim is a transcendent being who created space and time and the universe. Not on the intentional theory, because the creation of a narrative with a single unified naming convention forces us to recognise a single referencing, just as 'Napoleon', without any other context, has a single reference.
We can’t change the (back) reference of ‘LORD’ any more than we can change the back reference of ‘he’. Thus, on the textual theory of reference, all reference is back-reference, and therefore all semantic.

I appreciate this is a radical theory, but perhaps it makes more sense than you all originally thought?

Brother Noah,

Thank you for the 'illuminating' quotation from Lumen Gentium

A conservative will take it as showing one of the ways in which Vatican II went off the rails. There is a failure to appreciate the difference between Christianity's relation of Judaism and its relation to Islam.

This has already been discussed in earlier posts and threads.

"By their fruits ye shall know them." What are the fruits of Islam? The suppression and brutal murder of Christians and the destruction of their churches and holy sites.

Arguably, the quotation is just a bit of politically correct appeasement of Muslim fanatics.

It is good to be conciliatory and ecumenical, but you can't conciliate fanatics.

When the barbarians begin destroying the churches of Italy and arrive at the gates of Rome, with St Peter's in their sights, what will you do then?

But actually this is all off-topic.

>>Thus, on the textual theory of reference, all reference is back-reference, and therefore all semantic.<<

When you say "all semantic," do you mean that no reference is speaker's reference, that all reference is semantic reference?

This is one wild theory you've got going, Ed.

You maintain that there is no extralinguistic reference at all, via indexicals or demonstratives or proper names or definite descriptions or indefinite descriptions or any other device.

And you deny that reference has anything to do with intentionality.

Suppose I say: 'I am happy.' If all reference is back-reference, what is the antecedent of 'I'?

Your theory implies that every grammatical pronoun has an antecedent.

What then is the antecedent of 'he' in 'He who hesitates is lost'?

Lydia,

Could I put your point as follows?

Those who claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God because of their tacit acceptance of something like the Kripkean theory of reference bear the burden of showing that Muhammad did not break the causal chain by cynically co-opting the divine name and using it without the intention of preserving its original reference.

If that is your point, then I agree.

So it looks as if those who think that of course Christians and Muslims worship the same God presuppose two things: that reference is Kripkean and that Muhammad did not break the causal chain of name transmission.

>>You maintain that there is no extralinguistic reference at all,

Well not quite. I hold that sentences of the form '"N" refers to N' are true, for example. However, what makes them true, I argue, is a purely intralinguistic mechanism.

This speaks to your point about there being no 'genus' above EL reference and back-reference. They are one and the same thing, except viewed from different perspectives. The EL theorist asks how I can deny that 'Obama' refers to Obama. Reply, I don't deny it at all.

>>Suppose I say: 'I am happy.' If all reference is back-reference, what is the antecedent of 'I'?

The very first occurrence of a singular term - according to the theory - is always indefinite. Subsequent occurrence back-refer as appropriate.

>>'He who hesitates is lost'?

Clearly quantificational use of the pronoun.

>>This is one wild theory you've got going, Ed.

Indeed. How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Given what you said about the earlier scenario, it would seem to follow that if one is a Kripkean you'd have to assume that in addition.

Mind you, I still wrestle a bit with the question of whether description ends up sneaking into a Kripkean theory by the back door _anyway_ when it comes to the condition that each one in the chain must "intend to refer to the same being as the one from whom he received it," because to my incurably descriptivist mind it would seem that at any point in the chain anybody who changes _enough_ his beliefs about the conceptual content of the term from the one from whom he received it, and knows that he has done so, is ipso facto no longer attempting to refer to the same person as the one from whom he received it. It would _seem_ that this could come up even in cases other than charlatanism--such as just deciding to change one's mind, hallucination, or whatever. But a hard-line Kripkean may have an answer to that such that, as long as one is sincere and non-deceptive, one will always be intending to refer to the being from whom one obtained the term, changes in content notwithstanding.

In that case, there would still appear to be one type of scenario (cynicism) where, given what you've said about Kripkean theories, Mohammad could have broken the chain, so the Kripkean would have to assume that didn't happen.

(I keep thinking of chain letters and chain e-mails when I'm writing about this theory--Don't break the chain!)

>>When you say "all semantic," do you mean that no reference is speaker's reference, that all reference is semantic reference?

Pretty much. This is not to say that the speaker/author cannot realise their intention through the appropriate use of signs, which means understand the context of the signs. For example, with the ‘Napoleon’ example, there is a convention that in general conversation, i.e. where you don’t know the audience, or without any background context, the name ‘Napoleon’ as used by you, co-refers with the name as used in history books. Or rather, it is as though the words you utter are part of the same text as a History of France or whatnot. By contrast, if in the privacy of your own home with family, where we own a cat with the same name, the convention is different.

>>Suppose I say: 'I am happy.' If all reference is back-reference, what is the antecedent of 'I'?

The very first occurrence of a singular term - according to the theory - is always indefinite. Subsequent occurrence back-refer as appropriate.

That sounds like nonsense to me, besides not answering my question.

Try again. 'I' does not need an antecedent. So it cannot be that all reference is back-reference.

>> So it looks as if those who think that of course Christians and Muslims worship the same God presuppose two things: that reference is Kripkean and that Muhammad did not break the causal chain of name transmission. <<

I agree. I think they should also explain why it is reasonable to believe that the chain was not broken.

>>Mind you, I still wrestle a bit with the question of whether description ends up sneaking into a Kripkean theory by the back door ... it would seem that at any point in the chain anybody who changes _enough_ his beliefs about the conceptual content of the term from the one from whom he received it, and knows that he has done so, is ipso facto no longer attempting to refer to the same person as the one from whom he received it. It would _seem_ that this could come up even in cases other than charlatanism--such as just deciding to change one's mind, hallucination, or whatever.<<

I'm inclined to agree. Even in cases of unintentional breakages of the chain (such as Marco Polo's supposed unintentional misuse of 'Madagascar'), it would seem that the only way to put the chain together again, or to figure how the chain was broken in the first place, or even if it was broken at all, is to use something like the descriptivist theory.

Suppose, for the use of any term, there is a rigorous chain of documentation for each instance of that usage. And suppose we could access this documentation.

If this were the case, we could review the documentation of every usage of a term throughout the history of the usage of that term. If there were a question about whether the use of that term was mistaken to the point of chain breakage, it would seem that we'd need to appeal to something like the descriptivist theory of reference in order to settle the question.

Lumen Gentium is making a very conservative point. Muslims believe -- whatever else they believe -- that God is creator, and that he will judge his creatures. Those beliefs are true for all who hold them. But Lumen Gentium issues a strong qualification in the same paragraph:

"Whatever good or truth is found amongst [non-Christian religions] is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator."

Lumen Gentium is a very conservative document, totally grounded in the Catholic tradition.

>> That sounds like nonsense to me, besides not answering my question.
Your question was “Suppose I say: 'I am happy.' If all reference is back-reference, what is the antecedent of 'I'?” I answered the question, albeit obliquely. But it was a pretty oblique question. Is your point as follows?

(1) (Ass) The pronoun in 'I am happy' refers
(2) (Ass) But it has no antecedent
(3) (Ass) If it has no antecedent, it cannot back-refer
(4) Hence (2-3) it does not back-refer
(5) So (1,4) some term (‘I’) refers, without back-referring
(6) Therefore (from 5), not all reference is back-reference.

First of all, have I correctly unpacked your question? If you agree, then I will unpack my answer. I think we both agree with assumption (3).

You need to read the following, Brother Noah. But please don't respond to it here.

http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/803-the-pointlessness-of-the-catholic-muslim-same-god-debate

Ed,

I endorse the argument you presented on my behalf.

Tell me why you don't accept it.

>>I endorse the argument you presented on my behalf. Tell me why you don't accept it.
I argue as follows:
(1) If a term has no antecedent, it does not tell us which individual the predicate is denoted to be true of.
(2) Every referring term tells us which thing the predicate is true of.
(3) Therefore a term which has no antecedent is not a referring term.

I assume you challenge premiss (1). But there are at least 3 cases of interest. First, what purports to be a historical narrative told in the first person. Second, an existing person speaking or writing remotely, e.g. by phone or email, and third existing person speaking to us in our presence.

The first case could be the beginning of the Book of Tobit :‘I am Tobit and this is the story of my life’. We agree this has no antecedent. Does it tell us who is speaking? No, because there is no prior occurrence of Tobit’s name before this book. Also, it is uncertain whether Tobit ever existed or not. If he never existed, we agree the name cannot refer. But the semantics of the name is independent of whether he might have existed or not. So the first occurrence of the pronoun does not tell us who Tobit is, nor does it refer.

Second case, remote communication. Now you are doing this in your blog, and you are writing stuff like ‘I am happy’. But that sentence has a different meaning depending on whether it appears in my comment, or Lydia’s comment, in yours or anyone else’s. The clue is the bit under the comment saying Posted by: Bill Vallicella. Hence the reference is clearly parasitic on the proper name which (if I am right) merely inherits reference from previous occurrences. Imagine I have never encountered your name before. How do I know who Bill Vallicella is, the first time I encounter a proposition expressed by that name? Indeed, Tobit goes on to say ‘During the time that Shalmaneser was emperor of Assyria, I was taken captive in my hometown of Thisbe’. Thisbe has never been identified with certainty, say the historians. But to identify is to tell us which, right? Shalmaneser we can identify, from Kings 2:17, where it says he was a king of Assyria.

Third case, you are in my presence, and you utter ‘I am happy’. Here I grant that it seems like genuine reference. But that’s because I know the sound of your voice, so the sound tells us which person is uttering 'I', not the pronoun itself. Imagine that everyone in the world had to use a Stephen Hawking voice box. How would we tell which person was ‘I’?

(2) is not obvious. 'A man' is a referring term since it picks out something that 'is at my door' is true of. Which man? An Hispanic man. Which Hispanic man? An Hispanic man with the name 'Pedro' on his shirt . . .

But I do nevertheless tend to share your Geachian intuitions about (2).

(1) strikes me as plainly false. Suppose I say to myself out of the blue, having been silent for hours before, 'I am happy.' (I do that quite a lot these days.) There is no antecedent, and yet my use of 'I' tells me which individual 'am happy' is true of.

In your last paragraph you seem to be confusing questions about reference with questions about communication. I can refer to myself in overt speech without succeeding in communicating to you that it is BV that is the logical subject of 'am/is happy.'

Successful reference ought not be conflated with successful communication of reference.

You don’t seem to disagree with my type 1 case where indexicals occur in narratives like Tobit. For example, I assume you take it that the ‘I’ in direct quotation is identical to the anaphoric ‘he’ in indirect quotation below.

There was a man in the crowd who said 'I am happy' = there was a man in the crowd who said he was happy.

We should focus on type 3 cases then. You say

>>Suppose I say to myself out of the blue, having been silent for hours before, 'I am happy.' (I do that quite a lot these days.) There is no antecedent, and yet my use of 'I' tells me which individual 'am happy' is true of.

I have trouble with this idea of speaker reference. The purpose of language and reference is to communicate with others. In what sense does your use of ‘I’ communicate anything to you?


>>In your last paragraph you seem to be confusing questions about reference with questions about communication. I can refer to myself in overt speech without succeeding in communicating to you that it is BV that is the logical subject of 'am/is happy.' Successful reference ought not be conflated with successful communication of reference.<<

I didn’t follow this. Reference simply is communating which thing the predicate is said to satisfy. I.e. the Geachian notion if you like, although Mill gives an early formulation in System of Logic, see also Russell in Problems of Philosophy, and Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919.

N.B. The noun 'reference' is derived from the Latin referre. The greek equivalent is the noun anaphora. It literally means 'bringing' or 'carrying' back, and as used by Apollonius means exactly what we mean by 'anaphora'. See e.g. here.

Wittgenstein (Philosophical Remarks, §61): ‘What distinguishes his toothache from mine? If the word ‘toothache’ means the same in ‘I have toothache’ and ‘He has toothache’, what does it then mean to say he can’t have the same toothache as I do? How are toothaches to be distinguished from one another?

Philosophical Remarks §64. [My emphasis]

‘I have a pain’ is a sign of a completely different kind when I am using the proposition, from what it is to me on the lips of another; the reason being that it is senseless, as far as I’m concerned, on the lips of another until I know through which mouth it was expressed. The propositional sign in this case doesn’t consist in the sound alone, but in the fact that the sound came out of this mouth. Whereas in the case in which I say or think it, the sign is the sound itself.

Ed,

Our disagreements go deep indeed. >>Reference simply is communating which thing the predicate is said to satisfy.<< By my lights, that is plainly mistaken. There is reference, both thinking reference and linguistic reference, in situations in which there is no communication.

You mention Geach and Russell. Give me some definite page references.

Your argument from etymology cuts no ice. You know that that is a fallacious form of argumentation.

All reference is back-reference? That is border-line absurd and tantanmount to denying that there is any reference. Why? Because reference is primarily extralinguistic. Back-reference and cross-reference are derivative phenomena.

I gave a clear example that suffices to refute your theory: 'I am happy.' 'I' in this use has no antecedent.

The other data you adduce may lend some support to your textual theory of reference, but you cannot ignore clear cases of extralinguistic reference.

Since you brought up Wittgenstein, I may accuse you of "one-sided philosophical diet." You are chowing down on data that support your theory while ignoring data that conflict with it.

You asked for some ‘references’. There is a lot more to be said, particularly on the influence of Apollonius on Reid, and of Reid on Mill, but here are a few things. As we all know, Mill says ‘A proper name [is] a word which answers the purpose of showing what thing it is that we are talking about, but not of telling anything about it’ [Mill A System of Logic 1. ii. 5, my emphasis]. He does not use the term ‘reference’ here, but he is clearly talking about the function of a proper name. Some modern theories of reference are called ‘Millian’ as a result, but this is a mistake. Mill did not hold that the meaning of a proper name is its bearer, but rather that a proper name is a ‘meaningless mark’.

The word ‘reference’ is not reintroduced as far as I know until W.E.Johnson (Logic, Part I (1921), although the obscure James Harris uses it as a translation of the greek anaphora. Johnson writes:

An object is introduced, and in the introduction a name is given, and when further reference is intended to the same object, the name is repeated which was given in the act of introduction.

He considers a narrative which begins ‘Once upon a time there was a boy who bought a beanstalk’, and which continues: ‘This boy was very lazy’. He says that the phrase ‘this boy’ means the boy just mentioned, ‘the same boy as was introduced to us by means of the indefinite article. Here the article 'this,' or the analogous article 'the,' is used in what may be called its referential [my emph] sense.’

Thus our story about the beanstalk which begins with the introductory indefinite 'a boy' may be continued either by using the phrase 'this boy' -- involving the referential article -- or by the pronoun 'he'; or thirdly by the proper name which prepares the way for repeated reference [my emph] to the same boy: 'Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack who bought a beanstalk.' It will be noted therefore that the way in which the proper name occurs in a narrative where it secures continuity of reference [my emph], illustrates the same principle as its use in ordinary intercourse, where it ensures agreement amongst different persons as to its single definite application: in both cases, the understanding of the application of the name involves reference [my emph] back to the act of introduction, when the name was originally imposed". Johnson 1921, I. 5. § 4.

Geach, in Reference and Generality p.6 denies that ‘some man’ refers to some man. ‘Who [my emph] can be the man or men referred to’? He argues that reference depends on the ability to give us an informative answer to the question ‘who can the man in question be?’. Geach discusses a whole theory of proper names in chapter 16 of Mental Actsthat is not far away from Johnson’s story-relative theory. Indeed I corresponded with Geach about this in the 1980s. I still have his letters in crabby old handwriting in the attic somewhere. Geach’s father (George Hender Geach) taught logic to his son, mentioning Johnson as an influence. Geach the elder was contemptuous of logic as taught in Oxford, where Geach the younger was compelled to study for financial reasons. See Logic Matters p.44.

Strawson famously introduces the seminal Individuals with the idea of story-relative reference. I don’t know if he was influenced by Johnson (who he refers to sometimes, but not often) in this.

A speaker tells a story which he claims to be factual. It begins: "A man and a boy were standing by a fountain", and it continues: "the man had a drink". Shall we say that the hearer knows which or what particular is being referred to by the subject-expression in the second sentence? We might say so. For, of a certain range of two particulars, the words "the man" serve to distinguish the one being referred to, by means of a description which applies only to him. But though this is, in a weak sense, a case of identification, I shall call it only a story-relative or, for short, a relative identification. For it is identification only relative to a range of particulars ... which is itself identified only as the range of particulars being talked about by the speaker. That is to say, the hearer, hearing the second sentence, knows which particular creature is being referred to of the two particular creatures being talked about by the speaker; but he does not, without this qualification, know what particular creature is being referred to. The identification is within a certain story told by a certain speaker. It is identification within his story; but not identification within history.

Strawson (‘On Referring’, in Logico-Linguistic Paper, London 1971, p.17 defines referring as the task of forestalling the … question what, who which one are you talking about.

A.N. Prior (Objects of Thought, 1971 p. 155) says that by a name ‘logicians generally understand an expression that we use to indicate which individual we area talking about when we are making a statement.’

Gareth Evans (The Varieties of Reference, Oxford 1982, p.89) defines what he calls ‘Russell’s Principle’ as follows. ‘The principle is that a subject cannot make a judgment about something unless he knows which object [my emph] his judgment is about’, referring to The Problems of Philosophy p.58, later adding ‘In order to make Russell’s Principle a substantial principle, I shall suppose that the knowledge which it requires is what might be called discriminating knowledge: the subject must have a capacity to distinguish the object of his judgment from all other things’.

Enough?

>> All reference is back-reference? That is border-line absurd and tantamount to denying that there is any reference.

My emphasis. Sure, but you need to define what it is that you are talking about when you use the term ‘reference’. It’s fine to say my argument from etymology cuts no ice, but the point of etymology and usage is to establish what other people generally mean when they use a word. As cited above, if logicians 'generally understand' x to mean y, then we should respect that. If your use is highly idiosyncratic, it behoves you to explain what you mean by it.

>> I gave a clear example that suffices to refute your theory: 'I am happy.' 'I' in this use has no antecedent.

And your point is that ‘I’ in this usage, i.e. where you are talking to yourself, does have a referent? How does this refute my theory, which is about telling or saying or identifying which person you are talking about? My theory isn’t about your theory, unless your theory is that, when you talk to yourself, you are somehow giving yourself information, including informing yourself who is talking to you, in talking to yourself.

A separate but related question on ‘reference without communication’. When you utter ‘I am happy’ to yourself while alone and having been silent for some while, do you mean that the content of your statement could have been communicated to another person, even though it wasn’t? So that you could inform me (by ‘I’) which entity satisfies ‘— is happy’?

Or do you mean, and I think you do, that you have privileged access to the referent of ‘I’ in a way that could not be communicated, i.e. so that what you mean to refer to is different from the entity I grasp as Bill being happy?

In this sense, it would be inconceivable that anyone else could grasp what the referent really was. Only you can. And when I ask whether only you can grasp the identity of the referent, you don’t mean that as a matter of fact, only you can. You mean it’s logically impossible, yes?

What does this mean for numerical identity? Is the referent of ‘you are happy’, uttered by me to you, numerically different from the referent of ‘I am happy’, uttered by you to yourself?

It’s an interesting question.

>> Mill did not hold that the meaning of a proper name is its bearer, but rather that a proper name is a ‘meaningless mark’.<< I may have misrepresented Mill on this point.

But how do you know that he did not mean that proper names lack connotation? I don't understand how a proper name could be a totally meaningless mark. If I introduce 'Nixblod' as the name of my new cat, then I have made of that mark a name and insofar forth given it a meaning. It has at least the meaning of being a name, not a predicate.

How could any word be wholly without meaning?

The W. E. Johnson passage displays the roots of your own conception. But what Johnson is talking about is back reference which is to be found both in ordinary intercourse and narratives.

So far you are just assuming that all reference is back reference.

I'll have to re-read ch. 16 of Mental Acts.

I honestly don't see how Strawson, Prior, or Evans support your view. In fact, Strawson supports my view with his distinction between identification within a story and identification within history.

Ed,

Just re-read Geach. No support for your view there, either. Seems to support my view. p. 73 "real-life context."

Is my use of 'reference' idiosyncratic? No, but yours is. See SEP:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/reference/

Clearly, what the majority of philosophers understand by 'reference' is primarily a word-world relation, not a word-word relation.

I maintain the reasonable view that some reference is extralinguistic. Your view is that no reference is extralinguistic.

To be clear, I was addressing your request for citations on the definition of reference as 'telling which', i.e. as communication.

Clearly Strawson feels that there must be identification within history, as it were, as well as story-relative.

Geach told me that the view in Mental Acts was an early one, perhaps suggesting that he had changed his view.

Evans view is totally the opposite of mine.

>>So far you are just assuming that all reference is back reference.

No I have given plenty of evidence for my view!

You can't prove that all reference is back reference by giving examples of back reference. You can't prove that all of London is pretty because some districts are.

Or are you making an inductive case for all reference being back reference?

And surely the web of language must make contact with reality at some points. How, if not by reference? I thought you said you weren't a linguistic idealist.

You also won't admit what to me is obvious: there is EL reference outside of communicative contexts.

>>You can't prove that all reference is back reference by giving examples of back reference. Or are you making an inductive case for all reference being back reference?<<

Induction is evil. Something more like a method of division. We can first divide all reference into linguistic only, i.e. just the spoken or written words, and nothing else, and linguistic plus perceptual cue.

A further division is into existing and non- or no longer existing things.

Yet another division is into things spatially present, and not so.

Some members of the divisions rule out members of other divisions. E.g. a non-existing thing cannot be spatially present. A thing that no longer exists cannot be present to perception, etc.

Let me think this true. You often make helpful suggestions, and this is one of them.

Nearly time for bed, but here is an argument from mathematical (not philosophical) induction. You agreed earlier that in

There was a robber called 'Barabbas'. Barabbas was in prison.
the name 'Barabbas' as used, i.e. in the second sentence, has back-reference only. And since it back refers to 'a robber', i.e. an indefinite description, it has no EL reference at all, in your sense. This considerably weakens your case. It follows that the next occurrence of 'Barabbas' also back-refers, doesn’t it. Otherwise state precisely the conditions under which it acquires EL reference. If the next occurrence back-refers, the same follows for the occurrence after that, and after that, and so on, so that there is a whole chain of terms. Mathematical induction says that all the terms in this chain, in virtue of being members of it, also back-refer. So you can’t escape the chain, at least in that text.

What happens if we use the name 'Barabbas' here, i.e. in this very text, on this blog on the internet? Is there genuine EL reference here? Surely not – you only know which Barabbas I am talking about when I refer you to the text in Mark, and so this token of the name is also part of the same chain that begins in the gospel. And so it must be for any genuine reference to Barabbas himself. It must be part of the chain, and mathematical induction proves that every member of the chain has back-reference.

I agree that there are other types of reference, but reference to historical characters is an important sub-class.

PS I just noticed that David Brightly has made some comments here.

The comment beginning ‘ Leave out 'extralinguistic' and it still makes sense’ is particularly insightful. He points out that in your example 'Max' links back to the indefinite 'one of my cats' in the second sentence where the name is introduced, so you could equally be talking about intralinguistic reference.

I need to respond to both of you. But I have other projects going such as a book to finish and reviews to write.

Maybe later.

I hope Brightly understands that I am not ignoring him or showing him disrespect if I fail to respond.

>> a book to finish
You are finishing the reading, or the writing of a book?

The writing of one, which is a tad more difficult.

The math. inductive argument you give is promising. But it doesn't show that all reference is back reference, which is what your thesis is. And mine is not that no reference is back reference.

What makes you think that Barabbas is an historical character? He might be merely storical. Remember Strawson's distinction?

There is more to history that 'his story' (to take a poke at the feminazis) there is also purported extra-storical reference.

Or is everything a narrative?

>>And mine is not that no reference is back reference.
Did you mean the ‘not’?

>>What makes you think that Barabbas is an historical character? He might be merely storical. Remember Strawson's distinction?

Nonetheless the statement ‘“Barabbas” refers to Barabbas’ is true, on my account, even if Barabbas is a fiction. It is true because the used token of ‘Barabbas’ back-refers to the mentioned token of ‘Barabbas’. You remember my point about demonic possession and bipolar disorder? It’s not that they are species of some genus. Rather, they are one and the same thing, viewed from different perspectives. What you call EL reference is one and the same as IL reference, but you think of ‘a refers to b’ as expressing a genuine relation, I do not.

Perhaps I could attempt to consolidate the discussion so far. The claim at the end of the OP is that there is no easy answer to the question whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, because it depends on our agreed theory of reference, and we have no agreed theory of reference. In particular, we should not uncritically presuppose 'a dubious Millian-Kripkean theory of reference'. Here is where I think we agree:

1. The Millian-Kripkean theories are dubious.

2. While we completely disagree about the wider applicability of the back-reference theory of reference, I think we agree that in cases where the only historical information is a single text like a gospel text, or the book of Moses, singular reference is a chain of reference that originates in an indefinite noun phrase, or in the 'first occurrence' of a singular term introducing a character who is completely unknown to us outside the text (e.g. the man in the linen cloth, or Barabbas). All reference in this context is back-reference, and the initial indefinite term does not refer in any sense (pace Sommers).

3. This is difficult for the causal theory to explain. How can the gospel writer ‘pass on the reference’ to a character if the character is introduced in an indefinite way, and the back-reference buck stops at the indefinite description. There seems to be a radical discontinuity.

4. Back-reference is ‘semantic’ in the sense that, while the author of a text can choose definite terms in a way that secures back-reference, and thus realises his intentions, this is entirely through grammatic and linguistic mechanism. If I write ‘John went into the desert and he ate locusts’, the back-reference of ‘he’ is independent of my intention. Even if I ‘want’ it to refer to someone else, I cannot prevent it back-referring to ‘John’, given that is what I have written.

5. You [i.e. Bill] have a somewhat different conception ‘speaker side’ of reference, where the speaker or author ‘aims’ at a referent-target, and may succeed or not. The IL theory aims more to explain ‘hearer side’ reference, and emphasises communication.

Comments on my definition of reference invited.

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