The Boethian Compromise

Alvin Plantinga

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195103762
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833573 | DOI:
The Boethian Compromise

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The Fregean view of proper names is that proper names express properties. I begin the essay by pointing out the inadequacies of anti‐Fregean views with respect to puzzles presented by empty proper names, negative existentials containing proper names, and by propositional identity in the context of propositional attitudes. I then develop the Boethian view, which claims that (1) proper names do indeed express properties, (2) proper names express essences, and (3) different proper names of an object can express logically equivalent but epistemically inequivalent essences of that object. The Boethian view is a compromise because it holds that proper names only express essences and that the reference of proper names, in at least some cases, is determined in the way the anti‐Fregeans suggest. Finally, in light of the Boethian compromise, I revise my account of proper names given in The Nature of Necessity, and endorse the position that different proper names of the same object can express different essences.

Keywords: essence; Frege; negative existentials; proper names; property; propositional attitudes; reference

Chapter.  7435 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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