Singular Terms (1)

Bob Hale

in The Reason's Proper Study

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780198236399
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597565 | DOI:
Singular Terms (1)

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Inspired by remarks in Gottlob Frege's Grundlagen, Neo‐Fregeans claim that questions about the referentiality of an expression are to be determined through consideration of the expression's syntactical form (the ’context principle for reference’). This article is concerned with the problem of formulating acceptable syntactic criteria for singular termhood. Building on the work of Michael Dummett, criteria based on the inferential role of an expression are examined, and it is argued that such considerations can, at best, distinguish singular terms from expressions within the same broad grammatical category. Accordingly, Hale develops a test for distinguishing adjectives and predicates from substantival expressions, based on Aristotle's dictum that substances do not admit of contraries. Hale argues that, whereas the Aristotelian and inferential role tests are individually incomplete, they can be combined in such a way as to provide a criterion for singular termhood adequate to sub‐serve the neo‐Fregean project.

Keywords: Aristotle; Context Principle; Dummett; Frege; inferential role; singular terms

Chapter.  8244 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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