A Uniform Treatment of Property Designators as Singular Terms

LaPorte Joseph

in Rigid Designation and Theoretical Identities

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609208
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745027 | DOI:
A Uniform Treatment of Property Designators as Singular Terms

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It would appear on face value that some, but only some, property designators submit to a rigid–nonrigid distinction — designators that are grammatically singular. The present chapter does not call into question the default claim that some terms, like ‘whiteness’ and ‘courage’, are or can be treated as bona fide singular terms subject to a rigid–nonrigid distinction. It challenges the default view that terms like ‘white’ and ‘courageous’, as grammatically predicative terms, have to be treated differently. They do not. A uniform treatment of property designators as singular is plausible and preferable to the dualist alternative from J. S. Mill, which treats some property designators as singular but others as merely predicative. The present chapter also argues that even if Russell's theory of descriptions is adopted, so that definite descriptions are taken not to be singular terms, there is a rigid–nonrigid distinction for definite descriptions.

Keywords: Russell's theory of descriptions; Mill; Millian dualism; singular terms; predicative terms

Chapter.  13615 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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