Vacuous Names and Fictional Entities*

Kripke Saul A.

in Philosophical Troubles

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730155
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918430 | DOI:
Vacuous Names and Fictional Entities*

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One of the main concerns of Kripke's previous work is the semantics of proper names and natural kind terms. A classical view which Putnam mentioned, advocated by Mill, states that proper names have as their function simply to refer; they have denotation but not connotation. The alternative view, which until fairly recently has dominated the field, has been that of Frege and Russell. They hold that ordinary names have connotation in a very strong sense: a proper name such as “Napoleon” simply means the man having most of the properties we commonly attribute to Napoleon, such as being Emperor of the French, losing at Waterloo, and the like. For various general terms, such as cow and tiger or elm and beech, not only Frege and Russell, but Mill as well, held that they have connotation in the sense that we learn what it is to be a tiger by being given some list of properties which form necessary and sufficient conditions for being a tiger. In both these cases, both where Mill and Frege– Russell disagree and where Mill and Frege–Russell agree, Kripke has advocated the view that the consensus is largely wrong; that it is reference which is much more important here than any supposed sense. This chapter discusses one aspect of this problem, since no consideration in favor of the Frege–Russell view of proper names has seemed more conclusive than the fact that names can sometimes be empty—that, for example, they can occur in fiction. Also, even if they do in fact refer, it is intelligible to raise the question of whether the alleged referent really exists.

Keywords: proper names; ordinary names; Putnam; Mill; Frege; Russell; reference

Chapter.  12963 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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