Donnellan’s Blocks

John Perry

in Having in Mind

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844845
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933501 | DOI:
Donnellan’s Blocks

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The name “Jacob Horn” comes from the book The Horn Papers (1945), published and apparently written by William Horn of Topeka, Kansas. He presented this book to the public as if it were the newly discovered diary of an eighteenth-century American, his great-great-great-grandfather. Scholars eventually concluded that it was a hoax, and it is assumed that the scholars were right, and that Jacob Horn does not exist and never did. Now consider these statements: (1) Jacob Horn does not exist. (2) Jacob Horn exists. (3) Jacob Horn was an important person in colonial America. (1) is true. (2) and (3) are false. This chapter uses a so-called reflexive-referential theory to extend Donnellan’s ideas to provide an account not only of the truth-conditions of (1) and (2), but also an account of their content—what one says with (1) and (2), and what one says generally with statements like (3) that involve empty names, and what the participants in a debate about existence, like the scholars who poured over The Horn Papers, are saying to one another.

Keywords: Keith Donnellan; Jacob Horn; The Horn Papers; reflexive-referential theory; truth-conditions; empty names; existence

Chapter.  10818 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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