Predicate Reference

Fraser MacBride

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Predicate Reference


Whether a predicate is a referential expression depends upon what reference is conceived to be. Even if it is granted that reference is a relation between words and worldly items, the referents of expressions being the items to which they are so related, this still leaves considerable scope for disagreement about whether predicates refer. One of Frege's great contributions to the philosophy of language was to introduce an especially liberal conception of reference relative to which it is unproblematic to suppose that predicates are referring expressions. According to this liberal conception, each significant expression in a language has its own distinctive semantic role or power, a power to effect the truth-value of the sentences in which it occurs.

Keywords: referential expression; predicate; wordly items; philosophy of language; liberal conception; truth-value; sentences

Article.  29554 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language

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