•  613
    John Stuart Mill (1843) thought that proper names denote individuals and do not connote attributes. Contemporary Millians agree, in spirit. We hold that the semantic content of a proper name is simply its referent. We also think that the semantic content of a declarative sentence is a Russellian structured proposition whose constituents are the semantic contents of the sentence’s constituents. This proposition is what the sentence semantically expresses. Therefore, we think that sentences contai…Read more
  •  379
    Empty names
    Noûs 27 (4): 449-469. 1993.
    This paper presents a theory of empty names that is consistent with direct-reference theory and Millianism.
  •  260
    Understanding belief reports
    Philosophical Review 107 (4): 555-595. 1998.
    In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context).…Read more
  •  213
    Kripke’s Revenge
    with Theodore Sider
    Philosophical Studies 128 (3): 669-682. 2006.
    Kripke's objections to descriptivism may be modified to apply to Scott Soames's pragmatic account from his book Beyond Rigidity. Further, intuitions about argument-validity threaten any theory in the vicinity of Soames's.
  •  208
    Complex demonstratives and their singular contents
    Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (1): 57-99. 2008.
    This paper presents a semantic and pragmatic theory of complex demonstratives. According to this theory, the semantic content of a complex demonstrative, in a context, is simply an object, and the semantic content of a sentence that contains a complex demonstrative, in a context, is a singular proposition. This theory is defended from various objections to direct reference theories of complex demonstratives, including King's objection from quantification into complex demonstratives.
  •  205
    We use names to talk about objects. We use predicates to talk about properties and relations. We use sentences to attribute properties and relations to objects. We say things when we utter sentences, often things we believe
  •  183
    Vague, So Untrue
    Noûs 41 (2). 2007.
    According to an old and attractive view, vagueness must be eliminated before semantic notions — truth, implication, and so on — may be applied. This view was accepted by Frege, but is rarely defended nowadays.1 This..
  •  169
    Simple sentences, substitutions, and mistaken evaluations
    Philosophical Studies 111 (1). 2002.
    Many competent speakers initially judge that (i) is true and (ii) isfalse, though they know that (iii) is true. (i) Superman leaps more tallbuildings than Clark Kent. (ii) Superman leaps more tall buildings thanSuperman. (iii) Superman is identical with Clark Kent. Semanticexplanations of these intuitions say that (i) and (ii) really can differin truth-value. Pragmatic explanations deny this, and say that theintuitions are due to misleading implicatures. This paper argues thatboth explanations a…Read more
  •  167
    Indexicals
    In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, . 2012.
    Indexicals are linguistic expressions whose reference shifts from context to context: some paradigm examples are ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘now’, ‘today’,‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘that’. Two speakers who utter a single sentence that contains an indexical may say different things. For instance, Fred and Wilma say different things when they utter the sentence ‘I am female’. Many philosophers (following David Kaplan 1989a) hold that indexicals have two sorts of meaning. The first sort of meaning is often called ‘charac…Read more
  •  167
    Demonstratives and their linguistic meanings
    Noûs 30 (2): 145-173. 1996.
    In this paper, I present a new semantics for demonstratives. Now some may think that David Kaplan (1989a,b) has already given a more than satisfactory semantics for demonstratives, and that there is no need for a new one. But I argue below that Kaplan's theory fails to describe the linguistic meanings of 'that' and other true demonstratives. My argument for this conclusion has nothing to do with cognitive value, belief sentences, or other such contentious matters in semantics and the philosophy …Read more
  •  150
    What is character?
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 24 (3): 241--273. 1995.
    David Kaplan distinguishes between character and content in his theory of demonstratives and indexicals. This paper argues that David Kaplan's theory of demonstratives contains two different, incompatible, descriptions of what character is. It argues that one of them is superior. It argues that, ultimately, a theory of indexicals needs a theory of structured characters.
  •  149
    Now you know who Hong oak yun is
    Philosophical Issues 16 (1): 24-42. 2006.
    Hong Oak Yun is a person who is over three inches tall. And now you know who Hong Oak Yun is. For if someone were to ask you ‘Who is Hong Oak Yun?’, you could answer that Hong Oak Yun is a person who is over three inches tall, and you would know what you were saying. So you know an answer to the question ‘Who is Hong Oak Yun?’, and that is sufficient for knowing who Hong Oak Yun is. Getting to know who a person is may be easier than you think.
  •  146
    Names and natural kind terms
    In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford University Press. pp. 490--515. 2006.
    Names and natural kind terms have long been a major focus of debates about meaning and reference. This article discusses some of the theories and arguments that have appeared in those debates. It is remarkably difficult to say what names are without making controversial theoretical assumptions. This article does not attempt to do so here. It instead relies on paradigm examples that nearly all theorists would agree are proper names, for instance, ‘Aristotle’, ‘Mark Twain’, ‘London’, ‘Venus’, and …Read more
  •  144
    Desiring, desires, and desire ascriptions
    Philosophical Studies 172 (1): 141-162. 2015.
    Delia Graff Fara maintains that many desire ascriptions underspecify the content of the relevant agent’s desire. She argues that this is inconsistent with certain initially plausible claims about desiring, desires, and desire ascriptions. This paper defends those initially plausible claims. Part of the defense hinges on metaphysical claims about the relations among desiring, desires, and contents
  •  143
    Russellianism and Explanation
    Noûs 35 (s15): 253-289. 2001.
    Many philosophers think that the Substitution Objection decisively refutes Russellianism. This objection claims that sentences (1) and (2) can differ in truth value. Therefore, it says, the sentences express different propositions, and so Russellianism is false.
  •  142
    This paper presents a number of objections to Jeffrey King's quantificational theory of complex demonstratives. Some of these objections have to do with modality, whereas others concern attitude ascriptions. Various possible replies are considered. The debate between quantificational theorists and direct reference theorists over complex demonstratives is compared with recent debates concerning definite descriptions
  •  134
    Russellianism and psychological generalizations
    Noûs 34 (2): 203-236. 2000.
    (1) Harry believes that Twain is a writer. (2) Harry believes that Clemens is a writer. I say that this is Russellianism's most notorious consequence because it is so often used to argue against the view: many philosophers think that it is obvious that (1) and (2) can differ in truth value, and so they conclude that Russellianism is false. Let's call this the Substitution Objection to Russellianism.
  •  124
    Illogical, but rational
    Noûs 40 (2). 2006.
    Stephen Schiffer says that Nathan Salmon and I are committed to the special-case consequence. He also says that it is possible for - to be true
  •  119
    Structured characters and complex demonstratives
    Philosophical Studies 74 (2): 193--219. 1994.
    A structured character is a semantic value of a certain sort. Like the more familiar Kaplanian characters, structured characters determine the contents of expressions in contexts. But unlike Kaplanian characters, structured characters also have constituent structures. The semantic theories with which most of us are acquainted do not mention structured characters. But I argue in this paper that these familiar semantic theories fail to make obvious distinctions in meaning---distinctions that can b…Read more
  •  115
    The Objects of Belief and Credence
    Mind 125 (498): 469-497. 2016.
    David Chalmers uses Bayesian theories of credence to argue against referentialism about belief. This paper argues that Chalmers’s Bayesian objections to referentialism are similar to older, more familiar objections to referentialism. There are familiar responses to the old objections, and there is a predictable way to modify those old responses to meet Chalmers’s Bayesian objections. The new responses to the new objections are no less plausible than the old responses to the old objections. Chalm…Read more
  •  110
    Scott Soames. 2002. Beyond rigidity: The unfinished semantic agenda of naming and necessity (review)
    Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (3): 367-379. 2002.
    This excellent book is aptly titled, for in it Scott Soames systematically discusses and greatly extends the semantic views that Saul Kripke presented in Naming and Necessity . As Soames does this, he touches on a wide variety of semantic topics, all of which he treats with his characteristically high degree of clarity, depth, and precision. Anyone who is interested in the semantic issues raised by..
  •  102
    An invariantist theory of 'might' might be right
    Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (6): 461-489. 2012.
    Invariantism about ‘might’ says that ‘might’ semantically expresses the same modal property in every context. This paper presents and defends a version of invariantism. According to it, ‘might’ semantically expresses the same weak modal property in every context. However, speakers who utter sentences containing ‘might’ typically assert propositions concerning stronger types of modality, including epistemic modality. This theory can explain the phenomena that motivate contextualist theories of ep…Read more
  •  98
    Russellianism and prediction
    Philosophical Studies 105 (1). 2001.
    Russellianism (also called `neo-Russellianism, `Millianism, and `thenaive theory') entails that substitution of co-referring names inattitude ascriptions preserves truth value and proposition expressed.Thus, on this view, if Lucy wants Twain to autograph her book, thenshe also wants Clemens to autograph her book, even if she says ``I donot want Clemens to autograph my book''. Some philosophers (includingMichael Devitt and Mark Richard) claim that attitude ascriptions canbe used to predict behavi…Read more
  •  94
    Contextualism about 'might' and says-that ascriptions
    Philosophical Studies 164 (2): 485-511. 2013.
    Contextualism about ‘might’ says that the property that ‘might’ expresses varies from context to context. I argue against contextualism. I focus on problems that contextualism apparently has with attitude ascriptions in which ‘might’ appears in an embedded ‘that’-clause. I argue that contextualists can deal rather easily with many of these problems, but I also argue that serious difficulties remain with collective and quantified says-that ascriptions. Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne atempt to…Read more
  •  93
    Content, causation, and cognitive science
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (4): 375-89. 1991.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  91
    Causally relevant properties
    Philosophical Perspectives 9 (AI, Connectionism and Philosophi): 447-75. 1995.
    In this paper I present an analysis of causal relevance for properties. I believe that most of us are already familiar with the notion of a causally relevant property. But some of us may not recognize it "under that description." So I begin below with some intuitive explanations and some illustrative examples.
  •  90
    Persisting problems for a quantificational theory of complex demonstratives
    Philosophical Studies 141 (2): 243-262. 2008.
    I criticized Jeffrey King’s theory of complex demonstratives in “Problems for a Quantificational Theory of Complex Demonstratives.” King replied in “Complex Demonstratives as Quantifiers: Objections and Replies.” I here comment on some of King’s replies.
  •  79
    Implicating Questions
    Mind and Language 26 (5): 574-595. 2011.
    I modify Grice's theory of conversational implicature so as to accommodate acts of implicating propositions by asking questions, acts of implicating questions by asserting propositions, and acts of implicating questions by asking questions. I describe the relations between a declarative sentence's semantic content (the proposition it semantically expresses), on the one hand, and the propositions that a speaker locutes, asserts, and implicates by uttering that sentence, on the other. I discuss an…Read more
  •  67
    Katz on names without bearers
    Philosophical Review 104 (4): 553-576. 1995.
    Millian theories of proper names say that the meaning of a proper name is just its referent. These theories have an appealing kind of simplicity to them, but they also have an apparently serious problem with names that fail to refer. Consider, for example, sentence.
  •  62
    Invariantism about 'can' and 'may' (as well as 'might')
    Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (2): 181-185. 2013.
    Braun (Linguistics & Philosophy 35, 461–489, 2012) argued for a non- relativist, invariantist theory of ‘might’. Yanovich (Linguistics & Philosophy, 2013) argues that Braun’s theory is inconsistent with certain facts concerning diachronic meaning changes in ‘might’, ‘can’, and ‘may’. This paper replies to Yanovich’s objection