•  1096
    Concepts without boundaries
    In Rosanna Keefe & Peter Smith (eds.), Vagueness: A Reader, Mit Press. pp. 186-205. 1996.
  •  749
    A puzzle about how things look
    In Mm Mccabe & Mark Textor (eds.), Perspectives on Perception, . 2008.
    Differently illuminated, things in one sense look different, but in another sense look the same.
  •  689
    Reference Without Referents
    Clarendon Press. 2005.
    Reference is a central topic in philosophy of language, and has been the main focus of discussion about how language relates to the world. R. M. Sainsbury sets out a new approach to the concept, which promises to bring to an end some long-standing debates in semantic theory. Lucid and accessible, and written with a minimum of technicality, Sainsbury's book also includes a useful historical survey. It will be of interest to those working in logic, mind, and metaphysics as well as essential readin…Read more
  •  579
    The essence of reference
    In Ernest Lepore & Barry Smith (eds.), he Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Language, Oxford University Press. 2008.
    People use words and concepts to refer to things. There are agents who refer, there are acts of referring, and there are tools to refer with: words and concepts. Reference is a relation between people and things, and also between words or concepts and things, and perhaps it involves all three things at once. It is not just any relation between an action or word and a thing; the list of things which can refer, people, words and concepts, is probably not complete ; and a complete account would nee…Read more
  •  544
    The paper argues that intensional phenomena can be explained without appealing to "exotic" entities: one that don't exist, are merely possible, or are essentially abstract.
  •  493
    Two ways to smoke a cigarette
    Ratio 14 (4). 2001.
    In the early part of the paper, I attempt to explain a dispute between two parties who endorse the compositionality of language but disagree about its implications: Paul Horwich, and Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore. In the remainder of the paper, I challenge the thesis on which they are agreed, that compositionality can be taken for granted. I suggest that it is not clear what compositionality involves nor whether it obtains. I consider some kinds of apparent counterexamples, and compositionalist …Read more
  •  367
    Understanding as immersion
    Philosophical Issues 16 (1). 2006.
    Understanding has often been regarded as a kind of knowledge. This paper argues that this view is very implausible for understanding words. Instead, a proper account will be of the “analytic-genetic” variety: it will describe immersion in the practice of using a word in such a way that even those not previously equipped with the concepts the word expresses can become immersed. Meeting this condition requires attention to findings in developmental psychology. If you understand a declarative utter…Read more
  •  354
    Representing unicorns: how to think about intensionality
    In G. Currie, P. Kotatko & M. Pokorny (eds.), Mimesis: Metaphysics, Cognition, Pragmatics, College Publications. 2012.
    The paper focuses on two apparent paradoxes arising from our use of intensional verbs: first, their object can be something which does not exist, i.e. something which is nothing; second, the fact that entailment from a qualified to a non-qualified object is not guaranteed. In this paper, I suggest that the problems share a solution, insofar as they arise in connection with intensional verbs that ascribe mental states. The solution turns on (I) a properly intensional or nonrelational notion of re…Read more
  •  304
    The review praises the philosophical quality, but is less enthusiastic about the scholarship and historical accuracy.
  •  291
    'Of course there are fictional characters'
    Revue Internationale de Philosophie 262 (4): 615-40. 2012.
    There is no straightforward inference from there being fictional characters to any interesting form of realism. One reason is that “fictional” may be an intensional operator with wide scope, depriving the quantifier of its usual force. Another is that not all uses of “there are” are ontologically committing. A realist needs to show that neither of these phenomena are present in “There are fictional characters”. Other roads to realism run into difficulties when negotiating the role that presuppos…Read more
  •  277
    one hand, it raises fundamental doubts about the Davidsonian project, which seems to involve isolating specifically semantic knowledge from any other knowledge or skill in a way reflected by the ideal of homophony. Indexicality forces a departure from this ideal, and so from the aspiration of deriving the truth conditions of an arbitrary utterance on the basis simply of axioms which could hope to represent purely semantic knowledge. In defence of Davidson, I argue that once his original idea for…Read more
  •  244
    Fiction and Fictionalism
    Routledge. 2009.
    Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract art…Read more
  •  179
    Spotty scope
    Analysis 66 (1): 17-22. 2006.
  •  127
    Easy possibilities
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4): 907-919. 1997.
  •  97
    Why the World Cannot be Vague
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (S1): 63-81. 1995.
  •  88
    Russell on Acquaintance
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 20 219-244. 1986.
    In Russell's Problems of Philosophy , acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
  •  87
    The Same Name
    Erkenntnis 80 (S2): 195-214. 2015.
    When are two tokens of a name tokens of the same name? According to this paper, the answer is a matter of the historical connections between the tokens. For each name, there is a unique originating event, and subsequent tokens are tokens of that name only if they derive in an appropriate way from that originating event. The conditions for a token being a token of a given name are distinct from the conditions for preservation of the reference of a name. Hence a name may change its reference. Defe…Read more
  •  86
    What is a vague object?
    Analysis 49 (3): 99-103. 1989.
  •  85
    Names, fictional names, and 'really'
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1). 1999.
    [R. M. Sainsbury] Evans argued that most ordinary proper names were Russellian: to suppose that they have no bearer is to suppose that they have no meaning. The first part of this paper addresses Evans's arguments, and finds them wanting. Evans also claimed that the logical form of some negative existential sentences involves 'really' (e.g. 'Hamlet didn't really exist'). One might be tempted by the view, even if one did not accept its Russellian motivation. However, I suggest that Evans gives no…Read more
  •  84
    Logical Forms explains both the detailed problems involved in finding logical forms and also the theoretical underpinnings of philosophical logic. In this revised edition, exercises are integrated throughout the book. The result is a genuinely interactive introduction which engages the reader in developing the argument. Each chapter concludes with updated notes to guide further reading
  •  84
    Review: Crispin Wright: Truth and Objectivity (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (4). 1996.
    This belongs to a symposium about Crispin Wright's Truth\nand Objectivity. Wright entertains the "possibility of a\npluralist view of truth." I suggest that this should not\nentail ambiguity in the word "true." For truth to amount to\ndifferent things for different kinds of subject matter no\nmore entails ambiguity than does the fact that existence\namounts to different things for different kinds of entity.\nTurning to cognitive command, I argue that it is trivially\nsatisfied: if I judge that p…Read more
  •  81
    Benevolence and evil
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 58 (2). 1980.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  78
    Rejoinder to Rasmussen
    Analysis 44 (3). 1984.
  •  77
  •  75
    Fiction and Acceptance-Relative Truth, Belief and Assertion
    In Franck Lihoreau (ed.), Truth in Fiction, Ontos Verlag. pp. 38--137. 2011.
  •  73
    What logic should we think with?: R. M. Sainsbury
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 51 1-17. 2002.
    Logic ought to guide our thinking. It is better, more rational, more intelligent to think logically than to think illogically. Illogical thought leads to bad judgment and error. In any case, if logic had no role to play as a guide to thought, why should we bother with it? The somewhat naïve opinions of the previous paragraph are subject to attack from many sides. It may be objected that an activity does not count as thinking at all unless it is at least minimally logical, so logic is constitutiv…Read more