Louis deRosset - 'The Social Determinants of Reference'

Louis deRosset will give a talk titled 'The Social Determinants of Reference'. It is based on this paper.


The causal-historical theory of reference offers a plausible answer to the question of what it is in virtue of which a particular use of a name refers to a particular thing. A famous problem for causal-historical views involves accounting for reference switch. In this paper, I propose a solution to this problem. Briefly, the solution is to recognize an element of deference even in original uses of a name. We are accustomed to recognizing deference in derived uses of a name: my use of `Peter', for instance, refers to a particular apostle partly in virtue of the referential successes of other members of my community. The extension of this idea to the case of original uses is less familiar. Despite its unfamiliarity, I will urge the view that an original use of a name may, and sometimes does, refer to a particular individual in virtue of the linguistic conventions governing the originator's linguistic community together with the referential successes of other members of that community. This may seem a somewhat incredible view. But it emerges naturally from a consideration of certain other puzzles that have not, I think, gotten the discussion they deserve.

Published Jan. 13, 2020 10:37 PM - Last modified Feb. 19, 2020 3:05 PM