FOM: Semantics and the problem of reference

Robert Black Robert.Black at
Sun Oct 22 18:29:25 EDT 2000

The disquotational theory of reference has to be true in the sense that if
'set' successfully and determinately refers, then it refers to all and only

The use theory also has to be true in that if 'set' successfully and
determinately refers to all and only sets, this is in virtue of how we use
the word (we could have used it to refer to chickens).

But none of this solves the problem of how (if at all) 'set' manages to
successfully and determinately refer. The causal theory and the implicit
definition theory are theories about how use can make the disquotational
thory true. If they don't work for 'set', and if no other (not necessarily
reductionist) theory works either, then just how does the (obviously true)
use theory make the (obviously true) disquotational theory true? If there's
no answer to this, then there must be a doubt about whether or not 'set'
successfully and determinately refers.

[I think it *does* so refer, but we still need a story as to *how*.]


Robert Black
Dept of Philosophy
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD

tel. 0115-951 5845
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