It's Just Semantics: What Fiction Reveals About Proper Names
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Sentences like the following entail puzzles for standard systematic theories about
(1) Bertrand Russell smoked a pipe.
(2) Sherlock Holmes smoked a pipe.
Prima facie, these sentences have the same semantic structure and contain
expressions of the same semantic type; the only difference between them is that
they contain different proper names. Intuitively, (1) and (2) are true, but they are
made true and false, respectively, in different ways. Presumably (1) is true
because the individual, Bertrand Russell, has or had the property of being a pipe
smoker. In contrast, (2) is true for a reason something like this: the sentence
'Holmes smokes a pipe' or an equivalent thereof, or a sentence entailing this
sentence, was inscribed in the Holmes novels by Arthur Conan Doyle (2002).
I show that the existence of fictional names, and the truths uttered using them, are
not adequately explained by any extant account of fictional discourse. A proper
explanation involves giving a semantics for names that can account for both
referential and fictional uses of proper names. To this end, I argue that names
should not be understood as expressions that immediately refer to objects.
Rather, names should be understood as expressions that encode information
about a speaker's act of introducing novel uses for them. Names are not linked to
objects, but to what I call "contexts of introduction". I explain how this allows
room for an explanation of fictional names, and how it also accommodates
Kripkean uses of proper names.