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Beyond RigidityThe Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity$
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Scott Soames

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195145281

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195145283.001.0001

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The Meaning of Names

The Meaning of Names

(p.55) 3 The Meaning of Names
Beyond Rigidity

Scott Soames (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A conception of language use is developed according to which an unambiguous, noncontext‐sensitive sentence may be used to assert and convey more than one proposition in a single context, and different propositions in different contexts, depending on the presuppositions of conversational participants. The meaning of such a sentence in the language of which it is a part – the proposition it semantically expresses – is information that is included in what would be asserted and conveyed by an assertive utterance of it in virtually any normal context in which competent language users speak literally, nonmetaphorically, and without canceling conversational implicatures. On this conception, the meaning of a linguistically simple proper name – that which it contributes to propositions semantically expressed by sentences containing it – is simply its referent. Hence, two sentences that differ only in the substitution of coreferential names mean the same thing, and semantically express the same proposition. Nevertheless, these (synonymous) sentences may frequently be used to assert different things and convey different information.

Keywords:   assertion, context, conversational implicature, meaning, presuppositions, proper names, propositions, synonymy

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