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Essays on Reference, Language, and Mind$
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Keith Donnellan, Joseph Almog, and Paolo Leonardi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199857999

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199857999.001.0001

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Proper Names and Identifying Descriptions

Proper Names and Identifying Descriptions

Chapter:
(p.48) [3] Proper Names and Identifying Descriptions
Source:
Essays on Reference, Language, and Mind
Author(s):

Keith Donnellan

Joseph Almog

Paolo Leonardi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199857999.003.0003

This chapter discusses the principle of identifying descriptions and how it works. The principle states that the user of a proper name must be able to supply a set of identifying descriptions. It also states that the referent of a proper name is that object that uniquely fits enough number of the descriptions in the set of identifying descriptions. It studies Peter Strawson's claim that a name is worthless without a backing of descriptions. It also argues that a proper name may have a referent even though the conditions laid down by the principle are not satisfied and where the conditions are satisfied, the object that should be the referent according to the principle needs not be the true referent.

Keywords:   identifying descriptions, proper names, Peter Strawson, backing of descriptions, reference

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