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Title: Empty names
Author: Bench-Capon, Michael G. T.
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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Empty names are names which do not refer to anything. Apparently empty names are used in many different ways, and an analysis which looks good for one kind of use can look bad for another. I aim to get a wide enough angle on the issues that the solutions I propose won’t run into that problem. Chapter one is about names which are empty because they were introduced in the context of mistakes and lies. I see how we can assign truth values to utterances containing such names. I also look at how genuinely empty names could be meaningful at all, and examine how they could fit into a Davidsonian theory of meaning. Chapter two is about mental states corresponding to the names dealt with in chapter one. I try to give an account of how beliefs could be subject to rational norms without appealing to their propositional contents. I do this by showing that puzzles about co-referring names can motivate such an account independently, and that the empty name beliefs can fit into this framework easily. Chapter three is about attitude ascriptions and propositions. I consider different ways of responding to the problem of having propositions but no objects for the propositions to be about. I defend an account involving gappy Fregean propositions, and give a semantics for attitude ascriptions which incorporates them. Chapter four is about the names that occur in fiction. I argue that we should take these to be polysemous between a use referring to an artistic creation and a use primarily suited to pretence. For the first use, I survey proposals for ontologies of fictional characters, and suggest one of my own. To make sense of the second use, I use a two- dimensional semantics, which also helps with the problem of negative existentials.
Supervisor: McGonigal, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available