Research

Essentialist Plenitude and the Semantics of Proper Names

Authors:

Abstract

A number of prominent metaphysicians have recently defended a set of ideas which I will call ‘essentialist plenitude.’ Very roughly, and to a first approximation, essentialist plenitude says that wherever there is an object with properties P1, …, Pn there is in fact a plenitude of coincident objects that differ only in the distribution of essentiality and accidentality across P1, …, Pn (§1). The main purpose of this paper is to arouse the suspicion that essentialist plenitude may have far-reaching consequences for the semantics of proper names. More specifically, I will argue that neither descriptivist nor causal theories of proper names work in a plenitude setting (§2). I will close by suggesting that our use of proper names may be thoroughly infected by semantic indecision about which among many coincident objects is referred to (§3).

Keywords:

essentualismplenitudeproper namessemantic indecision
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 16–25
  • DOI: 10.5334/met.19
  • Submitted on 9 Mar 2019
  • Accepted on 19 Aug 2019
  • Published on 25 Sep 2019
  • Peer Reviewed