Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Evan Simpson
This work provides a theory of singular reference based on the idea that the function of a referring expression is to get an audience to think of some particular item. Although this obvious fact has not escaped anyone's notice, many believe that the considerations associated with this communicatory function do not belong to "semantics" but to "pragmatics". Others regard such considerations as relating to "perlocutionary", as opposed to "illocutionary", effects. By contrast the framework presented, which can be described as "Gricean", puts forward the theory of communication as the primary arena of semantics.I take the view (derived from Wittgenstein) that representation is to be explained in terms of agency.
Starting from a simple condition for paradigm acts of reference, the theory is developed by considering three areas of contemporary concern: names, definite descriptions and intentional contexts. While the "cluster" theory is upheld as an insight into the problem of determining the conventional bearer of a name, it is conceded that names function semantically in a manner postulated by Mill. Donnellan's distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions is redrawn; unlike recent accounts of this distinction, the account proposed represents the distinction as a sharp one. The account of intentional contexts introduces an approach which exploits the Gricean model for analyzing a speaker's strategy. This approach differs significantly from other published accounts of intentional contexts.
Maw, Richard Cheverton, "An Agent-Semantical Theory of Reference" (1983). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1434.