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Paper   IPM / Philosophy / 13249
School of Analytic Philosophy
  Title:   Empty Names and Pragmatic Millianism
  Author(s):  Seyed N. Mousavian
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Thought: A Journal of Philosophy
  No.:  1
  Vol.:  3
  Year:  2014
  Pages:   49-58
  Supported by:  IPM
Millianism is the view that the semantic content of a proper name is its semantic referent. Empty names, names with no semantic referents, raise various problems for Millianism. To solve these problems, many have appealed to pragmatics, thus 'Pragmatic Millianism'. Pragmatic Millianism employs the relation of association between names and descriptions as well as some pragmatic processes to substitute empty names with descriptions associated with. The resultant content should account for the intuitions raised by utterances of sentences containing empty names. Here, I will try to argue against this picture: Names are associated with descriptions of different kinds in a number of ways. The complex nature of this relation is overlooked by Pragmatic Millianism. Neither the relation of association nor the pragmatic processes responsible for substituting a description or a cluster of descriptions for an empty name guarantee the fullness of what is pragmatically imparted. The moral is this: Regarding empty names, Pragmatic Millianism should be avoided.

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