There is no Such Thing as Reference Failure

Xiaoqiang Han

Abstract



I argue that the idea of reference failure which is frequently mentioned and
occasionally argued for in the recent philosophy of language literature is a
misnomer at best and incoherent when taken seriously. In the first place,
there is no such thing as an empty name or name that fails to name anything,
where names are understood as not replaceable by descriptions. In the case
of demonstrative reference, because the speaker‘s perception fixes the
referent and the speaker‘s referential intention is not formed prior to the
fixation of the referent, reference is guaranteed. My argument is based on
an analysis of the alleged cases of reference failure.

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