The subtle lives of descriptive names

Imogen Dickie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This paper develops a radical alternative to standard accounts of descriptive names. A ‘descriptive name’ is a singular term introduced by a stipulation of form ┌Let α‎ refer to the Ψ‎┐. It is shown that—contrary to standard views—the reference-fixing mechanism for a descriptive name is not satisfactional. §1 argues for a background view of reference-fixing for ordinary language singular terms. §2 shows how this view generates a non-satisfactional account of reference-fixing for descriptive names. §3 explores the implications of the discussion in §§1–2 for the possibility of descriptively mediated singular thought. §4 argues for a new account of what speaker and hearer are committed to when the speaker makes and the hearer accepts a ┌Let α‎ refer to the Ψ‎┐ stipulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Philosophy of Language
EditorsErnie Lepore, David Sosa
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198836568
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Philosophy of Language
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)


  • Descriptive names
  • Reference
  • Singular thought
  • Reference-fixing mechanism
  • Singular terms


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