MDR theory and the problems posed by nonreferring names
I begin by explaining the MDR theory by which I mean Millianism, Direct reference theory, and the theory of Russellian structured proposition. In the first chapter, I have also discussed what nonreferring names are and some of the problems nonreferring names pose for MDR theory, namely the problem of no proposition expressed, the problem of nonsense, the truth-value problem, the problem of the proposition believed, and the problem of differing cognitive values. All these problems arise for MDR theory because of the claim that the sole semantic content of a name is its referent (if any), and nothing else; and on the basis of these problems, one can reject MDR theory. In order to understand which names are genuinely nonreferring and how serious the problems of nonreferring names are for MDR theory, in the second chapter, I have discussed different versions of the theory of abstract artifacts. I close this chapter with the conclusion that along with the other genuinely nonreferring names, some uses of the names like ‘Alice’ and ‘Vulcan’ are also genuinely nonreferring; and hence, a proper solution is required that can solve the problems nonreferring names pose for a semantic theory like MDR theory. In the last chapter, I have examined a proposition-based solution, namely gappy propositions theory, to solve the problems, which later turns out insufficient as it cannot solve the problem of differing cognitive values. At the end of this chapter, I have presented a rough sketch of a theory that can replace MDR theory without encountering the problems posed by nonreferring names. In this proposed theory, I claim that every name has a semantic content, which is not its referent. I further suggest that the semantic content of a name is its nondescriptive sense attached to it and that every name comes with it regardless of the name’s referential status. This proposed theory does not encounter any of the above-mentioned problems nonreferring names pose for MDR theory.
Philosophy, Philosophy of Language