LingLang Lunch (4/25/2019): Anna Bjurman Pautz (Brown University)

Anna Bjurman Pautz is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Brown University. Her research focuses on philosophy of language and specifically fictional coreference. For more information, see a brief interview of her here.

Two-dimensionalism and Empty names in Propositional Attitude reports

Two-dimensionalism is no doubt the most interesting development to follow Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. It is interesting with respect to proper names and names of natural kind terms since it combines Frege’s distinction between meaning and reference with Kripke’s views. Chalmers has written extensively on two-dimensionalism and has recently given a detailed account of propositional attitude reports. In this paper I will raise a problem for Chalmers’ account of belief reports. I will argue that empty names are a challenge to Chalmers’ analysis of belief reports.

Granted that there are belief reports with empty names in the subject position of the that-clause, Chalmers’ analysis should assign those belief reports truth values in accordance with our intuitions. Since empty names are names that appear to fail to refer, two-dimensionalism has to be combined with some view about the nature of the semantic values of empty names. I will consider three different views: the semantic value is the empty set, the semantic value is a created abstract object, and the semantic value is assigned in possible worlds considered counterfactually. On the first two views, I think, Chalmers’ analysis of belief reports is false. The third view is, I think, partially successful.