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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 1, 2016

Chen Bo
Pages 45-67

Socio-historical Causal Descriptivism
A Hybrid and Alternative Theory of Names

This paper argues for a hybrid and alternative theory of names—Socio-historical Causal Descriptivism, which consists of six claims: (1) the referring relation between a name and an object originates from a generalized “initial baptism” of that object. (2) The causal chain of the name N firstly and mainly transmits informative descriptions of N’s bearer. (3) The meaning of N consists of an open-ended collection of informative descriptions of N’s bearer acknowledged by a linguistic community. (4) With respect to practical needs of agents there is s weighted order in the collection of descriptions of N’s bearer. (5) The meaning or even partial meaning of N, together with the background of a discourse, the network of knowledge, speaker’s intention, etc., determines the referent of N. (6) All names have their own referents, including physical individuals, and parasitic, fictional, or intensional objects; there are few names absolutely without reference.