Volume 19, Issue 3, 2019
Speaker’s Reference, Semantic Reference, and the Gricean Project
Some Notes from a Non-Believer
In this paper, I focus on the alleged distinction between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. I begin by discussing Saul Kripke’s notion of speaker’s reference and the theoretical roles it is supposed to play, arguing that they do not justify the claim that reference comes in two different sorts and highlighting that Kripke’s own definition makes the notion incompatible with the nowadays widely endorsed Gricean project, which aims at explaining semantic reference in terms of speaker’s reference. I then examine an alternative account of speaker’s reference offered by Michael Devitt within his causal theory and express some doubts about its suitability for explaining proper name semantic reference. From all this, I conclude that there is at least some tension between Kripke’s chain of communication picture and the attempt to explain (Griceanly, so to say) semantic properties in terms of speakers’ mental states.