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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, 1988/1989

David B. Boersema
Pages 517-538

Is the Descriptivist / Cluster Theory of Reference “Wrong from the Fundamentals”?

In this paper I suggest that Searle’s theory of reference is immune to the specific criticisms that have been levelled against it. I first present an overview of Searle’s “cluster” theory, followed by an overview of the Kripkean critique. I then examine in detail Kripke’s objections and suggest that they are not sufficient for a rejection of Searle’s theory. Finally, I consider several general objections to the cluster theory and argue that they, too, do not suffice to reject it.