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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 13, Issue 3, Septiembre 1998

Thomas Sattig
Pages 491-501

Proper Name Change

Gareth Evans (1973) adduces a case in which a proper name apparently undergoes a change in referent. ‘Madagascar’ was originally the name of a part of Africa. Marco Polo, erroneously thinking he was following native usage, applied the name to an island off the African coast. Today ‘Madagascar’ is the name of that island. Evans argues that this kind of case threatens Kripke’s picture of naming as developed in Naming and Necessity. According to this picture, the name, as used by Marco Polo, referred to a part of the African mainland, since he was connected to the latter by a historical chain of communication. Since we are historically connected to Marco Polo, the name, as it is used today, still refers to the African mainland. But it doesn’t. The aim of the present paper is to give a conclusive account of the phenomenon adduced by Evans, which is compatible with Kripke’s picture.

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