Event Detail

Fri Jan 23, 2015
Howison Library, 5–7 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Michael Rieppel (UC Berkeley)
Names, Masks, and Double Vision

The behavior of proper names in belief contexts is notoriously bedeviling. Frege’s Puzzle about the nonsubstitutability of coreferring names is the classic example. A more recent source of trouble is Cumming’s (2008) Masked Ball scenario, which suggests that names participate in something akin to the de re/de dicto ambiguity. Cumming argues that this phenomenon undermines the “Millian” view of names as rigid designators, and that we should instead treat names as variables. In this talk I adopt a different tack, and instead take the Masked Ball as an occasion to revisit the nature of the de re/de dicto distinction itself. I argue that given an adequate treatment of that distinction, the Millian can accommodate the Masked Ball data. This is not to say that there may not yet be reasons for going “variabilist”, however: if we pair my semantics with a variabilist treatment of names it also gives us a way to resolve Frege’s Puzzle.