The thesis is concerned with certain problems in the philosophy of singular reference and singular thought. I take as central the following question: What kind of role is to be assigned to non-empty, syntactically simple and used singular terms (e.g. ordinary proper names, demonstratives and other indexicals) in fixing the semantic contents of, or the propositions expressed by, utterances of declarative sentences in which they may occur? My aim is to discuss certain aspects of the current dispute between a directly referential account, which I take as being mainly represented in the Millian version advanced by theorists such as David Kaplan and Nathan Salmon, and a neo-Fregean account, which I take as being mainly represented in the De Re conception of singular senses expounded by theorists such as Gareth Evans and Christopher Peacocke. The aspects in question are related to issues about the cognitive significance of language use, and I single out the following two as crucial: (i)- the Informativeness Problem, i.e. the issue about (alleged) potential differences in informative value between utterances of pairs of sentences constructed out of co-referential singular terms; (ii)- the Substitutivity Problem, i.e. the issue about (alleged) failures of substitutivity salva veritate of co-referential singular terms in propositional-attitude contexts. I pay special attention to "notational variance" arguments which have recently been adduced in both directions. On the neo-Fregean side, the claim has been made that a Millian account of singular reference, in its attempt to accommodate certain facts about cognitive significance, might be regarded as a notational variant of a neo-Fregean account. On the Millian side, the claim has also been made that a neo-Fregean account of indexical reference based upon De Re singular senses might be regarded as a notational variant of a Millian account. The general direction of my arguments is as follows. On the one hand, I argue that the neo-Fregean Notational Variance claim and its Millian counterpart are both unsound (though for different reasons); and hence that one is really confronted with separate theories of singular reference, irreducible to one another. On the other hand, I argue that a Millian account is far from providing us with satisfactory solutions to the problems about cognitive significance mentioned above; and hence that a framework of singular modes of presentation is indispensable to deal with such problems in an adequate way.
João Branquinho é Professor Auxiliar de Filosofia na Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa. As suas áreas de especialização são a filosofia da linguagem, a metafísica, a filosofia da mente, e a lógica filosófica. É membro do Steering Committee da European Society for Analytic Philosophy, organizador de Foundations of Cognitive Science (Oxford University Press, 2001), co-organizador de Enciclopédia de Termos Lógico-Filosóficos (Gradiva, 2001) e autor de diversos artigos publicados em revistas nacionais e internacionais.