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- From: Miles Sabin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 10:06:09 +0100
Gregg Reynolds wrote,
> Okay, you guys got my philosophical homunculus in an
> uproar. He insists that I splutter thusly:
> You should quote, not only the names "Clark Kent" and
> "Superman", but all others as well. The question is
> perhaps more fruitfully stated as "how can we
> determine that two names have the same denotation".
> The classic example is: the names "Sir Walter Scott"
> and "the author of Waverly" have the same denotation,
> whether anybody knows it or not (although they may
> have different senses). But we can't directly talk
> about any denotation; we can only use names.
I disagree. Clark Kent and Superman _might_ be special
cases, because they're fictional characters, but even
there it's dubious.
As far as Scott and the author of Waverly are concerned,
tho', you're dead wrong. We can meaningfully ask,
Is Scott the author of Waverly.
and we can also meaningfully ask,
Does "Scott" denote (in English) the same
person denoted (in English) by "the author of
These are _different_ questions. The first is about
Scott (and would also be about the author of Waverly if
that were a different person). The second is primarily
about the use of names in English. It's a classic
use/mention, de dicto/de re thing.
Miles Sabin Cromwell Media
Internet Systems Architect 5/6 Glenthorne Mews
+44 (0)181 410 2230 London, W6 0LJ
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