Name-bearing, Reference, and Circularity
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Proponents of the predicate view of names explain the reference of an occurrence of a name N by invoking the property of bearing N. They avoid the charge that this view involves a vicious circularity by claiming that bearing N is not itself to be understood in terms of the reference of actual or possible occurrences of N. I argue that this approach is fundamentally mistaken. The phenomenon of ‘reference transfer’ shows that an individual can come to bear a name in virtue of the referential practices of a group of speakers. I develop a picture of name-bearing which captures this fact by treating the extension of name as a function of the way that extension is represented in the presuppositions of groups of speakers. I show that though there is a form of circularity inherent in this approach, it is not vicious circularity.