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Kent Bach

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198240778

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240778.001.0001

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Singular Terms in Belief and in Fictional Contexts

Singular Terms in Belief and in Fictional Contexts

(p.195) 10 Singular Terms in Belief and in Fictional Contexts
Thought and Reference

Kent Bach

Oxford University Press

One of the themes of this book is that the notion of denotation is tangential to the semantics of singular terms. This thesis has been supported by defending Russell's theory of descriptions, by developing a version of the description theory of names, and by arguing that pronouns do not denote, not even relatively to contexts of utterance. This chapter suggests that occurrences of singular terms in belief (or other attitude) contexts do not pose the problems that arise for those views that rely on the notion of denotation. The account of the occurrence of singular terms in such contexts will be rather straightforward. That will not prevent it from being controversial, however, for the distinction between referentially transparent and opaque occurrences will be interpreted pragmatically. The theoretical benefit of drawing this distinction at the level of speaker intention rather than of sentence grammar is that, contrary to popular opinion, belief sentences are not systematically ambiguous. As for occurrences of singular terms in fictional contexts, in the final section a pragmatic account will be given of them as well.

Keywords:   belief sentences, names, denotation, semantics, fictional contexts

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