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date: 13 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Names and natural kind terms have long been a major focus of debates about meaning and reference. This article discusses some of the theories and arguments that have appeared in those debates. It is remarkably difficult to say what names are (more exactly, proper names) without making controversial theoretical assumptions. This article does not attempt to do so here. It instead relies on paradigm examples that nearly all theorists would agree are proper names, for instance, ‘Aristotle’, ‘Mark Twain’, ‘London’, ‘Venus’, and ‘Pegasus’. All of the proper names that are discussed in the article are singular nouns that have no syntactic structure. Most of them refer to objects (for instance, people, cities, and planets), but some, such as ‘Pegasus’, apparently do not. The article begins with proper names and the question ‘What is the meaning of a proper name?’ It turns to natural kind terms later.

Keywords: natural kind terms, names, proper names, singular nouns, syntactic structure, philosophy of language

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