Sanford C. Goldberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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In the nineteen sixties and seventies a new view began to emerge, first in the philosophy of language, then subsequently in the philosophy of mind, having to do originally with the theory of reference. Prior to this time, and in accordance with a particular (not uncontested) reading of Frege, it had been common to assume that who or what one was referring to, when one used a linguistic expression to refer to someone or something, was determined by the satisfaction of certain criteria. The criteria in question were assumed to derive either from the meanings of one's expression, or from the cognitive significance that speakers attached to that expression, or perhaps from the referential intentions speakers have in mind as they purported to refer. But in the sixties and seventies various authors began to question this satisfaction-theoretic conception of reference determination.There were two main sources of dissatisfaction. One is a dissatisfaction with the implications of the satisfaction-theoretic conception for modal logic. As both Ruth Barcan Marcus and Saul Kripke were to recognize, the view that reference proceeds by satisfaction appears to have unacceptable implications for the semantics of sentences involving proper names (and other referring expressions). The other source of dissatisfaction has to do with the overly intellectualist (and individualistic) assumptions of the satisfaction-theoretic conception. If that conception were correct, using an expression to refer would require a speaker to have identifying knowledge of the referent, and to be disposed to express this knowledge by using the referring expression itself. Many theorists argued that these conditions are not jointly satisfied in some cases; illustrations included cases in which the expressions themselves were common names with standard references (Kripke 1972, Evans 1973), natural kind terms (Putnam 1975), definite descriptions used in a referential way (Donnellan 1966), or demonstratives (Kaplan 1975, 1979; Evans 1975, 1979). Thus began the so-called “externalist” revolution in the philosophy of language. In place of the satisfaction-theoretic conception of reference determination, various authors proposed “causal” or “historical” theories of reference, on which reference determination proceeds by way of the causal or historical antecedents of the use of a given expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationExternalism, self-knowledge, and skepticism:New essays
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781107478152
ISBN (Print)9781107063501
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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