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I am reading "The Varieties of Reference" by Gareth Evans and there is that term "genuine singular term". I know what a singular term is but when is it "genuine"?

Does someone have an idea?

  • The word "genuine" appears to be used in a special way by Evans. I don't have the book. For context, could you quote Evan's definition of "genuine" and a typical complete sentence where "genuine singular term" appears. Welcome to this SE! +1 – Frank Hubeny Sep 11 '18 at 11:51
  • @FrankHubeny I searched the book and read very accurately, but I could not find a passage that contains a clear definition of "genuine singular term". But on page 31 Evans wrote "although I should (and shall) defend the idea that there are many kinds of singular term (paradigmatically, genuine demonstratives) [...]" I take that for now, what do you think? – Chris Pillen Sep 26 '18 at 8:46
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See Gottlob Frege's Sense and reference :

It is clear from the context that by sign and name I have here understood any designation figuring as a proper name, which thus has as its meaning a definite object (this word taken in the widest range), but not a concept or a relation, which shall be discussed further in another article. The designation of a single object can also consist of several words or other signs [see example : "the point of intersection of a and b"]. For brevity, let every such designation be called a proper name.

In footnote, Frege refers to :

In the case of an actual proper name such as 'Aristotle' ...

In some texts "actual" proper names has been called "genuine" proper names. See e.g.

Frege’s footnote makes clear that this is not how things are in natural language for genuine proper names: "In the case of an actual proper name such as ‘Aristotle’ ..."


See also A.N. Whitehead & B. Russell, Principia Mathematica (1910), Introduction, page 64 :

We may, in fact, distinguish names of different orders as follows: (a) Elementary names will be such as are true "proper names," i.e. conventional appellations not involving any description. (b) First-order names will be such as involve a description by means of a first-order function; [...]


See also : Saul Kripke, Reference and Existence : The John Locke Lectures 1973, Oxford UP (2013), page 13 :

Russell would hold that such a name [an "empty" name] does have a sense given by a descriptive phrase. But then, he holds that the things that we ordinarily call ‘names’ aren’t really names, and that we have to leave it to analysis to discover what the genuine [emphasis mine] names really are. One of the criteria that are demanded by this argument to apply to names — genuine names of genuine objects — is that they have to name objects such that we can’t even meaningfully raise the question about whether they exist.

  • +1 thanks. That was my impression either, but I did not find any definition. Evans referred to Kripke and the introduction of a name into the language by some such 'reference-fixing' stipulation as "Let us call whoever invented the zip 'Julius'." and called this a 'descriptive name' (page 31). For now I will interprete the "true 'proper name'" as you quoted them from Principia Mathematica. I claim these are demonstratives ultimatly. What do you think? (Evans: "singular term (paradigmaically, genuine demonstratives)" page 31) – Chris Pillen Sep 26 '18 at 8:38

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