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Our example, recall, was Strawson, who denied the meaningfulness of names (he would not even grant them a rule of use), yet thought their reference was determined by a cluster of identifying descriptions.

Finally, the cluster could comprise influences from meaning alongside influences from use, with the rule for adjudicating conflict, in part, deciding between factors of those different types.

It may mean: the Israelites did not have a single leader when they withdrew from Egyptor: their leader was not called Mosesor: there cannot have been anyone who accomplished all that the Bible relates of Mosesor etc. The three alternatives he outlines (while being clear they are not exhaustive) describe different kinds of situation in which we might well agree that Moses did not exist.

While one could claim that the sentence is ambiguous, with an interpretation analyzed in each of these ways at least, this is not what Wittgenstein has in mind.

Instead, we must treat his alternatives in the manner already suggested for the components of a cluster theory: as conditions that are neither strictly necessary nor inevitably sufficient, but which instead count as factors in favor of the nonexistence claim, interacting with an open-ended set of other factors both for and against.

Generally speaking, the point of a singular negative existential cannot be to make a (false) claim about a certain individual, referred to by the singular term in the subject position, to the effect that that individual does not exist. We are able to state the condition under which (6) is true as: While (7) is an accurate statement of the truth condition of (6), it may not be the truth condition we get when we put together the semantic contributions of the parts.

If a claim involving an empty name has a truth condition at all, it would have to be a condition that, like (7), incorporates the condition that determines reference, rather than one that, like (8), incorporates the referent itself. But Wittgenstein has drawn our attention to negative existentials, and we do have a grip on the sort of situations in which they would turn out to be true.

Now suppose, for a moment, we agree with Davidson (1967) that (i) when we state the truth condition of a sentence in the right way, we give its semantic value. If the truth condition of (9a) cannot be stated as (9c), then that leaves (9b) as the remaining candidate for the semantic value of the sentence. So, one could distinguish the (compositional) semantic value of a sentence from its truth condition. This is the approach of Donnellan (1974: 25), for whom the compositional semantic value of an uttered sentence is the proposition that it expressesnot quite its truth condition.

While the utterance is true if that proposition holds and false if it fails to hold, Donnellan also thinks it may be true or false even if no proposition is generated. Metalinguistic analyses of nonexistence statements face certain objections. The truth condition could then replace parochial reference to language with reference to sense.

We will now turn to a consideration of such a metalinguistic account of the meaning of names. In this case, the condition that serves for identification in context is not specific enough to determine the referent outrightthere are of course many red things in existence other than the one I refer to.

As referring expressions, names can be seen to work in a similar way (compare Gray 2014: 216). This suggests that names might have a compositional semantics just like that of a definite description, where the determiner meaning combines with a property contributed by the nominal complement to generate the meaning of the overall phrase. On the other hand, the metalinguistic property attributed to the proper nominal appears superfluous in accounting for the way a name identifies its referent to the audience.

It is a familiar point that we should think twice before attributing to meaning an inference that requires nothing more than common sense (Grice 1975). One way of explicating having a name spelled A-l-i-c-e is to say that there is a linguistic itema specific name with that spellingreferring to one. Thus (12) says in effect that there are two individuals in the class referred to by such a name. This would be consistent with an account on which specific names (unlike proper nominals occurring in contexts like (12)) do not have a meaning, their reference being determined by use instead.

More generally, this explication treats the reference of specific names as the more basic notion, and the predicate meaning of the proper nominal as defined in terms of such reference. To think of names (not nominals) as having a metalinguistic meaning which then (partially) determines their reference, reverses this picture.

Instead of the metalinguistic meaning being explicated in terms of the reference of names, the reference of names would be explained with the help of the metalinguistic meaning. To avoid a theory in which the explanation goes in a circle, the metalinguistic predicate having a name spelled A-l-i-c-e must be explicated in terms other than those of the reference of names. Fortunately, we already have the materials at hand to see how this could go. Back in Section 2.

It would be quite natural to interpret a metalinguistic predicate as applying to someone on the basis of a pattern of attributions of a name, rather than on that of reference to them using that name. Even if name attribution is not the right way to ground metalinguistic predicates, any use theory, in attempting to explain the reference of a name in terms of (distinct) features of its use, will have to employ something of the sort.

In that sense, use theories and metalinguistic theories are in the same boat. The decision whether to grant a metalinguistic meaning to names appears to come down to what is basic and what is generated in the semantic theory.

If the meaning of a name is generated from the metalinguistic meaning of the constituent proper nominal, then names will accordingly have a metalinguistic meaning (most likely in the form of a rule of use). This is surely too quick; a nominal predicate, though semantically basic, would still count as a natural expression of the metalinguistic property it denotes (see Johnson 2018), and the naturalness of the choice could explain the prevalence of the convention across languages and its ease of uptake.

However, unless those basic resources include the references of names (and Gray 2017 argues that this is hardly a promising route), the metalinguistic theory is welcome to adopt the same thrift. I will go over a little of the linguistic data that has appeared so far in the debate.

Much of this data would appear, out of context, as the sheerest minutia. But the fate of what has recently been regarded as the best prospect for assigning a meaning to a proper name comes down to the interpretation of these details. Firstly, a problem arises for the metalinguistic account when the name includes an overt determiner (Cumming 2007: 22).

Furthermore, despite the fact that this borough is called the Bronx, we do not refer to it using an expression that combines a phrase that expresses this metalinguistic property with a definite determiner, as the compositional theory would predict.

The George Washington Bridge also happens to be called George Washington Bridgein the sense that people also refer to it this way (and attribute the name sans article to it). But this appears an accident of naming, rather than a vindication of the compositional view. The World Cup is not, properly speaking, called (just) World Cup; the Eiffel Tower is not called Eiffel Tower (the way Sears Tower is); the Mona Lisa is not called Mona Lisa (though its subject, Lisa del Giocondo, was; and interestingly, we would say that the painting is titled Mona Lisa).

The situation is different if we confine our attention to personal names. As mentioned earlier, in many languages outside English, personal names come with a (definite) determiner. A problem remains even for a curtailed version of the metalinguistic view on which it applies only to personal names. It can be brought out with data from English. It is used when the possession of the relevant metalinguistic property is particularly prominent.

For instance, when sorting people into groups based on their names, or collecting examples of people with a particular name (Jeshion 2017: 235; Gray 2017: 452).