There is no Such Thing as Reference Failure

  • Xiaoqiang Han


I argue that the idea of reference failure which is frequently mentioned and occasionally argued for in the recent philosophy of language literature is a misnomer at best and incoherent when taken seriously. In the first place, there is no such thing as an empty name or name that fails to name anything, where names are understood as not replaceable by descriptions. In the case
of demonstrative reference, because the speaker‘s perception fixes the referent and the speaker‘s referential intention is not formed prior to the fixation of the referent, reference is guaranteed. My argument is based on an analysis of the alleged cases of reference failure.