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“Fido”-fido theory of meaning

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of language My dog Fido is an entity , and is designated by the name “Fido.” On analogy, some theories of meaning claim that every meaningful expression refers to or designates an extra-linguistic entity, including abstract entities , and derives its meaning from what it designates. Gibert Ryle applied a derogatory label to this theory of meaning. According to him, this analogy is naive and incorrect. “Fido” stands in the relation of designation to my dog Fido. However, not every meaningful expression is a name that stands for some entity. For all expressions to be meaningful in this way, we would in the first place have to invent whole classes of abstract entities to which expressions that do not function in a designating way could seem to stand in a relation of designation. The expression “red” would, for example, give rise to the expression “redness” to stand for the objective property of redness. But this multiplication of entities would be futile. The central objection here is that having meaning is not identical with standing for. Other philosophers call this theory Platonic realism or hypostatization . “I am still not quite sure why it seems so natural to assume that all words are names, and even that every possible grammatical subject of a sentence, one-worded or many-worded, stands to something as the proper name ‘Fido’ stands for the dog Fido, and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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