Master of Arts
Date of Defense
Jon McGinnis, Professor
In this paper I argue that there is no motivation to support the Strong Indexical Theory of Names as opposed to its counterpart the Weak Indexical Theory of Names. The Strong Indexical Theory, as proposed by Pelczar, argues that names are indexicals. According to Pelczar, names are context-sensitive to an antecedently performed speech-act, which fixes the referent in that context. However, the content of ambiguous terms can also be fixed by a speech-act, and so according to the strong theory ambiguous terms are indexicals. Furthermore, the meaning of any term can also shift over time and thus unambiguous terms could potentially become ambiguous in the future. Hence, I argue that all terms, ambiguous and unambiguous, are indexicals according to the Strong Indexical Theory of Names. However, indexicals are different from other terms in that the content of an indexical is determined through a single social convention, while the content of all other terms, including names, are determined through two social conventions. Thus, as I argue, names are in the same semantic category as ambiguous terms, which is the main thesis of the Weak Indexical Theory of Names. Moreover, the Strong Indexical Theory claims to resolve the problem of propositional attitudes through an appeal to the reflexive character of names. Yet, the weak alternative also agrees that names have a reflexive character and can also resolve the problem through the same method. In the end, there is no motivation to support the strong theory as opposed to the Weak Indexical Theory of Names.
Thomas, Costigan, "Two Indexical Theories of Names" (2015). Theses. 266.