Being Called

 

Any semantic account of proper names must make sense not just of their referential uses but also of their seemingly predicative uses. While various competing accounts differ radically in their analyses of such uses, they all share a common feature: they interpret a predicative use of a name N as expressing (either semantically or pragmatically) the property of being called N. However, adequately characterizing what being called amounts to turns out to be more difficult than has typically been appreciated. I show no account of proper names—be it predicativist, contextualist or Millian—offers an adequate characterization. The best attempt, on any of these accounts, will saddle us with a rampant, and very peculiar kind of ambiguity, making names a rather unusual type of lexical items.