By George Powell
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It seems to me that, if we are to take truth-conditional intuitions seriously at all, then we’re honour bound to take competing intuitions seriously too; we should, that is, expect an analysis of the semantics and pragmatics of singular expressions to be able to account for contradictory intuitions where they arise. There are two suggestions I want to make here which may be useful when it comes to explaining contradictory intuitions later in the book. Firstly, split intuitions may be reconciled by taking them to concern not the content of one and the same utterance but rather the content of two distinct utterances.
Under these circumstances it seems to be possible for S to refer to a as ‘Ben’, even when speaking to H. The problem is, of course, that neither S nor H believes that a is called ‘Ben’. Moreover, H doesn’t need to believe that S thinks a is called ‘Ben’ to retrieve S’s intended meaning. So what’s going on here? Intuitively it’s clear what’s going on: S is making use of T’s mistaken belief, and her and H’s mutual knowledge of this mistake, to talk about a as ‘Ben’. Nevertheless, something needs to give: as things stand, I’m suggesting that the meaning of a proper name points the hearer towards a concept of something the speaker believes to bear the name.
Approaching the question from within the framework of Chapter 2, there’s every reason to suppose that it is: there are, as far as I can see, reasonably strong intuitions that, on the assumption that Bill is indeed φ, S has, in uttering ‘Ben is φ’ got something right and something wrong. We’ve already seen what she has got wrong: she has the false belief that Bill is called ‘Ben’, a false belief that H must access to retrieve the intended content. It seems natural, then, to say that what she has got right is that the proposition expressed by her utterance is true.