In this book, Alan Berger further develops the new theory of reference—as formulated by Kripke and Putnam—applying it in novel ways to many philosophical problems concerning reference and existence. Berger argues that his notion of anaphoric background condition and anaphoric links within a linguistic community are crucial not only to a theory of reference, but to the analysis of these problems as well.
The book is organized in three parts. In part I, Berger distinguishes between two styles of rigid designation. Based on this distinction, he develops a theory of reference change for rigid designator terms and shows how this distinction sheds light on identity statements. In part II, he offers an account of belief attribution containing vacuous names within the belief context, of intentional identity statements, and of true negative existential statements. In part III, he analyzes anaphoric expressions (i.e., expressions whose reference is determined in part by other clauses or sentences in a given discourse) and presents a formalization of anaphora and plural quantification.