Terms and Truth
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.
About the Author
Alan Berger is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University.
"A major work. Berger offers an elegant examination of issues that have been in controversy for the last forty years and that have been and are being discussed by the best philosophers of language. But where others have tended to offer piecemeal solutions, Berger offers a unified account based on a small set of principles."
—Gilbert Harman, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University
“Terms and Truth makes novel and valuable contributions to the theory of reference.”
—William Lycan, William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Alan Berger is a philosopher distinguished by both acuteness and sound basic intuitions. The book ranges from basic concepts in the theory of reference to special issues such as intentional attitudes toward the nonexistent to highly technical problem in formal semantics. It is important reading for philosophers of language.”
—Saul Kripke, author of Naming and Necessity
“Berger examines the theory of direct reference (i.e, the account of reference associated with my The Meaning of Meaning and with Kripke's Naming and Necessity). His examination leads at once to a fundamental recasting of the theory: he examines both the epistemological underpinnings of the theory (which he sees as presupposing a special way of attending to objects, which he calls 'focussing') and its formal semantics. He makes a convincing case that the semantics of the theory of direct reference requires an account of anaphora, and he provides the first formal semantic theory of anaphora that I have seen anywhere. Finally, he shows the power of the theory by applying it to a particular case in the philosophy of physics (the semantics of the term 'mass' in Newtonian physics). The book is enriched at every point with beautiful points of detail which, however, never distract attention from the main line of argument, which is very clear..”
—Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University