Against arguments from reference

Ron Mallon, Edouard MacHery, Shaun Nichols, Stephen Stich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a theory of reference undermines arguments from reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-356
Number of pages25
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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