Against Arguments from Reference

Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, Shaun Nichols, Stephen Stich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on arguments that derive philosophically significant conclusions from the assumption of one or another theory of reference-what are called "arguments from reference." It first considers the structure of arguments from reference, and reviews a number of projects in several areas of philosophy that employ such arguments. It then shows that while intuitions about reference are central in the philosophy of language for finding the correct theory of reference, the recent empirical work of Machery and colleagues suggests that intuitions about reference vary both within and across cultures. Next, it takes the variation suggested by this empirical work for granted and considers its implications for arguments from reference. It concludes that arguments from reference ought to be relinquished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCollected Papers
Subtitle of host publicationMind and Language, 1972-2010
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190267513
ISBN (Print)9780199734108
StatePublished - Sep 22 2011


  • Arguments from reference
  • Cross-cultural variations
  • Intuitions
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of language
  • Theory of reference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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