Use-mention confusions in “Sloppy, colloquial speech”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Although commonplace in both ordinary and philosophical discourse, the use/mention distinction continues to generate controversy among contemporary analytic philosophers. In what follows, my central aim will be to clarify and defend Saul Kripke’s (Naming and necessity. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1980) parenthetical remarks regarding the confusion of use and mention in ordinary (“sloppy, colloquial”) discourse involving proper names. In so doing, I willbe responding to two original and provocative papers that address Kripke’s stance on this common colloquial confusion: one by Delia Graff Fara (Analysis 72(3):492–501, 2011) and a follow-up paper by John Biro (Analysis 71(2):492–501, 2012). Although Fara and Biro are united in both their interpretation and negative assessment of Kripke’s remarks, their own positive views are importantly different. I will suggest below that Kripke’s views, properly understood, are considerably more plausible than the views of either Fara or Biro. However, I will also raise some concerns, in the concluding section of the paper, with the blanket suggestion that “sloppy, colloquial” and otherwise informal discourse is, generally speaking, irrelevant to the assessment of semantic theories of ordinary language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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