PROLEGOMENA TO THE THEORY OF REFERRING
IN THE writings of philosophers and logicians we regularly meet with such pronouncements as " ' Boston' " is the name of (the word) ' Boston' Now, if by "name" is meant "proper name," where "Boston" is the proper name of certain cities, then what we are told is literally untrue and very possibly misleading. It would be wrong to suppose that " ' Boston' " stands in the same kind of logical relation to ' Boston' as ' Boston' stands, say, to Boston, Massachusetts. It is, however, true that " ' Boston' " and ' Boston,' as here considered and when properly employed, may both, following recent terminology, be classified as referring expressions (hereafter "r.e."), that is, expressions used to refer to particular objects. The assimilation of quoted expressions to proper names is only part of a widely operating tendency toward the mutual assimilation of many different varieties of r.e., among which are (proper) proper names, demonstrative and personal pronouns, definite descriptions, expressions in quotes as illustrated above, adjectives like "blue" when used in sentences, such as "Blue is cooler than red," numerals as used to refer to houses on a street, and numerals as used to refer to numbers in number theory, as in "11 is a prime number" (I shall mark and separate the two uses of numerals mentioned by calling them "numbering-numerals" and "number-numerals," respectively.) These are not the only varieties of r.e.,1 but they suffice to make the point; for all these are distinct types.
We may already see, if but roughly, some of the important and different ways in which the varieties of r.e. work. Certain kinds operate much more systematically than do others. Numbering-numerals, as used to refer to the offices in a large building, work much more systematically than do proper names, and thereby convey much more information about their referents. The use of pronouns is much more thoroughly occasion-dependent than is the use of proper names. Adjectives like____________________