Document Type

Honors Project


Mill thought the semantic content of proper names is simply their referents. This is true even for objects we are not acquainted with, even though many contemporary Millian theories appeal to causal connections to account for the reference and thus the meaning of such names. However, in certain contexts, we refer to objects that we are not causally related to — moreover, we seem to be able to think about such objects, as well. Such cases appear in science and fiction, for example, when we talk about hypothetical objects and fictional characters. In this thesis, I will examine the naming practices in fiction and science, and look at how reference is fixed when speakers are not acquainted with the objects they are referring to. I will argue that reference can be fixed in many ways, and due to the close relation between reference and thought, we can think and talk about objects without acquaintance constraints, as long as we participate in the relevant social practices.

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Philosophy Commons



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