Research

Short abstracts of some articles that I am currently working on (for full drafts, email: MahantN@ceu.edu):


[Title Suppressed]

Call the use of a proper name that is constructed using the phonemes of one language within the sentences of another language a cross-linguistic use of the name. It is a distinctive feature of proper names that their cross-linguistic uses are unproblematic and rather widespread. Yet, this distinctive aspect of our name-using practice has evaded the attention of semantic theorists. By drawing attention to a puzzling phonological feature of sentences that contain cross-linguistic uses of names, this paper provides a new argument for a certain variety of metalinguistic semantic views.


[Title Suppressed]

The distinction between uses of names that are semantically relevant (“literal”) and semantically non-relevant (“non-literal”) is one that all parties in the philosophical debate on names rely upon and endorse. However, the lack of a principled basis for drawing this distinction represents a deficiency in the debate. An important objection (“Sceptic’s Challenge”) raised by some theorists against two new semantic views of names—the predicate view and variabilism—exemplifies the kind of philosophical problem that can result from this deficiency. This article motivates a general way of drawing the line between literal and non-literal uses of names, and by doing so, provides a response to Sceptic’s Challenge.


[Title Suppressed]

In Naming and Necessity, Saul Kripke rejects a whole bunch of metalinguistic semantic views of names on the ground that such views are ‘blatantly circular’. This article exonerates metalinguistic views from the charge of circularity. I begin by distinguishing a word from its associated form: while words have semantic properties, forms—which are types of sounds, inscriptions, or signs—do not. Quotation marks can be used to form a quote-name of either a word or its associated form. I argue that the impression of circularity in metalinguistic views results from the decision to resolve the ambiguity of quotation in the metalinguistic specification of meaning (and the property of name-bearing) in one way rather than the other—i.e., by taking quotation as forming quote-names of words. Metalinguistic views, however, are not committed to this understanding of quotation.