In Chapter 1 we presented Frege’s argument that sense is individuated in a more fine-grained way than reference because sense has cognitive significance. Sense is a mode of presentation of the referent, and so is distinct from the referent. Two distinct terms, or two identical terms occurring in distinct contexts, can be associated with distinct senses even though they have the same reference. Descriptivism adds that modes of presentation are captured by a cluster of definite descriptions. This view has it that the reference of a singular or general term ‘a’ is mediated by a set of descriptive properties such that an object is the referent of ‘a’ if and only if that object has all or enough of those properties. As mentioned, descriptivism contrasts with referentialism according to which meaning is exhausted by reference, to use a slogan. On this view, the sole semantic function of a referring term is to pick out an object as the referent of that term. In this chapter referentialism is presented and an argument in its support is discussed. There are two ways of spelling out the slogan. Negatively, referentialism

is the view that a singular or general term has no descriptive content mediating its reference. What makes the name ‘Aristotle’ refer to the man Aristotle is not the fact that Aristotle instantiates various descriptive properties associated with that name such as being the teacher of Alexander the

Great. Sentences containing ‘Aristotle’ do not express descriptive propositions, nor does understanding ‘Aristotle’ involve knowing a cluster of definite descriptions expressing those properties. Positively, referentialism says that a singular or general term ‘a’ refers directly to its referent such that the meaning or propositional content of ‘a’ – its contribution to determining the proposition expressed by sentences containing ‘a’ – consists in its referent. What the name ‘Aristotle’ contributes to determining the proposition expressed by the sentence ‘Aristotle was a philosopher’ is simply the man Aristotle himself. That is to say, such a sentence expresses the singular proposition Aristotle was a philosopher, which is the ordered pair consisting of Aristotle himself and the property of being a philosopher. The propositional content of ‘Aristotle’ is singular in virtue of that proposition containing Aristotle as a constituent. Consequently, to understand ‘Aristotle’ is to know of Aristotle that the name ‘Aristotle’ refers to him. Such knowledge requires that one is appropriately epistemically hooked up with Aristotle, e.g. is acquainted with Aristotle or otherwise stands in some causal-historical relation to him.1