Evans' causal theory

Evans begins by pointing out that what a speaker denotes by using a phrase is different from what the phrase itself denotes.  I think what he's getting at here is that a name like "Michael" denotes an awful lot of things, but in a given context of utterance it usually just denotes one given thing.

Once this disambiguation happens, you get two different description theories and two different causal theories.  We'll call the first kind of denotation "speaker's denotation" and the second kind "semantic denotation."   Evans argues neither theory of speaker's denotation works, neither  provide necessary nor sufficient conditions for speaker's denotation.  The big thing we will focus on is understanding the four counterexamples.

Before going further though we should point out that speaker's denotation is not the same thing as what we might call "speaker's reference," or the object which someone intends to refer to in using a phrase.  For example, pointing to a happy person in the corner drinking ice tea out of a Jack Daniels bottle I can say "the man with the whiskey is happy" when the man is drinking ice tea out of the bottle and is in fact happy.  Here, perhaps, the speaker's (me) referrence of "the man with the whiskey" is the guy in the corner.  But the speaker's denotation is not the man in the corner, and perhaps it is no-one.

Evans's own proposal in this paper is kind of strange.  He characterizes the notion of a speaker intending to refer to try to characterize semantic denotation.  In thus characterizing semantic denotation he helps himself to a lot of machinery from Grice that we haven't gotten to yet.  We may get to his characterization of a speaker's intention to refer to an object, but the main thing we shall concern ourselves with are the counterexamples.

1 descriptive theory speaker's denotation

N.N. denotes X upon a particular occasion of its use by a speaker S if and only if X is uniquely that which satisfies all or most of the descriptions Phi such that S would assent to "NN is Phi" (or "that N.N. is Phi").

1a Failure to provide sufficient conditions (272 Mr. X example)
The claim would be that for some X, X is uniquely that which satisfies all or most of the descriptions Phi such that S would assent to "NN is Phi" (or "that N.N. is Phi"), and N.N. does not denote X upon that occasion of its use by a speaker.

Suppose I don't know Bill Clinton, and I'm introduced to Al Gore as Bill Clinton, and then I say "Bill Clinton is here."

In this case Al Gore is the unique object that satisfies all or most of the descriptions Phi such that I would assent to "Bill Clinton is Phi."  But when I say "Bill Clinton is here" I do not succeed in denoting with Al Gore with the phrase "Bill Clinton."

1b Failure to provide necessary conditions (273 twins)
The claim would be that for some X and N.N., N.N. does denote X on an occasion of use by a speaker S, and it is not the case that X is uniquely that which satisfies all or most of the descriptions Phi such that S would assent to "NN is Phi" (or "that N.N. is Phi").

Suppose Sam falls in love with "Mary" who has an identical twin named "Sally," and Sam says "I love Mary."

Here "Mary" does denote Mary on the occasion of Sam's use, but it is not the case that Mary is uniquely that which satisfies all or most of the descriptions Phi such that Sam would assent to "Mary is Phi." Sally could have all of the same properties picked out by the "Phis".

(Kripke's own examples)

2 descriptive theory semantic denotation????
 

3 causal theory speaker's denotation (273)
S denotes X with NN if and only if there is a causal chain of reference preserving links leading back from his use on that occasion ultimately to the item X itself being involved in a name-acquiring transaction such as an explicit dubbing or the more gradual process whereby nicknames stick

A speaker S's transmission of a name "NN" to a speaker S' consists in a reference preserving link only if S intends to be using the name with the same denotation as he from whom he in his turn learned the name.

3a Failure to provide sufficient conditions (274)
The claim is that for some X there is a causal chain of reference preserving links leading back from S's use on that occasion ultimately to the item X itself being involved in a name-acquiring transaction such as an explicit dubbing or the more gradual process whereby nicknames stick, such that S does not denote X with NN.

Evans gives the example of a conversation in a bar where a couple of people are initially talking about Louis the XIV, and the information gets garbled and somebody ends up saying "That Louis must have been a great basketball player."  Here you've got the reference preserving links, but it seems crazy to say that that person is talking about Louis the XIV.

Evans claims that often it should be ambiguous to whom a name refers, but the causal theory preclues this.

3b Failure to provide necessary conditions (275)
The claim is that for some X, X does denote X with NN, yet there not is a causal chain of reference preserving links leading back from S's use on that occasion ultimately to the item X itself being involved in a name-acquiring transaction such as an explicit dubbing or the more gradual process whereby nicknames stick.

Evans considers an algorithm for coming up with names, such that it is predetermined what the name of the object is before the object is even created.  This does seem to be a good counterexample.

"Madagascar" (276) also illustrates both of these points.   We succeed in naming the island with "Madagascar," yet the causal chain goes back to part of mainland Africa.  So the causal history back to the bit of African mainland is not sufficient for naming that bit of mainland with "Madagascar," and a causal history back to the island is not necessary for naming the island "Madagascar."

4 causal theory semantic denotation????
 

5 Evans' account of speaker's intention to refer
Evans' writes

I think we can say that in general a speaker intends to refer to the item that is the dominant source of his associated body of information. (279)

He defines "source" in this manner:

X is the source of the belief S expresses by uttering "Fa" if there was an episode which caused S's belief in which X and S were caually related in a type of situation apt for producing knowledge that something F-s (Ex(Fx))-a type of situation in which the belief that something F-s would be cause by something's F-ing.(278)

He doesn't define "dominance."