Speaker’s reference, semantic reference and public reference
Kripke (1977) views Donnellan’s (1966) misdescription cases as cases where semantic reference and speaker’s reference come apart. Such cases, however, are also cases where semantic reference conflicts with a distinct species of reference I call “public reference”, i.e. the object that the cues publicly available at the time of utterance indicate is the speaker’s referent of the utterance. This raises the question: do the misdescription cases trade on the distinction between semantic reference and speaker’s reference, or the distinction between semantic reference and public reference? I argue that Kripke’s own construal in terms of semantic reference and speaker’s reference is at best incomplete, and probably wrong. I also explain the general importance of the notion of ‘public reference’.
Keywords: Kripke, misdescription cases, descriptions