How names refer to objects has been a perennial problem in the philosophy of language. The descriptivist account has long prevailed. But is it correct? Before Kripke came along and attacked it, many philosophers thought it was. Since Kripke, however, many philosophers have changed their minds and agree with Kripke, but not all of them. Some are die hard descriptivists. John R. Searle is one of these. Searle argues in Proper Names and Intentionality that Kripke failed to address the actual beliefs of descriptivists, accusing him of what can only be seen as straw man arguments. This is ironic, since Searle’s argument against Kripke is a straw man argument. I will argue against Searle in favor of Kripke. I will argue that Searle’s critique of Kripke is a straw man argument and that intentionality, though necessary, is not sufficient to give the meaning of a name. In fact, I will argue with Kripke, names do not have meanings, all they do is reference objects.
Frege, whose contribution to the philosophy of language was inspired by his work in logic and mathematics, and, ultimately, directed towards it, worked in the semantic tradition. That is, he attempted to explain how language works by appealing to properties of the symbols it uses. He was concerned with the epistemic issues of how language is cognitively significant, how it represents the thoughts of its users, and how it connects those thoughts to the world. Frege proposed a two-part theory to answer these questions, in which words and sentences have two semantic properties: (1) a sense, or mode of presentation, and (2) a reference. Words and sentences represent the thoughts of the user through the sense, while they connect to the world through reference. Frege’s theory of proper names is that they are shorthand for definite descriptions.