Peirce's Direct, Non-Reductive Contextual Theory of Names


Peirce's theory of proper names has traditionally been thought to anticipate the new (or causal-historical) theory of names. Recent scholarship has argued that affinities between the new theory and Peirce's theory are overstated because integral to Peirce's theory are contextual (social, epistemic, and pragmatic) factors that are absent in the former. After a clarification of the central aspects of Peirce's theory and an account of his rejection of descriptivism, I argue that while Peirce went beyond the reductive causal-historical approach to names, recent scholarship overlooks the fact that many so-called new theorists adopt a similar noncausal approach to names.