Gómez-torrente on reference to ordinary substances

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According to the Kripke-Putnam orthodoxy, a term like 'water' refers to samples of the same substance as the items on the basis of which the term was introduced. However, observations due to Needham (2000) and Leslie (2013) cast doubt on the idea that there is a uniquely privileged notion of substance relevant to the determination of reference, in which case it would seem at best indeterminate what the word `water' refers to. In response to this problem, Gómez-Torrente (2019) has argued that there is a privileged notion of substance that plays a role in the determination of reference, namely, the ordinary notion of substance. This paper argues that Gómez-Torrente's proposal is not successful. Contrary to what Gómez-Torrente supposes, there is no uniquely privileged ordinary notion of substance; rather, there are many notions of substance compatible with the meaning of 'substance' none of which seems privileged over the rest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Natural kind terms
  • Reference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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