Loar’s puzzle, similarity, and knowledge of reference



Communication, Reference, Singular terms, Similarity, Knowledge.


In ‘The Semantics of Singular Terms’ (1976) Brian Loar proposed a famous case where a hearer seems to misunderstand an utterance even though he has correctly identified its referent. Loar’s case has been used to defend a model of communication where speaker and hearer must think of the referent in similar ways in order for communication to succeed. This ‘Similar Ways of Thinking’ (SW) theory is extremely popular, both in the literature on Loar
cases and in other philosophical discussions. My goal is to offer a novel argument against this influential model of communication and propose an alternative picture. First, I show how a certain version of SW fails to solve Loar’s puzzle. Then I point at a more general problem with SW, arguing that no version of this model can account for Loar-style cases without making the conditions for communication too strict. I then propose an alternative account of Loar cases,
analyzing them as cases of luck where the hearer does not know that she has identified the referent correctly. I conclude by contrasting my view with other existing accounts of Loar cases.


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Biografia do Autor

Andrea Onofri, University of Graz

Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades - Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. Institute of Philosophy - University of Graz.


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Como Citar

ONOFRI, A. Loar’s puzzle, similarity, and knowledge of reference. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 42, n. 2, p. 1–45, 2019. Disponível em: https://periodicos.sbu.unicamp.br/ojs/index.php/manuscrito/article/view/8656671. Acesso em: 30 set. 2022.