Naming God: A study in semantics

David Alan White, Marquette University


In this dissertation, I consider the arguments of four critics of theistic discourse--Antony Flew, Kai Nielsen, and Michael Durrant--all of whom deny the possibility of reference to God, and Richard Gale--who denies both the possibility of perceiving God, and of referring to God by means of 'direct' reference. I argue that their arguments are flawed. After reformulating their objections in a more defensible form, I contend that the crucial error in these sorts of objections involve the notion that one can think of, and perceive, an entity only if one knows which entity it is, in terms of grasping its identifying properties. I argue, on the contrary, that someone can think of, perceive, and initially refer to, an entity without being able to identify it by means of genera/species, essential, or identifying, properties.

Recommended Citation

White, David Alan, "Naming God: A study in semantics" (1997). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9814168.