Online Research


Delia Graff Fara: Online Research

Name Change

Please note that I now use my married name professionally and publish under the name "Delia Graff Fara" ("Fara, Delia Graff"), using the "Judith Jarvis Thomson"/ "Laura Ingalls Wilder "/ "Elizabeth Cady Stanton"/ "Hillary Rodham Clinton"/ "Ruth Barcan Marcus" convention ("Fara" as the last name, "Graff" as the middle name), and will use "Professor Fara" for formal purposes.

For citation of works published under the name "Delia Graff", I prefer that they be cited in the following way:

  • For full-name references, use 'Delia Graff Fara';
  • For last-name-only references, use 'Fara';
  • For in-text citations, use 'Fara', as in '(Fara 2000)';
  • In the bibliography, alphabetize under 'Fara' and include a note saying what name the thing was originally published under, as in:
    Fara, Delia Graff: 2000, "Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness," Philosophical Topics 28: 45-81. Originally published under the name "Delia Graff".


To Appear

  • (2015) Names Are Predicates
    Philosophical Review 124(1), 59--117.
    This paper supersedes a manuscript called "Names as Predicates," which will never be published.

    Tyler Burge convinced us that names are predicates in at least some of their occurrences:

    • There are relatively few Alfreds in Princeton.

    Names, when predicates, satisfy the being-called condition: Schematically, a name "N" is true of a thing just in case that thing is called N. This paper defends the unified view that names are predicates in all of their occurrences. I follow Clarence Sloat, Paul Elbourne, and Ora Matushansky in saying that when a name seems to occur bare in an argument position of a predicate, it is really occurring in the predicate position of a definite description with an unpronounced "the". I call these "denuded definite descriptions". There are good linguistic reasons for defending the denuded-definites view. For example, it explains why "the" cannot be dropped in a sentence like the following:

    • The ever-popular Bill will be speaking this afternoon;
    • The taller Maria is downstairs.

    The definite article occurring before a name doesn't get pronounced when it's right next to the name. In technical terms, it gets smushed together with it. But the smushing can't happen when another phrase intervenes. The view survives philosophical objections. Denuded definite descriptions with names are incomplete definite descriptions since most names have multiple bearers. Incomplete definite descriptions are in general rigid, though. So the view survives Kripke's modal argument.

  • (2015) "Literal" Uses of Proper Names
    In On Reference, Andrea Bianchi, ed. Oxford University Press, 251-–279.
    In this paper I defend the view that names are predicates that each apply to a thing just in case that thing is a bearer of that name. (Call this the Being-Called Condition) I defend the view by examining cases in which a name is a predicate that doesn't seem to satisfy the being-called condition. Examples are these:
    1. Joe Romanov (my barber) is not a Romanov, but Waldo Cox (my gardener) is a Romanov. (From Boer, 1975)

      (The barber is not a descendant of that family who ruled Russia until 1917. The gardener is a descendant of that family.)

    2. Here comes Lena with her two little Lenas. (From Jeshion, forthcoming)

      (Lena is my friend. The two "little Lenas" are two of her daughters who resemble her very much, but they're not named Lena.)

    I argue that none of the supposedly problematic cases refute the being-called condition.

    The paper also touches on the distinction between metaphor claims and claims of resemblance and also on the phenomenon of deferred interpretation.


  • (2013) Specifying Desires
    Noûs 47(2): 250--272.
    Penultimate Draft: (PDF file)
    A report of a person's desire can be true even if its embedded clause underspecifies the content of the desire that makes the report true. It is true that Fiona wants to catch a fish even if she has no desire that is satisfied if she catches a poisoned minnow. Her desire is satisfied only if she catches an edible, meal-sized fish. The content of her desire is more specific than the propositional content of the embedded clause in our true report of her desires. Standard semantic accounts of belief reports require, however, that the embedded clause of a true belief report specify precisely the content of the belief that makes it true. Such accounts of belief reports therefore face what I call \textit{the problem of underspecification} if they are extended to desire reports. Such standard accounts are sometimes refined by requiring that a belief report can be true not only if its subject has a belief with precisely the propositional content specified by its embedded clause, but also only if its subject grasps that content in a particular way. Such refinements do not, however, help to address the problem of underspecification for desire reports.
  • (2012) Possibility Relative to a Sortal
    Forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics volume 7: 3-40. Karen Bennett and Dean Zimmerman, eds., Oxford University Press.
    Penultimate Draft: (PDF file)

  • (2011) You can call me 'stupid', … just don't call me stupid
    Analysis 71(3): 492-501.
    (PDF file)
    In this paper I argue that names are predicates when they occur in the appellation position of 'called'-predications. This includes not only proper names, but all names -- including quote-names of proper names and quote-names of other words or phrases. Thus in "You can call me Al," the proper name 'Al' is a predicate. And in "You can call me 'Al'," the quote-name of 'Al' -- namely ' 'Al' ' -- is also a predicate.
  • (2011) Socratizing
    American Philosophical Quarterly 48(3):229-238.
    (PDF file)
    In this paper I trace Quine's early development of his treatment of names, first as abbreviations for definite descriptions with "Frege-Russell" style substantive content, then as abbreviations for definite descriptions containing simple predicative content, through to a treatment of names themselves as predicates rather than as abbreviations for this or that type of some other expression. Along the way, I explain why—despite ubiquitous claims and suggestions to the contrary—Quine never actually uses the verbized name "Socratizes".
  • (2011) Truth in a Region
    in Vagueness and Language Use (2011), Paul Egre and Nathan Klinedinst, eds. (Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition). Palgrave Macmillan.
    (PDF file)
    Vague predicates have borderline cases as well as clear cases ("definite cases"). I show that any gap-theorist of vagueness is committed to the validity of an inference know as "D-Intro". This is the inference from Φ to D-Φ. This commitment embroils any gap theorist of vagueness in an inescapable paradox which I call the "gap principles paradox". (A gap-theorist of vagueness is on who invokes truth-value gaps to explain borderline cases.) I also show that if a supervaluationist takes the notion of being a borderline case as the primary notion and the notion of being a definite case as the derivative one, then she will be committed to D-Intro and hence to the gap-principles paradox. I argue that this devastating criticism applies equally to a weaker version of supervaluationism called"region-valuationism". This is a version of supervaluationism developed by Pablo Cobreros.
  • (2010) Scope Confusions and Unsatisfiable Disjuncts: Two Problems for Supervaluationism
    Published Version: (PDF file) Permission to print or download must be obtained from copyright owner.
    In Cuts and Clouds: Vagueness, Its Truth, and Its Logic, OUP, edited by Richard Dietz and Sebastiano Moruzzi.
    Here I elaborate two problems for supervaluationist accounts of vagueness. (I) The best (canonical-)supervaluationist explanation of our inclination to accept sorites premises attributes to us a tendency to confuse the scopes of a Truth operator with the existential quantifier. This explanation is shown to be incorrect as well as incomplete. (II) A well-known complaint against supervaluation semantics is that it allows for a disjunction to be true even though none of its disjuncts is in fact true. Here we develop a new, related complaint: supervaluation semantics allows for a disjunction to be true even though none of its disjuncts could be true.
  • (2009) Dear Haecceitism
    Erkenntnis 70:285-297
    Published Version: (PDF file) Permission to print or download must be obtained from the copyright owner.
    ERRATUM: On page 289, at the end of second line of the first full paragraph, 'haecceitism+' should be 'haecceitism*'.
    If a counterpart theorist’s understanding of the counterpart relation precludes Haecceitist differences between possible worlds, as David Lewis’s does, how can he admit haecceitist possibilities, as Lewis wants to? Lewis (1983, 1986) devised what he called a ‘cheap substitute for haecceitism,’ which would allow for haecceitist possibilities without his having to give up his understanding of the counterpart relation as purely qualitative. The solution involved lifting an earlier (1968, 1971) ban on there being multiple intra-world counterparts. I argue here that serious problems for his ‘cheap haecceitism’ lurk very close to its surface, and they emerge when we consider the effect of using an actuality operator in our language. Among the most serious problems is the result that truth in the actual world does not suffice for possible truth. The upshot is that if we are to admit Haecceitist possibilities, as we should, then we must reject any purely qualitative relation as the one involved in the analysis of what might have been for an individual.

  • (2008) Profiling Interest Relativity
    Final Version: (PDF File):
    Analysis, Vol. 68 No. 4, 326--335.
    Here I rebut a two-part objection to my interest-relative theory of vagueness. The objection, as developed by Jason Stanley, concerns the modal and epistemological profiles of interest-relative propositions. The modal-profile objection: vague propositions could be true even if there were no interests. The epistemic-profile objection: one doesn't have to know or believe anything about agents or their interests in order to know or believe a vague proposition. Stanley's claims about the modal profile of interest-relative propositions are correct, but not worrisome. His claims about the epistemic profile of interest-relative propositions are incorrect.

  • (2008) Relative-Sameness Counterpart Theory
    Published Version: (PDF file).
    Review of Symbolic Logic Volume 1, Number 2, pp 167-189.
    Permission to print or download must be obtained from copyright owner.

    Here I propose a coherent way of preserving the identity of material objects with the matter that constitutes them. The presentation is formal, and intended for RSL. An informal presentation: is in preliminary draft!
    Relative-sameness relations—such as being the same person as—are like David Lewis's "counterpart" relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold between objects that aren't identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in different contexts. They differ from counterpart relations, however, in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis's Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005).

  • (2006) Descriptions with Adverbs of Quantification.
    In Philosophical Issues 16: Philosophy of Language, 65–87.
    (PDF File).

  • (2004) Gap Principles, Penumbral Consequence, and Infinitely Higher-Order Vagueness.
    In Liars and Heaps: New Essays on the Semantics of Paradox, J.C. Beall (editor), Oxford, Oxford University Press. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    (PDF file).

  • (2003) Desires, Scope and Tense.
    In Philosophical Perspectives 17: Language and Philosophical Linguistics, 141-163. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    (PDF file)
    According to James McCawley (1981) and Richard Larson and Gabriel Segal (1995), the following sentence is three-ways ambiguous:
    Harry wants to be the mayor of Kenai.
    According to them also, the three-way ambiguity cannot be accommodated on the Russellian view that definite descriptions are quantified noun phrases. In order to capture the three-way ambiguity of the sentence, these authors propose that definite descriptions must be ambiguous: sometimes they are predicate expressions; sometimes they are Russellian quantified noun phrases. After explaining why the McCawley-Larson-Segal solution contains an obvious flaw, I discuss how an effort to correct the flaw brings to light certain puzzles about the individuation of desires, about quantifying in, and about the disambiguation of desire ascriptions.

  • (2003) Review of Theories of Vagueness by Rosanna Keefe.
    A slightly shortened version is in Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 53 no. 212, 460-462 (PDF file). Published under the name "Delia Graff".
  • (2002) Vagueness (International Research Library of Philosophy), co-edited with Timothy Williamson, Ashgate, Aldershot. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    Introduction written by the editors (Word file)
  • (2002) An Anti-Epistemicist Consequence of Margin for Error Semantics for Knowledge.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 64, pp. 127–142. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    (123K PDF file)
    Let's say that the proposition that p is transparent just in case Kmp for every m, where Km abbreviates m iterations of the epistemological operator 'it is known that'. I show that, given Timothy Williamson's margin for error semantics for such epistemological operators, the existence of transparent propositions, (for example B(0), which abbreviates 'any man with 0% scalp coverage is bald') requires (in a large class of models) that certain higher-order predicates (such as KmB(x) for some sufficiently large m) have known boundaries – a fact which is apparently incompatible with the epistemicist theory of vagueness.
  • (2001) Phenomenal Continua and the Sorites.
    Mind (2001), vol. 110(440) pp. 905–935. Copyright © 2001 Oxford University Press. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    Permission to print or download must be obtained from copyright owner.
    Official Published Version (access restricted): (PDF file).

    For helpful comments, I would like to thank audiences at

    • Bled, Slovenia, The Interuniversity Center Conference on Vagueness, (6 June 1998) and
    • Vassar College (4 November 1998)

    where earlier versions of this material were presented. These acknowledgements were inadvertently neglected in the published version of this paper.
    I argue that phenomenal indiscriminability, contrary to widespread philosophical (and psychological) opinion, is transitive. For if it were not transitive, we would be precluded from accepting the truisms that:
    1. if two things look the same then the way they look is the same; and that
    2. if two things look the same then if one looks red, so does the other.
    Although these are obvious truisms requiring transitivity, it has seemed obvious to many philosophers (e.g. Goodman, Armstrong and Dummett) that phenomenal indiscriminability is not transitive; and, moreover, that this non-transitivity is straightforwardly revealed to us in experience. I show this thought to be wrong. All inferences from the character of our experience to the non-transitivity of indiscriminability involve either a misunderstanding of continuity, a mistaken interpretation of the idea that we have limited powers of discrimination, or tendentious claims about what our experience is really like; or such inferences are based on inadequately supported premises, which though individually plausible are jointly implausible.

  • (2001) Descriptions as Predicates.
    Philosophical Studies, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp. 1–42. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    Copyright © 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    (152KB PDF file)
    In a number of standard sentential environments, definite and indefinite descriptions lack the properties we would expect them to have if they were quantified noun phrases. In predicative position — as in 'Max is not the owner' — descriptions lack the scopal and distributional properties of quantified noun phrases. In argument position when occurring with adverbs of quantification — as in 'The owner of a Porsche is usually smug' — descriptions interact with adverbs while quantifiers do not, providing for more ambiguities than in a sentence like 'Every owner of a Porsche is usually smug'. Consequently, a Russellian analysis of descriptions should be rejected. To handle the phenomena I propose a unified analysis of definite and indefinite descriptions as predicates, including mass definites, plural definites, and bare plurals. The analysis handles generic as well as existential descriptions, and handles also the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification, without positing ambiguity for either the definite or indefinite articles.

  • (2000) Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness.
    Philosophical Topics, vol. 28(1): 45–81. Copyright © 2000–2001 Philosophical Topics.
    Re-printed in Arguing about Language, Darragh Byrne and Max Koelbel (eds.), Routledge.
    To be re-printed in Philosophy of Language: Critical Concepts in Philosophy, A.P. Martinich (ed.), Routledge, forthcoming. Published under the name "Delia Graff".
    Permission to print or download must be obtained from copyright owner.

    (157KB PDF file)
    I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.



These are working drafts in various stages of completion, some closer to being finalized than others. They lack arguments and discussions that I will eventually add to them. And they contain many arguments which I will either improve or excise. I wholeheartedly welcome any comments and suggestions.
  • Names as Predicates
    DRAFT 1.02, 27 January 2011
    (PDF file)

    NOTE: This is a draft of a paper that will forever remain an unpublished manuscript. It has been superseded by "Names Are Predicates".
  • Generalizing from the Instances
    Draft 4.0, 8 August 2010
    (PDF file)
    Here's a false generalization with manifestly false consequences: all people who differ by one millimeter in height from a short person are themselves short. Why are we inclined to believe it? Boundary-shifters, usually lumped together under the heading ``contextualists'', say that we believe the false generalization because when we consider any instance, that instance is true at the time of our consideration. Critics complain that the explanation is no good, for (i)~if it were, then fallacious inferences would be rampant; (ii)~if it were, then we would always generalize from instances that we knew to be true at the time we considered them. But, they say, fallacious inferences are not rampant and we do not always generalize from the instances. Responses: (i)~boundary-shifters require only that \textit{weakly} fallacious inferences are rampant, and indeed they are; (ii)~generalizing from the instances is both natural and explanatory, albeit defeasible.

Page created and (sort of) maintained by Delia Fara
Last modified: "Monday, 26 Jan 2015, 20:13"

(PDF file)
Forthcoming in Analysis.