A mediated reference theory[1] (also indirect reference theory)[2] is any semantic theory that posits that words refer to something in the external world, but insists that there is more to the meaning of a name than simply the object to which it refers. It thus stands opposed to direct reference theory. Gottlob Frege is a well-known advocate of mediated reference theories.[2][3] Similar theories were widely held in the middle of the twentieth century by philosophers such as Peter Strawson and John Searle.

Saul Kripke, a proponent of direct reference theory, in his Naming and Necessity dubbed mediated reference theory the Frege–Russell view and criticized it.[4] Subsequent scholarship refuted the claim that Bertrand Russell's views on reference theory were the same as Frege's, since Russell was also a proponent of direct reference theory.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Siobhan Chapman (ed.), Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language, Edinburgh University Press, 2009, p. 202.
  2. ^ a b Leszek Berezowski, Articles and Proper Names, University of Wrocław, 2001, p. 67.
  3. ^ G. W. Fitch, Naming and Believing, Springer, 2012, p. 1.
  4. ^ Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972. p. 27.
  5. ^ Howard Wettstein, "Frege-Russell Semantics?", Dialectica 44(1/2), 1990, pp. 113–135, esp. 115: "Russell maintains that when one is acquainted with something, say, a present sense datum or oneself, one can refer to it without the mediation of anything like a Fregean sense. One can refer to it, as we might say, directly."