Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 D - Denotation


Denotation: The relation between a term, statement, symbol, gesture or sign and whatever it stands for in case the latter is supposed to exist.

Denotation, as defined, is a kind of reference. Thus, the term "mermaid" refers but does not denote, since there are no mermaids, while the term "king" denotes since there are kings. Note though that terms like "mermaid" are often taken to represent the empty set.

Also, there is no uniformity about usage of the terms "reference" and "denotation": Some confuse them; some use them differently. As I use the term, the term "mermaids" refers to mermaids, but does not denote, if we are speaking about ordinary physical reality, since there are no mermaids.


See also: Attitudes, Reference, Truth formally explained




 Original: Aug 18, 2004                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top