Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity, by Scott Soames
n Naming and Necessity Saul Kripke criticized descriptivist theories of proper names and suggested a ‘better picture’ as a replacement. But while the ‘better picture’ that Kripke provided was very interesting and stimulating, it was little more than a sketch of a theory that needed much work and refinement. While Kripke argued that proper names are not synonymous with definite descriptions or clusters of definite descriptions, he was silent on what the semantic contents of names might be. Further, he even speculated in the introduction to his book that the apparatus of propositions might break down given his arguments, thus further adding to the need to develop the agenda that he got underfoot. Still further, in his third lecture Kripke extended his account of proper names as being rigid designators to natural kind terms without providing arguments for such an extension and without arguing specifically that natural kind names are rigid designators. Consequently, it is not clear what one should think about his well known arguments regarding the epistemic and modal status of identity statements, such as ‘water is H2O.’
This book review is published as Geirsson, H., Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity, by Scott Soames. Disputatio, 2005, 1(18); 185-191.