Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity, by Scott Soames

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Geirsson, Heimir
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Philosophy and Religious Studies
The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies focuses on two areas of study. Its major in Philosophy seeks to examine human experience and reality through critical reflection and argument, developing skills in critical analysis and knowledge of ethics and philosophy. The major in Religious Studies seeks to investigate and reflect upon world religions in an objective, critical, and appreciative manner, providing students with knowledge of religion’s nature and its roles in social and individual life.
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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.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2005