The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity

Scott Soames

in Beyond Rigidity

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195145281
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833702 | DOI:
 The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity

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This chapter sets out the unfinished semantic agenda of Kripke's Naming and Necessity, the first item of which is a positive theory of the meaning of proper names, and the propositions semantically expressed by sentences containing them. Although much of Kripke's discussion supports the Millian view that the meaning of a name is its referent and that the proposition expressed by a sentence containing the name is a singular Russellian proposition, these conclusions conflict with his contention that the propositions expressed by true identity sentences like Hesperus is Phosphorus or Cicero is Tully are knowable only a posteriori. It is shown that Kripke's argument for this contention is flawed, and that, because of this, the Millian conception of meaning remains a viable option – provided that the Millian can explain how speakers are able to use sentences that differ only in the substitution of one coreferential name for another to assert different things, to convey different information, and to express different beliefs. The second item on the unfinished semantic agenda of Naming and Necessity is showing how to extend the nondescriptive, Millian account of proper names to simple predicates involving natural kind terms. It is shown that many of Kripke's examples of true theoretical identity sentences contain such predicates, and that his explanation of the necessity of these sentences faces a serious challenge.

Keywords: Hesperus; identity sentences; Kripke; meaning; names; natural kind terms; necessity; predicates; Russellian proposition

Chapter.  6236 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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