Chapter

Rigid Designation and Its Lessons for the Semantic Contents of Proper Names

Scott Soames

in Beyond Rigidity

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195145281
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833702 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195145283.003.0002
 Rigid Designation and Its Lessons for the Semantic Contents of Proper Names

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The chapter explains the idea that names are rigid designators, and how it is used in Kripke's modal argument against the view that names are synonymous with descriptions associated with them by speakers. The modal argument is defended against the two leading attempts to circumvent it and reinstate descriptivism – one which claims that names are rigidified descriptions, and the other which claims that they are descriptions that are required to take wide scope when embedded in modal (but not epistemic) constructions. These views are refuted, with the result that Kripke's original modal argument is strengthened and extended so as to constitute a decisive objection to all standard forms of descriptivism. However, this result is shown to be compatible with the possibility that there may be a class of linguistically complex, partially descriptive proper names, like Princeton University, the meanings of which include some descriptive elements.

Keywords: descriptions; descriptivism; Kripke; names; rigid designators

Chapter.  14670 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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