What Is It for a General Term to Be a Rigid Designator?

Scott Soames

in Beyond Rigidity

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195145281
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833702 | DOI:
 What Is It for a General Term to Be a Rigid Designator?

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Ch. 9 initiates an investigation of the similarities between proper names and natural kind terms by arguing that although most proper names are clearly rigid, application of the notion of rigid designation to natural kind terms is highly problematic. Because natural kind terms come in a variety of syntactic and semantic types, and often function as predicates rather than singular terms, it is doubtful than any interesting notion of rigidity applies to them all. It is argued in particular that there is no notion of rigid designation for predicates that (1) is a natural extension of the notion of rigidity for singular terms, (2) is such that simple natural kind predicates are standardly rigid whereas many other predicates are not, and (3) plays the role imagined by Kripke in explaining the necessary a posteriori status of theoretical identities like Water is H2O and An object x is hotter than an object y iff x has a higher mean molecular kinetic energy than y. Because of this, a new explanation of the status of these sentences is needed.

Keywords: natural kind terms; necessary a posteriori; predicates; rigid designation; singular terms; theoretical identities

Chapter.  9129 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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