Reference and Natural Kinds

Kent Bach

in Thought and Reference

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198240778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680267 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Reference and Natural Kinds

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Burge interprets the thought experiment in a way that is even more radical than rejecting either the Fregean claim that meaning determines extension or the Fregean conception of meaning. Burge holds that the meaning of ‘water’ does determine its extension, hence that it has a different meaning on Twin Earth, and he holds that the meaning of a term is the concept conventionally associated with it. However, he takes the radical course of denying that concepts are in the head. Thus, he is rejecting the ‘methodological solipsism’ endorsed by Putnam (1975). For Burge the Twin Earth experiment extends beyond the theory of the meaning to the theory of mental contents. He is rejecting what amounts to a Fregean conception of concepts. This chapter takes up Burge's position first, because the points to be made about identifying concepts and determining their extensions will be germane to the later discussion of Putnam's and Kripke's views about the meanings and extensions of terms.

Keywords: Burge; Putnam; Kripke; thought experiment; Fregean conception; meaning; Twin Earth experiment

Chapter.  12863 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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