David Sosa

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577451 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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For an expression to be rigid means (abstracting from some variations) that it refers to one and the same thing with respect to any possible situation. But how is this in turn to be understood? An example will help us work through the definition. Take a word like ‘Aristotle.’ That word is a proper name; and proper names are a clear case of a type of word that refers. ‘Aristotle’ refers to a particular person, the last great philosopher of antiquity; in general, a name refers to the thing of which it is the name. To continue working through the definition of rigidity, we need to make sense of referring with respect to. It is tempting, for example, but mistaken, to understand a word's referring with respect to a possible situation as it's being used, in that situation, to refer to something.

Keywords: words; proper names; rigidity; Aristotle; abstracting; possible situation

Article.  6584 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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