Moogles, and Chocobos, and Kripke? Oh My! Some Basic Issues in Contemporary Philosophy of Language, Kupo!

In Originally Written for Final Fantasy And Philosophy (ed.), but will remain unpublished (2008)
Everyone knows that moogles are disgustingly cute. I know people who would kill to be able to have one in real life, but could there really be moogles? Say, for instance, that archeologists discovered a species of animal in some remote land that completely resembled the chocobo in every way. Would that count as discovering that the beloved Final Fantasy creatures were real? Even if we don’t make such a discovery are chocobos and moogles metaphysically possible? That is, can we coherently imagine a situation which would count as one which contained moogles? The answer to these questions depends, surprisingly, on what the meaning of ‘moogle’ and ‘chocobo’ is; or so many contemporary philosophers of language think. In particular one contemporary philosopher, Saul Kripke (1940- ), has argued that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding no. In order to understand why he thinks this and whether he is right we’ll have to begin by looking at the debate philosophers have had over the meaning of names.
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