OK or OK*—Putnam's Way to Essentialism

Hilary Putnam made the claim several times that the direct reference theory (DRT) he endorsed had startling consequences for the theory of necessary truth and essentialism. If DRT was correct, so he claimed, it followed that things belonging to natural kinds had their deep structures necessarily. Inspired by Keith Donnellan, Nathan Salmon tried to spell out what Putnam seemed to have in mind when making the claim, and Salmon called the result of his analysis “the OK mechanism.” Salmon showed that it was not DRT, but some other essentialism-entailing premise, that had the claimed startling consequences in the OK mechanism. In this paper, I argue that Salmon’s OK is not the right interpretation of Putnam’s intended mechanism. Instead, I present Putnam’s intention as the OK* mechanism, and show that, in OK*, DRT does have the claimed startling consequences when supplemented only with other metaphysically innocent, purely empirically verifiable premises
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