Kripke, Putnam and the introduction of natural kind terms

Acta Analytica 17 (1):151-170 (2002)
Abstract
In this paper, I will outline some of the important points made by Kripke and Putnam on the meaning of natural kind terms. Their notion of the baptism of natural kinds- the process by which kind terms are initially introduced into the language — is of special concern here. I argue that their accounts leave some ambiguities that suggest a baptism of objects and kinds that is free of additional theoretical commitments. Both authors suggest that we name the stuff and then let the scientists tell us what properties it really has, and hence what the real meaning is. I contend that such a barren baptism, taken at face value, cannot succeed in the semantic roles it has been assigned and that softening the stance on baptism suggests a more subtle and complex relation between reference and theoretical commitment than has emerged thus far.
Keywords Kripke  Putnam  Reference  Baptism  Meaning  Natural Kind Term
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