Terms and truth: Reference direct and anaphoric, by A. Berger


Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. Pp. xi + 234. H/b £?.??, $?.??, P/b £?.??, $?.??. If asked for an example of a rigid designator it is likely that one would suggest a name, like ‘Aristotle’ or ‘Tony Blair’, or a demonstrative, like ‘that book’ said whilst pointing at a certain text. Intuitively, what these expressions have in common is the central role they accord to perception of an object: you can see the book you want to talk about, there are people around in our community who have bumped into Tony, and, although no one alive today perceived Aristotle directly, it seems plausible to claim that our ability to use the name now relies on the fact that someone, sometime, did perceive him directly. However, as anyone at all familiar with rigid designation knows, not all such expressions follow this model. Kripke himself stressed that certain definite descriptions have a constant extension across all possible worlds (for example, ‘the smallest prime number’, ‘the actual prime minister of Great Britain now’) and thus meet the criterion for being rigid designators; while Kaplan emphasized the role of a descriptive rule in determining the referent for a token utterance of an indexical, like ‘I’ or ‘tomorrow’

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Emma Borg
University of Reading

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