Essentialism and The New Theory of Reference

Dialogue 23 (1):59-77 (1984)
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Kripke, Putnam and others have proposed what is often called The New Theory of Reference. Professor Matthen thinks that this theory needs to be modified in various ways: so as to avert misunderstandings about the New Theory's commitment to essentialism; so as to clarify the semantic function of what he calls “nonconnoting terms”; so as to answer Quinean doubts about the determinacy of ostension; so as to correct Putnam's “simplistic” account of ostension; so as to solve Kripke's puzzle about the seemingly inconsistent beliefs of the bilingual Pierre; and so as to show how many ordinary names, contra Kripke and Putnam, can be treated as “equivalent” to definite descriptions. No doubt many of the other things he says in his paper are clever, and perhaps even true. But as to the six modifications I have listed, I have run into difficulties. To the extent that I am able to understand them, I have been forced to conclude that they are neither needed nor helpful.



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Logic and Knowledge.BERTRAND RUSSELL - 1957 - Philosophical Quarterly 7 (29):374.

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