Comments on Nathan salmon “are general terms rigid”
1. Nathan Salmon paper is entitled with a question: are general terms rigid? He asks this question in way of engaging the issue of the extension of the notion of rigidity beyond the domain of singular terms. While singular terms has been the province of most of the discussion of this rigidity since Naming and Necessity, it is well known that Kripke saw the notion extending to at least certain general terms such as terms for natural kinds. Scott Soames has recently weighed in on this issue in the latter chapters of his book Beyond Rigidity. His conclusion is that although there are significant overlaps in the properties of singular and general terms, there is no direct extension of rigidity to the general terms, and that rigid designation is properly applied only to singular terms. Salmon disagrees. His view, based in part of views dating back to his book Reference and Essence, is that there is an extension to be had, one which allows the application of the standard Kripkean characterization of rigidity to be applied to both sorts of terms. Central to his thesis is a claim about the status of certain definite descriptions. In these remarks, I will try to outline the issues to which NS is reacting, and the proposal he posits in response. I will then consider in a more critical light his claim about definite descriptions, bringing to bear considerations of their grammar.
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