Philosophical Studies 166 (1):65-82 (2013)

Gary Ostertag
CUNY Graduate Center
In their widely discussed paper, “Semantics, Cross-Cultural Style”, Machery et al. argue that Kripke’s Gödel–Schmidt case, generally thought to undermine the description theory of names, rests on culturally variable intuitions: while Western subjects’ intuitions conflict with the description theory of names, those of East Asian subjects do not. Machery et al. attempt to explain this discrepancy by appealing to differences between Western and East Asian modes of categorization, as identified in an influential study by Nisbett et al. I claim that these differences fail to explain the conflicting intuitions. Moreover, Machery et al.’s initial conjecture—that the relevant cultural differences would manifest themselves in differing semantic intuitions—is legitimate only if we assume that the Gödel–Schmidt case is used both to undermine descriptivism and establish the causal theory. But, as I argue, this is not Kripke’s intention. This misunderstanding persists in the recent clarification of their views in “If Folk Intuitions Vary, Then What?” (Machery et al., Philos Phenomenol Res, 2012)
Keywords Causal theory of names  Description theory of names  Experimental Philosophy  Intuition  Saul Kripke  Philosophical Methodology  Reference
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-0021-6
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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.

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