Philosophical Review 105 (1):79 (1996)

Beyond Formalism is Jay Rosenberg’s attempt to articulate his dissatisfactions with the Kripkean “revolution” in the philosophy of language and to propose an alternative to it. According to Rosenberg, even though a “surprisingly large number of philosophers simply adopted the Kripkean ideas, images, and idioms root and branch”, he has been “inarticulately irritated by Kripke’s views for almost twenty years”. Rosenberg claims that Kripke’s semantics for proper names and natural kind terms is a misguided attempt to apply results in formal logic, in particular the semantics of modal logic, to natural language. In order to get “beyond formalism,” Rosenberg offers his own theory of nominal reference that is “for human beings.” Rosenberg’s “human” theory should be able to take account of the functioning of referring expressions in “contexts of individual understanding and interpersonal communication” —something Kripke’s theory cannot do, according to Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s book divides into criticism of Kripke’s ideas on naming and necessity, on the one hand, and adumbration of Rosenberg’s own theory for “human beings” on the other, supplemented by discussions of such topics as Kripke’s puzzle about belief and the role of formal logic in the philosophy of language.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0031-8108
DOI 10.2307/2185765
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