Reference and necessity

In Bob Hale, Crispin Wright & Alexander Miller (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 902–919 (1997)
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This chapter aims to resolve some of Nathan Salmon's puzzlement by clarifying the relationship between theses and questions about reference and theses and questions about necessity and possibility. It argues that while Saul Kripke defends metaphysical theses about the descriptive semantics of names, the way the reference relation is determined, and the capacities and dispositions of human beings and physical objects, his most important philosophical accomplishment is in the way he posed and clarified the questions, and not in the particular answers that he gave to them. In response to the question about the capacities and potentialities of the things that peoples commonly refer to with names, Kripke defends the thesis that it makes sense to talk about the logical potential of an individual thing independently of how it is referred to, and that this potential is greater in certain ways, and less great in others, than some philosophers have supposed.



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Robert Stalnaker
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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