Bachelors, Energy, Cats and Water: Putnam on Kinds and Kind Terms

Theoria 79 (3):242-261 (2013)
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Abstract

Since Hilary Putnam and Saul Kripke's first attacks on traditional, descriptivist theories of natural kind terms, it has become customary to speak of the ‘Putnam-Kripke’ view of meaning and reference. This article argues that this is a mistake, and that Putnam's account of natural kind terms is importantly different from that of Kripke. In particular, Putnam has from the very start been sceptical of Kripke's modal claims, and in later papers he explicitly rejects the proposal that theoretical identity statements are metaphysically necessary (if true). I suggest that this is wholly in line with Putnam's earlier, Quine-inspired writings on general terms, and his preoccupation with the philosophy of science. Moreover, I argue that the picture of general terms that emerges from Putnam's writings is more plausible than that suggested by Kripke. However, contrary to Putnam, I also suggest that Putnam's later views on natural kinds and natural kind terms do not support standard Twin Earth externalism

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Citations of this work

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No, water (still) doesn’t have a microstructural essence.Sören Häggqvist - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-13.
Necessity and Propositions.Tristan Haze - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Sydney

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References found in this work

The meaning of 'meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.

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