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

Theoria 79 (3):242-261 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,419

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Reevaluando la tesis Kripke-Putnam.Pierre Baumann - 2013 - Argumentos (9):270-294.
Putnam's theory of natural kinds and their names is not the same as kripke's.Ian Hacking - 2007 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 11 (1):1-24.
Naming natural kinds.Åsa Maria Wikforss - 2005 - Synthese 145 (1):65-87.
Natural kinds and natural kind terms.Kathrin Koslicki - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (4):789-802.
Natural Kinds: (Thick) Essentialism or Promiscuous Realism?Nigel Leary - 2007 - Philosophical Writings 34 (1):5 - 13.
Escape from twin earth: Putnam's 'logic' of natural kind terms.Carleton B. Christensen - 2001 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 9 (2):123-150.
Analyticity, necessity, and the epistemology of semantics.Jerrold J. Katz - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):1-28.
Rigidity, natural kind terms and metasemantics.Corine Besson - 2010 - In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge. pp. 25--44.
Natural phenomenon terms.Richard Gray - 2006 - Analysis 66 (2):141–148.


Added to PP

125 (#101,913)

6 months
1 (#452,962)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Indigenous and Scientific Kinds.David Ludwig - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
Natural kind terms again.Panu Raatikainen - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-17.
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

Add more citations

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.

View all 29 references / Add more references