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Tuesday, January 10, 2017


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OK, we are now in agreement, at least on the terms of the argument. We agree that Kripke’s argument crucially depends on the assumption that proper names as used in the ‘designates’ relation are ‘referentially transparent’. Note that ‘referentially transparent’ is not really an explanation, in the sense that attributing the effect of opium to its ‘dormative power’ is not an explanation. Some comments:

1. Picky point: it is not correct to say ‘we are assuming that names are rigid designators that refer directly to their designata, not via a Fregean sense or a Russellian description’. Kripke explicitly denies any connection between the concept of rigid designation, namely sameness of designation in modal contexts, and direct reference. I don’t have the book with me right now, but he says it in the introduction. Likewise ‘successful reference on Kripke's scheme get us right to the thing itself. The meaning of a name is its referent, not a Fregean sense or mode of presentation.’ Not according to Kripke. He assumes only that proper names designate rigidly, and (as we now agree) that substitutivity holds for the designation relation.

2. ‘The Opponent's view might make sense if we add to the dialectic the Opponent's surprising thesis that all reference is intralinguistic reference, but this thesis cannot be brought into a discussion of Kripke.’ Why not? We agree that his thesis depends on the assumption of substitutivity, not just rigidity. Proper names are also rigid on the intralinguistic theory, but not necessarily substitutive. Again, you must not confuse direct reference (which the IL thesis denies) with rigidity of reference.

3. ‘For if the meaning of 'a' is exhausted by a, and the meaning of 'b' exhausted by b, and a = b, then there is no additional factor that could induce referential opacity.’ I completely agree. However the meaning of ‘a’ is not exhausted by a. But neither is its meaning descriptive, so here we disagree.

In summary:

Kripke: proper names are rigid designators, they are not logically proper, substitutivity succeeds for the ‘designates’ relation.

You: proper names are not ‘rigid designators’ (on your interpretation of ‘rigid designator’), they are not logically proper (because not ‘rigid designators’)

Me: proper names are not ‘rigid designators’, they are not logically proper, substitutivity fails for the ‘designates’ relation.

Ad (1). There is no introduction but there is a long preface. Having skimmed I don't find your "picky point."

Are you alluding to the fact that there are rigid definite descriptions? If so, I will respond that we are talking about proper names.

Of course, the concept of rigidity is not the same as the concept of direct reference. Perhaps you can explain to me how 'Socrates' can refer rigidly while also being such that its reference is routed through a sense such as the one given by 'the teacher of Plato.'

Ad (2). Is it not blindingly obvious that Kripke is thinking of reference the way everybody except you thinks of it, namely as extralinguistic in its paradigm cases? 'Venus' can be the antecedent of a pronoun, but not Venus. No planet is a part of speech.

If you talking about the Nec of Id thesis, then we don't agree that substitutivity is needed for it. Besides, you never clarified the difference between the latter and InId.

Consider this sentence: 'Peter left when he heard the name "Trump"' Please explain how the back reference of 'he' to 'Peter' is not direct. What are you saying? It is mediated by a Fregean sense??!

Explain what you take to be the difference between a logically proper name and a rigidly designating name.

The picky point is right there: we should not conflate direct reference with rigid designation. I think we should agree on some definitions.

1. Logically proper name. For Russell, and for Kripke, a logically proper name is a singular term whose presence in a sentence contributes nothing to the proposition expressed thereby except the object that it denotes. Substitution never fails for terms which are logically proper. Thus if a and b are Russellian logically proper names, and a = b is true, then so are all three of the following

It is (metaphysically) necessary that a = b.
It is a priori that a = b.
It is analytic that a = b.

2. Direct reference. A commonly accepted definition of ‘direct reference’ is that the meaning of ‘Socrates’ just is Socrates himself. I take this to be equivalent to the thesis that a proper name like ‘Socrates’ is a logically proper name.

Can you either accept these definitions, or propose some others.

I found another definition, by the illustrious Mark Richard: ‘The content of a directly referential expression, taken relative to a context, is that thing which the expression, taken relative to the context, has as a referent at any circumstance of evaluation’. I.e. content = referent.

From this definition, as for ‘logically proper name’, if a=b then all three of the following are true:

It is (metaphysically) necessary that a = b.
It is a priori that a = b.
It is analytic that a = b.
This is because, if the content is the referent, and if a=b, then ‘a’ has the same content as ‘b’. Do you agree?

You should also ask (to make my hint explicit) whether Kripke holds some or none or all of the three propositions above to be true.

This set of topics is miserably complicated. D. Kaplan in "Demonstratives" links rigidity and direct reference: An expression is directly referential if its "referent, once determined,is taken as fixed for all possible circumstances . . . ." (Themes from Kaplan, 493)

I've lost my MOJO for the day

I recommend Kripke by John Burgess. Chapter 4 explains the difference between Kripke and the ‘Neo-Kripkeans’. Burgess is a long-time colleague of Kripke and ought to know. He attributes a ‘minimal’ Millianism, holding merely the theses that names are not descriptive (which makes me a minimal Millian too). Maximal Millians by contrast are committed to propositions.

Though Kripke has been called a 'direct reference' theorist, he is not one as I understand the term, since I understand the term as involving an unqualified acceptance of the apparatus of propositions.
Maximal Millianism commits one to the following three theses. (1) 'Snow is white,' and 'La neige est blanche,' express the same proposition. 'Bandersnatches are white' expresses no proposition. (2) Propositions are the primary bearers of truth value. (3) propositions are the objects of belief.

Combined with minimal Millianism (that names are not descriptive) these entail ‘the most fundamental principle of direct reference’, that ‘all the presence of a name in a sentence can contribute to the proposition expressed by an utterance thereof would be the bearer of the name’. And this entails (i) that substitutivity universally applies. If Jake believes that Hesperus is a planet, he automatically believes Phosphorus is a planet, even if he denies the sentence ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’. And (ii) Sentences with empty names fails to express propositions. This means the sentence ‘Pegasus does not exist’ is not true! Neo-Kripkeans also think the following have the same truth value

(3a) It is knowable a priori that Hesperus is Hesperus.
(3b) It is knowable a priori that Hesperus is Phosphorus.

which Kripke of course denies. See my ‘hint’ above. So Kripke is a minimal Millian, and so he is not a neo-Kripkean.

You mean Russellian propositions. Strange critters, these. Mt. Blanc together with all its snowfields and subterranean rodents is literally a constituent of the Russellian proposition expressed by 'Mt Blanc is snow-capped.'

Maybe God could have such a proposition as an object of belief, but it's way too big for me.

And of course a Russellian thought about the beautiful 'Hesperus' would weigh 5 thousand billion billion tons, have a surface temperature of 860 degrees Fahrenheit, and constantly raining sulphuric acid.

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