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PHIL 415 - Lecture: Kripke 1

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PHIL 415
Michael Hallett

Kripke – Naming and necessity Lecture 1 Not a revisionist as Russell and Frege. Wants to discuss language as it is and how we use it. Not just trying to explain ordinary language, but believes that the philosophical explanation for how language works is to be sought in our intuition about how language works. Frege held that all names must be tied to descriptions (it is the description that gives the sense of the name). Hence, the name is implicitly associated with the description. Russell doesn't hold this for logically proper names, but he does hold this for most of what we call names. He thought those should be replaced by descriptions. On the other hand, Russell held that proper names always have a denotation, and their only function is to denote. They do not have an associated sense. Names really act as a form of labelling, something that is glued onto an object. Hence, both Frege and Russell believed that names are to be tied to descriptions. Frege doesn't think that any names only denote. Russell believe that logically proper names denote, but most names do more. Kripke wants to hold that most of what we call names only denotes, and are senseless. Names as such must be dissociated from descriptions. Pg. 26: defence of Millian thesis: names have denotations but not connotations (they pick things out, but they do not convey information). Pg. 27-28: summary of evidence in favour of Frege and Russell. Ostention argument: one thinks that one can ostend, or point to an object, but in the end this necessitates drawing on a definite description. In the end, there is not much knowledge by acquaintance; just knowledge by description. Thus, one cannot get away from descriptions, nor descriptive knowledge. Frege's identity puzzle: if names have no meaning other than referring to what they do, how do we explain the cognitive significance of identities in the form a = a? This pushed Frege into the position of identifying senses, etc. Russell's problem in ability to pose genuine existence questions involving names. It seems like the existence of a question like “Did Homer really exist?” doesn't seem to make any sense. If one associates names with descriptions, then there is no problem. If names have descriptions, the question is really asking whether there was some object filling the description of Aristotle. These three arguments suggest that one cannot get away from descriptions. Lastly, if Kripke is therefore going to defend a Millian view of names, he must give a clear account of how it is that names can refer or do refer without there being some associated description. Kripke is not oppose the description account of names for all names; some are indeed just shorthand for descriptions. However, Kripke claims that there are a large number of names in ordinary language that is not associated with descriptions. There are weak and strong versions of the thesis that names are tied to descriptions. Strong: it is descriptions that give us the sense and meaning of names. It's only a description
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