The question whether the notion of rigidity can be extended in a fruitful way beyond singular terms has received a standard answer in the literature, according to which non-singular terms designate kinds, properties or other abstract singular objects and generalized rigidity is the same thing as singular term rigidity, but for terms designating such objects. I offer some new criticisms of this view and go on to defend an alternative view, on which non-singular terms designate extensions in general, and generalized (...) rigidity is identity of extension across possible worlds. I develop some fundamental positive considerations that make this view virtually inevitable as a view of generalized rigidity, emphasizing its exclusive ability to offer a purely logical justification of the necessity of several kinds of statements that go beyond true identity statements between rigid singular terms. (shrink)
One of the core insights from Eleanor Rosch’s work on categorization is that human categorization isn’t arbitrary. Instead, two psychological principles constrain possible systems of classification for all human cultures. According to these principles, the task of a category system is to provide maximum information with the least cognitive effort, and the perceived world provides us with structured rather than arbitrary features. In this paper, I show that Rosch's insights give us important resources for making progress on the 'feasibility question' (...) in conceptual engineering: the question of how we can implement conceptual engineering projects in ways that are practically feasible. Specifically, I show that one overlooked upshot of Rosch's work is that naming practices play an extremely important role in the construction of perceived similarities within and dissimilarities between categories, and, correspondingly, the dissemination of social stereotypes that serve as markers between different categories that are otherwise similar. Thus, naming practices will be a crucial constraint for the feasibility of certain ameliorative projects. (shrink)
This paper studies a type of question-answer sequences which accomplish what can be considered as a delicate activity due to its projected sequential development. In contrast with other formats of question-answer sequences with different functions, here the studied format seems to count on the questionee’s lack of knowledge, consequently projecting the questioner’s own answer. This hypothesis is examined through a detailed analysis of video-recorded guided tours in French and Italian. The paper describes the different sequence trajectories occurring after the guide’s (...) question, and the difficulties both participants may find in dealing with the procedure. (shrink)
Are sensation ascriptions descriptive, even in the first person present tense? Do sensation terms refer to, denote, sensations, so that truth and falsity of sensation ascriptions depend on the properties of the denoted sensations? That is, do sensation terms have a denotational semantics? As I understand it, this is denied by Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein rejects the idea of a denotational semantics for public language sensation terms, such as‘pain’. He also rejects the idea that speakers can recognizesensations. I think these views are (...) mistaken.In this paper I shall present the following: first, my own basic views on how public language sensation terms relate to sensations ; second, to what extent these views are inconsistent with some of Wittgenstein's main tenets about sensations and sensation language, as set out in Philosophical Investigations##243–315, and what I take to be Wittgenstein's main arguments, in the same text, for those tenets ; third, why I think that those arguments are inconclusive ; and fourth, what I see as the best arguments for my own views. Sections 3 and 5 are concerned with the bearing of the private language argument on these matters. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss two approaches to rigidity. I argue that they differ in the general conception of semantics that each embraces. Moreover, I argue that they differ in how each explains the rigidity of general terms, and in what each presupposes in that explanation.
Gareth Evans adduces a case in which a proper name apparently undergoes a change in referent. ‘Madagascar’ was originally the name of a part of Africa. Marco Polo, erroneously thinking he was following native usage, applied the name to an island off the African coast. Today ‘Madagascar’ is the name of that island. Evans argues that this kind of case threatens Kripke’s picture of naming as developed in Naming and Necessity. According to this picture, the name, as used by Marco (...) Polo, referred to a part of the African mainland, since he was connected to the latter by a historical chain of communication. Since we are historically connected to Marco Polo, the name, as it is used today, still refers to the African mainland. But it doesn’t. The aim of the present paper is to give a conclusive account of the phenomenon adduced by Evans, which is compatible with Kripke’s picture. (shrink)
The articles in this collection focus on philosophical approaches to proper names. The issues discussed include abstract names, empty names, naming and name-using practices, definite descriptions, individuals, reference, designation, sense and semantics. The contributions show the importance and lasting influence of theories proposed by John Stuart Mill, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Donald Davidson, and Saul Kripke. Individual chapters assess traditional analyses and modern controversies, and contribute to the debate on proper names in contemporary philosophy of language.
Linsky’s central point is correct; Kripke’s distinction between rigid and nonrigid designators can be extended in a straightforward way from singular terms to general terms. In both cases, for an expression to rigidly designate its extension is for it to designate the same extension with respect to every possible world-state (in which it has an extension at all). On this account, simple natural kind terms like water, gold, electricity, blue, and tiger – as well as ordinary general terms like bachelor, (...) philosopher, automobile and triangle – designate the same extension with respect to each world-state. As I see it, however, the two diﬀer importantly in the metaphysics of their designata. Whereas a term like bachelor designates a property that may be distinguished from other properties that are necessarily coextensive with it, natural kinds diﬀer from one another only if there are possible world-states in which some of their instances are diﬀerent. Intuitively this seems plausible; it is hard to imagine two distinct species of animal, two distinct substances, or two distinct colors which have precisely the same instances in every possible world-state. This is important for my linguistic model. Consider, for example, the color blue (which I take to be a natural kind). Color science tells us that the object-color blue is determined.. (shrink)
Kripke defines a rigid designator as one that designates the same object in every possible world in which that object exists. He argues that proper names are rigid. So also, he claims, are various natural kind terms. But we wonder how they could be. These terms are general and it is not obvious that they designate at all. It has been proposed that these kind terms rigidly designate abstract objects. This proposal has been criticized because all terms then seem to (...) come out rigid, thus trivializing rigidity. The paper starts with further criticisms of this proposal aimed particularly at a recent version given by LaPorte. The paper goes on to develop and defend an alternative proposal presented briefly in Devitt and Sterelny (1999): instead of taking those natural kind terms to rigidly designate an object we take them to rigidly apply to the members of their extensions. Schwartz has rightly insisted that a notion of rigidity must do some theoretical work if it is to be interesting. The paper argues that rigid application for kind terms does the same primary work as rigid designation for singular terms, the work of refuting description theories of some terms; and it does the same secondary work, of explaining certain modal phenomena (with one exception). (shrink)
What is it for a predicate or a general term to be a rigid designator? Two strategies for answering this question can be found in the literature, but both run into severe difficulties. In this paper, it is suggested that proper names and the usual examples of rigid predicates share a semantic feature which does the theoretical work usually attributed to rigidity. This feature cannot be equated with rigidity, but in the case of singular terms this feature entails their rigidity, (...) as understood in the standard characterisation. Hence, it is appropriate to call this feature proto-rigidity. (shrink)
A semantic analysis of mass nouns is given in terms of a logic of classes as many. In previous work it was shown that plural reference and predication for count nouns can be interpreted within this logic of classes as many in terms of the subclasses of the classes that are the extensions of those count nouns. A brief review of that account of plurals is given here and it is then shown how the same kind of interpretation can also (...) be given for mass nouns. (shrink)
This paper discusses three approaches to the semantics of event nominalizations and adverbial modification: the Davidsonian account, the Kimian account, and the truthmaker account. It argues that a combination of all three accounts is needed for the semantics of the full range of event, trope, and state nominalizations in English.
Proper names play an important role in our understanding of linguistic ‘aboutness’ or reference. For instance, the name-bearer relation is a good candidate for the paradigm of the reference relation: it provides us with our initial grip on this relation and controls our thinking about it. For this and other reasons proper names have been at the center of philosophical attention. However, proper names are as controversial as they are conceptually fundamental. Since Kripke’s seminal lectures Naming and Necessity the controversy (...) about proper names has taken the form of a debate between two main camps, descriptivists and non-descriptivists like Kripke himself.The lectures were given in Princeton in 1970 and published in book form as Naming and Necessity .Descriptivists hold that there is a close connection between proper names and definite descriptions: the meaning or sense of a proper name can be given by a definite description. Th .. (shrink)
In this paper I am concerned with the problem of applying the notion of rigidity to general terms. In Naming and Necessity, Kripke has clearly suggested that we should include some general terms among the rigid ones, namely, those common nouns semantically correlated with natural substances, species and phenomena, in general, natural kinds -'water', 'tiger', 'heat'- and some adjectives -'red', 'hot', 'loud'. However, the notion of rigidity has been defined for singular terms; after all, the notion that Kripke has provided (...) us with is the notion of a rigid designator. But general terms do not designate single individuals: rather, they apply to many of them. In sum, the original concept of rigidity cannot be straightforwardly applied to general terms: it has to be somehow redefined in order to make it cover them. As is known, two main positions have been put forward to accomplish that task: the identity of designation conception, according to which a rigid general term is one that designates the same property or kind in all possible worlds, and the essentialist conception, which conceives of a rigid general term as an essentialist one, namely, a term that expresses an essential property of an object. My purpose in the present paper is to defend a particular version of the identity of designation conception: on the proposed approach, a rigid general term will be one that expresses the same property in all possible worlds and names the property it expresses. In my opinion, the position can be established on the basis of an inference to the best explanation of our intuitive interpretation and evaluation, relative to counterfactual circumstances, of statements containing different kinds of general terms, which is strictly analogous to our intuitive interpretation and evaluation, relative to such circumstances, of statements containing different kinds of singular ones. I will argue that it is possible to offer a new solution to the trivialization problem that is thought to threaten all versions of the identity of designation conception of rigidity. Finally, I will also sketch a solution to the so-called 'over-generalization and under-generalization problems', both closely related to the above-mentioned one. (shrink)
Among the topics discussed in detail are: the concept of an amount; the notion of an extensive dimension ; the 'is' of constitution; sortal predicates; and atomism. ;Writers discussed are: W. V. O. Quine; Vere Chappell; Tyler Burge; Terence Parsons; Henry Laycock; and Helen Cartwright. ;I argue that mass nouns should be uniformly analyzed as logical predicates which are satisfied by objects of a distinctive kind called quantities. I show how to define the notion of a quantity in a rigorous (...) way by giving existence and identity conditions for quantities. I argue on those grounds, both that mass nouns are sortal predicates, and that quantities are physical objects. ;I use the notion of a quantity to state existence and identity conditions for stuffs: A stuff F exists, I claim, just in case a quantity of F exists; and F is the same stuff as G just in case . Thus there need by nothing above and beyond physical objects in a world in which a stuff exists. ;My aim is to give a philosophical analysis of mass nouns and the stuffs they pick out. Thus I give an account of the meaning of mass nouns, i.e., of the systematic contribution they make to the truth-conditions of sentences; assign logical forms to those sentences; explain their ontological presuppositions; and define and defend the entities whose existence they presuppose. (shrink)
My dissertation is concerned with natural kind terms; its most basic goal is to provide a semantic account of the role these play in scientific discourse. Since my broad semantic approach follows Sellars and Brandom in looking to the pragmatically articulated inferential role of sentences rather than their relation to the world, I manage to set aside metaphysical questions regarding the nature of kinds. I begin with an account of the central role played by natural kind terms in theoretical explanation. (...) I show how natural kind terms are essential to the explanatory function of scientific laws as inference licenses of a certain sort. I turn then to the curious fact that natural kind terms occur in multiple grammatical positions: as parts of attributive predicates and as apparently singular referents . This latter role is at times one that seems to involve a quantificational attribution to all members of the kind, but at other times is more robust . My account demonstrates the utility of just such ambiguity to the role played by kind terms in explanation. I go on to account for a number of other puzzling features of natural kind term usage and to explain the distinction between natural kind terms and other sortals on grounds of their distinctive pragmatic significances. I conclude by laying out how my view can be extended to give a semantics for other sorts of kind terms . This allows us to draw a substantial distinction between gerrymandered kind terms and those that our theories should genuinely commit us to, while acknowledging that the entire natural/social divide among the kind terms stands or falls with our ability to show that there is an important fundamental distinction between different sorts of theories. (shrink)
We analyse the behaviour of definite descriptions and proper names terms in mathematical logic. We show that in formal arithmetic, wether some axioms are fixed or not, proper names cannot be considered rigid designators and have the same behaviour as definite descriptions. In set theory, sometimes two names for the same object are introduced. It seems that this can be explained by the notion of meaning. The meaning of such proper names can be considered as fuzzy sets of equivalent co-designative (...) definite descriptions and their references as sets of all equivalent co-designative definite descriptions. (shrink)
The focus of this article is on the pragmatic presuppositions involved in the use of general terms in inductive practices. The main thesis is that the problem of characterizing the assumptions underlying the projection of predicates in inductive practices and the ones underlying the classification of crtain general terms as «natural kind terms» coincide to a good extent. The reason for this, it is argued, is that both classifications, «projectibility» and «natural kind term», are attempts to answer to the same (...) semantico-epistemological phenomenon, viz. underdertermination. It is proposed a «deflationary» reading of the so-called «theory of direct reference» as to enable an evaluation of its contribution to epistemological problems associated with this kind of phenomena, as well as it is argued that a purely de facto account of projectibility is not viable. The resulting hypothesis is that the conception of «natural kind terms» is only interesting insofar as they are seen as a kind of projectible general terms and thus as parts of classifications used in natural science, more generally, in inductive practices, and that this is a perspective that makes undue metaphysical readings avoidable. (shrink)
For an expression to be rigid means that it refers to one and the same thing with respect to any possible situation. But how is this in turn to be understood? An example will help us work through the definition. Take a word like ‘Aristotle.’ That word is a proper name; and proper names are a clear case of a type of word that refers. ‘Aristotle’ refers to a particular person, the last great philosopher of antiquity; in general, a name (...) refers to the thing of which it is the name. To continue working through the definition of rigidity, we need to make sense of referring with respect to. It is tempting, for example, but mistaken, to understand a word's referring with respect to a possible situation as it's being used, in that situation, to refer to something. (shrink)