Kind Term Rigidity and Property Identities

Philosophia 45 (3):1179-1193 (2017)
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Although it is common to claim that certain general terms or kind terms are rigid designators and that their rigidity helps explain their behavior in modal contexts, it has turned out to be surprisingly difficult to define an adequate notion of rigidity for general terms. Such definitions tend, as argued in particular by Scott Soames, to lead to a type of overgeneralization that leaves the purported rigidity of general terms explanatorily inert. In recent years, several attempts have been made to circumvent the problem, and the present article focuses on a particular and potentially powerful strategy developed by Joseph LaPorte in his recent book Rigid Designation and Theoretical Identities for blocking one of the core inferences in Soames’s case against general term rigidity. I argue that the type of response LaPorte promotes is bound to fail; though it might initially appear to circumvent the threat of trivialization described by Soames, it is susceptible to a different and arguably even worse kind of trivialization challenge. In conclusion, Soames’s arguments remain a significant obstacle to identifying a non-trivializing definition of kind term rigidity, and we have good reasons to think that an explanation for the modal status of theoretical identity statements must be sought elsewhere.



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Fredrik Haraldsen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Citations of this work

De Jure Rigidity.Nicolien Janssens - 2018 - Aporia 18 (1):9-18.

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