Almog was Right, Kripke’s Causal Theory is Trivial

Philosophia 51 (3):1627-1641 (2023)
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Joseph Almog pointed out that Kripkean causal chains not only exist for names, but for all linguistic items (Almog 1984: 482). Based on this, he argues that the role of such chains is the presemantic one of assigning a linguistic meaning to the use of a name (1984: 484). This view is consistent with any number of theories about what such a linguistic meaning could be, and hence with very different views about the semantic reference of names. He concludes that the causal theory is ‘rather trivial’ (1984: 487). In this paper I argue that Almog is correct to hold that the causal theory is trivial, but, contra Almog, argue that the triviality of the existence of causal chains is not a matter of such chains having a presemantic role in assigning linguistic meanings to utterances. Instead, such triviality is due to the fact that the causal theory reflects no more than a truism about the epistemology of convention acquisition.



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J. P. Smit
University of Stellenbosch

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Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.

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