Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Naming and Possibility

Date: 06 June 2018

Time: 15:00

Place: Seminari de Filosofia UB

Abstract

In this talk I will revisit some of the main topics in Kripke's Naming and Necessity, with special emphasis on the rigidity thesis about the semantics of proper names, and its connections (or disconnections) with counterfactual thinking, as well as with metaphysical issues such as essentialism and the necessity of identity. Two notions of rigidity will be distinguished, one which I call 'naive rigidity' which is intuitive and neutral enough with respect to metaphysical commitments; and another which will be labelled 'K–rigidity', and which is (I will argue) the one that is actually operative in Kripke's work – at the very least, it is the one (and not naive rigidity) that gives room to all the topics that follow the rationale surrounding the rigidity thesis and the criticisms to descriptivist theories – and the one that is metaphysically loaded. In the discussion, I will suggest that what makes Kripke depart from naive rigidity is the violation of an important methodological principle that he himself literally states in his rejection of a certain way of dealing with the philosophical notion of possible worlds – he thus writes: "That is not the way we ordinarily think of counterfactual situations" (p. 44). I will turn this statement on him, and argue that the type of restrictions that K–rigidity imposes on our cognitive mechanism of 'transposing' objects across worlds and, relatedly, on the use of proper names, is actually in fundamental conflict with "the way we ordinarily think of counterfactual situations".