- The new theory of reference that has recently aroused so much interest, while perhaps not bringing about a revolution, has had the effect of altering the manner and substance of a great deal of philosophy. The theory is plausible and simple and challenges many widely held beliefs. Its proponents have argued, for example, that names and many general terms refer without the mediation of descriptions, that identity statements such as "Tully is Cicero" are not contingent, that there can be synthetic necessary truths discovered a posteriori, and that terms like "gold" and "tiger" do not have definitions in the ordinary sense. In the Introduction to this volume I discuss the challenge the new theory poses to traditional thinking, summarize the arguments for these claims, and try to assess some of its contributions to philosophy.
- Two articles by Saul Kripke, "Naming and Necessity" and "Identity and Necessity," are the most complete and influential expressions of the new theory of reference, and have deeply affected current thinking about such topics as reference, naming, natural kinds1, necessity, analyticity, and identity. The latter article is included here. Keith Donnellan and Hilary Putnam have also done pioneering work on these topics and in developing the new theory, and they are heavily represented in this book. I have included works by other authors for various reasons. The articles by William Goosens and Gareth Evans develop certain aspects of the new theory in important ways. They depend heavily on Kripke, Donnellan, and Putnam, but also make significant original contributions. The article by Alvin Plantinga deals with a central problem involved in the possible worlds semantics widely used by Kripke, Putnam, and others. Plantinga's approach to possible worlds is helpful in making clear some of the features of this important tool. I have also included two articles that predate the new theory of reference, those by W. V. Quine and Irving Copi. Probably the most important contribution the new theory makes is to increase our understanding of natural kinds2 and the terms that purport to refer to them. Both Quine and Copi express views about natural kinds3 that receive tremendous support from the new theory. These two articles and much of Putnam's writings on natural kinds4 have been cast in a new and more favorable light by Kripke's work.
- In making selections I have tried to include statements covering all the major aspects and applications of the new theory, especially its application to natural kind5 terms. Several of the authors have published much longer works than those that appear here. Both "Naming and Necessity" by Saul Kripke and "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" by Hilary Putnam are more elaborate in their criticisms of traditional thinking, offer more examples, and perhaps attempt to extend the theory somewhat further. I believe, nevertheless, that the articles in this anthology present all the essential aspects, arguments, and notions of the new theory of reference. Those interested in further reading will find other works, including criticisms of the new theory, listed in the Bibliography.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
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