- My task today is an unusual and not very pleasant one. I am not here to debate the adequacy of any philosophical thesis. Rather, my job is to assess claims involving credit and blame. According to Quentin Smith, the central doctrines of Naming and Necessity, were developed by Ruth Marcus in her pioneering papers on quantified modal logic1 in the late 40's, and in her paper "Marcus (Ruth Barcan) - Modalities and Intensional Languages" in 1961. Smith maintains that Saul Kripke learned these doctrines from her, initially misunderstood them, and, when he later straightened things out, mistakenly took the doctrines to be his own. Finally, Kripke is supposed to have published them without properly citing her. The entire profession was allegedly fooled, despite the fact that Kripke and Marcus were among its most well-known members, and their work was familiar to leading researchers in the field. For years nobody said anything. Now, more than 20 years later, Smith claims to be bringing the truth to light.
- In what follows I show that the charges Smith makes against Kripke are false, and that the historical picture he paints is inaccurate. However, before I begin, I want to make clear that although Smith takes himself to be championing Marcus, my criticisms are of him, not her. I take a back seat to no one in my respect, admiration, and affection for both Ruth and Saul. As you will see from my comments on particular matters of substance, Marcus, along with certain other philosophers, do deserve credit for anticipating important aspects of contemporary theories of reference. However this credit in no way diminishes the seminal role of Saul Kripke.
- With this in mind let me review some of the accomplishments of Ruth Marcus2. She is, deservedly, one of the most distinguished and well-known philosophers in America. She is widely recognized and admired for her pioneering work in quantified modal logic3, and for her important contributions to a variety of related topics. ….
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