Naming and Necessity 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0631128014
ISBN-10: 0631128018
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Brilliant and very influential . . . stands up as an impressive and enduring work of philosophy, outstanding in its sweep, clarity and penetration."—Colin McGinn, Times Higher Education Supplement


"When these lectures were first published eight years ago, they stood analytic philosophy on its ear. Everybody was either furious, or exhilarated, or thoroughly perplexed. No one was indifferent. This welcome republication provides a chance to look back at a modern classic, and to say something about why it was found so shocking and liberating."—Richard Rorty, London Review of Books

From the Back Cover

Naming and Necessity has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this is it.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Philosophy & Logic
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631128018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631128014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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111 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Maxwell Goss on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
In 1970, Saul Kripke gave a series of three lectures at Princeton University. These lectures, subsequently published under the title _Naming and Necessity_, were quickly recognized as one of those rare events that turns the world of philosophy on its ear. Amazingly, Kripke was a mere 29 years old at the time and he delivered the lectures without any notes. This book reflects both the advantages and shortcomings of the spoken form: it is clear, engaging, and often witty, but it is also repetitive at times and frustratingly incomplete at others.
It is perhaps fitting that Kripke delivered these lectures the same year that Bertrand Russell passed away, since their main target is the descriptivist theory of names associated with Russell. According to Russell - and to the reigning philosophical orthodoxy until 1970 - names are best analyzed as abbreviated definite descriptions, i.e. as unique sets of properties possessed by their bearers. However, Kripke argues that on this analysis, all such properties belong to their possessors necessarily - which is obviously false. For instance, if the name "Billy Strayhorn" just means "The composer of 'Take the "A" Train,'" then there is no possible world in which Billy Strayhorn did not compose the song. But this is false: Even if Billy Strayhorn had never written any songs, he would obviously still be Billy Strayhorn. What a puzzle!
In place of descriptivism, Kripke proposes the theory of direct reference, according to which a name "rigidly designates" its referent in every possible world in which it exists. That is, a name is just a "tag" attached to its referent, with no descriptive content whatsoever. Kripke also proposes an alternative theory for how names are transmitted, the causal theory of names.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Micah Newman on August 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No, really. Kripke maintains a vigorously-argued and important thesis here: the surprising conclusion that statements involving identity (e.g., when calling something or someone out by name) involve a posteriori necessity. This is quite striking because many have assumed that necessity was somehow substantially correlative with the a priori: but that involves a confusion of metaphysical necessity with epistemological necessity. With that idea in place, Kripke goes on to apply (all too briefly, unfortunately) it in some extremely thought-provoking--nay, well-nigh mind-blowing--ideas about things like natural kinds and the mind-body problem. I just wish he had gone into way more detail on these fascinating issues than the three oral lectures transcribed on these 180 or so pages.

If you're reading this review, you've either a) already read this and I don't have to tell you how unique and important it is, or b) maybe have just taken an undergraduate philosophy course that had some lectures on Kripke, and are thinking about checking out the primary literature yourself. If the latter, do so. You'll be enriched, and you might just be taken on a journey from which you'll never return. Philosophers are still, and undoubtedly will continue for some time, discussing the thesis of _Naming and Necessity_ and its implications for at least philosophy of language and metaphysics, and probably philosophy of mind and philosophy of science as well.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Benj Hellie on April 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Millian semantics of proper names; the separation of semantics from the theory of how the semantics gets generated; the staunch insistence on the necessity of identity; the rehabilitation of "non-linguisitic" necessity"; the generation of the class of the necessary a posteriori from the semantics; the extension of the approach to proper names to the semantics of general terms; the consequences for metaphysics and the interpretation of science; the extension of _this_ to the mind-body problem; the tantalizing hints about fictional names; the skepticism about the possibility of conceptual analysis and the cosequent support for rationalist metaphysics; the huge quantity of material to be mined from footnotes -- all of these features and many more are radical and absolutely essential contributions of this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Rubard on January 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Analytic philosophy often boasts of "rigor", going over intellectual distinctions with a fine tooth comb. Yet one of the most famous and rewarding works of said analytic philosophy, *Naming and Necessity*, is a breezy romp through many of the most major problems of linguistic and metaphysical analysis; though informal, it honors those commitments in the breach. Saul Kripke was a teenage genius attracted to the burgeoning field of "modal" logic, publishing his first paper on the topic when he was 19. When he was slightly older (all of 30) he gave lectures at Princeton University on the philosophical consequences of these advances in logic, lectures which are published here in almost unaltered form. Yet even if you know little of the logical principles behind Kripke's arguments, if you have a little sense you are bound to be struck, awed almost, by the scope and plausibility of what he says.

Since analytic philosophy was originally conceived of as "linguistic" philosophy, a vast armamentarium of distinctions and principles for handling the "surface" form of intellectual categories and parts of speech was established by analytic philosophers during the 20th century. Yet Kripke argues that in the case of naming, where a word somehow relates to an extra-linguistic individual object, most of his colleagues got it all wrong. The "received" view in analytic philosophy, dating back to the turn of the century works by Frege and Russell, is that a name is a disguised "definite description" identifying a particular object by means of properties it possesses (or, in the case of a non-existent object, would possess if it was actual).
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