Saul Kripke

Saul Kripke

G. W. Fitch
Series: Philosophy Now
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 209
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  • Book Info
    Saul Kripke
    Book Description:

    Saul Kripke's work has had a tremendous impact on philosophy in the last thirty years and continues to dominate key debates in the field. In the first introduction to his philosophy written expressly for general students, G.W. Fitch provides a thorough exposition of Kripke's ideas. Beginning with a discussion of the early work on modal logic, the foundation for many of his later philosophical contributions, Fitch also examines the central ideas and arguments in Naming and Necessity, including Kripke's account of ordinary proper names, theories of reference, the conception of necessity, and the nature of identity. He goes on to discuss Kripke's views on theoretical identifications, the puzzle of belief, and his argument against materialism as well as outlining his work on semantic paradoxes, his theory of truth, and his controversial interpretation of Wittgenstein's famous private language argument. Kripke's ideas are situated alongside those of his precursors and some of the most important and interesting responses to them are explored. Fitch clarifies Kripke's ground-breaking contributions to philosophy and shows how they have challenged traditional interpretations.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8182-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Saul A. Kripke is one of the most creative and influential philosophers of the twentieth century. It is not an exaggeration to say that he helped change the face of analytic philosophy in the last half of the century. He was born in New York on 13 November 1940. When he was a young child his family moved to Nebraska, where he was raised. Even as a child Kripke exhibited a great talent for mathematics together with an interest in philosophical questions. It is reported that he read the complete works of Shakespeare while in the fourth grade and he...

  5. Chapter 1 Necessity
    (pp. 1-26)

    Necessity has been called the mother of invention. In philosophy, however, the notion of necessity is viewed in a different and somewhat more controversial light. In certain philosophical circles necessity is viewed as the root of much, if not all, philosophical error. In the latter half of the twentieth century, W. V. Quine, one of America’s most influential philosophers, claimed that the logic of necessity, now referred to asmodal logic,was conceived in sin: the (logical) sin of confusing use with mention. In this philosophical environment, Saul Kripke published his earliest work on modal logic. Kripke’s work in modal...

  6. Chapter 2 Names
    (pp. 27-52)

    The linguistic turn that philosophy took at the beginning of the twentieth century was not only exhibited as a concern with formal logic, but also manifested itself by an intense enquiry into the nature of linguistic meaning. One of the functions of language is representation or reference. We use linguistic symbols to stand for or represent some item or entity in the world such as a person or an event. While the theories of meaning that were developed in conjunction with formal logic by Frege and Russell differed significantly in their approach to language generally, they took similar approaches to...

  7. Chapter 3 Reference and belief
    (pp. 53-86)

    In presenting his objections to descriptivism, Kripke assumes that both descriptions and names satisfy the general scheme that:

    (R) The referent of ‘X’ is X

    where ‘X’ is to be replaced by a name or a definite description. Kripke sees this as a point of agreement between himself and those (such as Russell) who adopt some version of descriptivism. But although it is likely that Russell would have accepted Kripke’s (R), Donnellan (1966) had objected to Russell’s theory of descriptions on the grounds that his theory incorrectly assumes (R) for definite descriptions. This led some philosophers to think that if...

  8. Chapter 4 Identity statements
    (pp. 87-114)

    Identity is perhaps the simplest of relations and yet it is at the centre of many philosophical controversies. For example, are mental states identical to physical states? The mind–brain identity theory holds that the mind is identical to the brain, at least in the sense that all mental states are identical to brain states. This theory depends, in part, on a certain view about the nature of identity; namely, that some identity statements express contingent truths or what are sometimes calledcontingent identities.Independent of the resolution of the mind-body problem, this view of identity has had wide support,...

  9. Chapter 5 Definitions and theoretical identifications
    (pp. 115-136)

    One of Kripke’s principal themes inNaming and Necessityand elsewhere is the distinction between the metaphysical status of a statement and its epistemic status. In Chapter 4 we considered the status of identity statements involving ordinary proper names and Kripke’s arguments that such claims are examples of necessary a posteriori truths. In this chapter we continue Kripke’s theme of the importance of separating the epistemic status of a statement from its metaphysical status by first considering the claim that there are contingent a priori truths; then we consider Kripke’s views on theoretical identifications. Kripke argues for a version of...

  10. Chapter 6 Truth
    (pp. 137-148)

    In the 1970s, Kripke turned his attention to the problem of semantic paradoxes. It is not surprising that Kripke was interested in this issue, given his interest in puzzles and formal logic. The problem, in a nutshell, is how is it possible to have a truth predicate apply to sentences that themselves contain a truth predicate? This is an ancient problem and it is often called the problem of the liar. According to the ancient version of the liar paradox, Epimenides, a Cretan, is supposed to have asserted the sentence ‘All Cretans are liars’. Given certain empirical assumptions, this sentence...

  11. Chapter 7 Wittgenstein and meaning
    (pp. 149-170)

    One of the features of Kripke’s philosophical preoccupations that can be seen in much of his work is his interest in puzzles and paradoxes. We find him commenting on the paradox of identity, the puzzle of belief, the paradox of the liar, the surprise exam paradox (unpublished) and so on. So it is perhaps not too surprising that in 1982 Kripke published in book form his commentary on Wittgenstein’s famous private language argument.Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Expositionpresents a skeptical paradox and a “skeptical solution” based on Kripke’s reading of Wittgenstein’sPhilosophical Investigations.Like all...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 171-174)

    Saul Kripke’s philosophy has had a great influence on the direction of analytic philosophy in the latter part of the twentieth century. His published work on logic, modality, reference, truth and meaning is widely discussed today and the literature related to Kripke’s ideas is vast (as a simple glance at the limited Bibliography in this book will attest). Among the views that Kripke has presented and developed is the view that the relation of reference between words and the world is not what had been thought for most of the twentieth century. The traditional view was that reference takes place...

  13. The published work of Saul Kripke
    (pp. 175-176)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-190)
  15. Index
    (pp. 191-194)