• StreetlightX
    3.4k
    Yes. And that is a fact about Nixon. Indeed, we can only posit that he might have had a different name because we can refer to him with the rigid designator "Nixon". How could we make sense of "The man named 'Nixon' may have had a different name"... Only by indexing it to the actual world: "The man who in the actual world is named 'Nixon' might have been given another name". That sort of index is implied by the very shared language we are using for this conversation.Banno

    If people can get this, they can get Kripke.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Thanks! Yes, that's the core.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    ...there is no apparent logical difference between the use of a name like 'Richard Milhous Nixon' to refer to someone, and the use of the DD 'The person whose name is "Richard Milhous Nixon" ' — andrewk


    Nixon may have had another name. Then he would not be the person whose name is Nixon.
    Banno

    That there is no apparent logical difference between the two is shown by the fact that "Nixon might have had another name" is equivalent to 'The person whose name is 'Nixon' might have had another name".

    Yes. And that is a fact about Nixon. Indeed, we can only posit that he might have had a different name because we can refer to him with the rigid designator "Nixon". How could we make sense of "The man named 'Nixon' may have had a different name"... Only by indexing it to the actual world: "The man who in the actual world is named 'Nixon' might have been given another name". That sort of index is implied by the very shared language we are using for this conversation. — Banno


    If people can get this, they can get Kripke.
    StreetlightX

    Finally! Surprisingly (given it has been ignored and rejected out of hand by @Banno) this is exactly what I have been arguing, most specifically the bit about indexing DDs to the actual world. Of course every element of discourse, including names as rigid designators, must be indexed to the actual world, since that is where all our discourses happen.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    That there is no apparent logical difference between the two is shown by the fact that "Nixon might have had another name" is equivalent to 'The person whose name is 'Nixon' might have had another name".Janus

    No, they are not. "Nixon might have had a different name" is about Nixon. "The person named 'Nixon' might have had a different name" is about a person named 'Nixon'. That person might not be Nixon. Hence they are not equivalent.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    "The man named 'Nixon'" and "Nixon" both pick out Nixon. I'm not suggesting that the former is rigid. Rather, I'm pointing out that either and/or both can be used for the same purpose in common speech. To pick the individual out.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    ...that is a fact about Nixon. Indeed, we can only posit that he might have had a different name...Banno

    Possibilities are not facts on my view. That's a quibble. Kripke talks like that too...

    Contingent facts... I guess...???
  • Janus
    6.7k
    The person named 'Nixon' might have had a different name" is about a person named 'NixonBanno

    No, you got it wrong again; it is about THE person named 'Nixon'. 'A person named "Nixon'" is about A person named 'Nixon'.

    Judicious use of the definite and indefinite articles will eliminate any confusion you may have about this.
  • Janus
    6.7k


    Both are rigid if they are qualified as such and neither are rigid if not. They are logically equivalent.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Sentence, then. That sentence is about Nixon.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Both are rigid if they are qualified as such and neither are rigid if not. They are logically equivalent.Janus

    Publish it. Change modal logic forever.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    That's a lame response!
  • andrewk
    2k
    It seems that the argument over the statement

    (0) 'The man named "Nixon" might have had a different name'

    arises because one side uses a method in which the DD is used as to pick out an individual in this world, and then to contemplate alternate worlds for that individual, and the the other uses a method in which the DD is also evaluated in alternate possible worlds.

    These correspond to two different elaborations of the sentence:

    (1) 'The man that is called "Nixon" in this world might have had a different name in an alternate world'

    (2) 'The man that is called "Nixon" in all possible worlds in an ensemble S might have had a different name in one of those worlds'

    So disagreement just arises from different ways of filling out the overly-abbreviated and hence vague statement (0).

    N&N is not much help in resolving this as Kripke fails to address accessibility relations, which determine what the ensemble of possible worlds under consideration is.
  • Wallows
    7.1k


    I talked about this issue in the de re and de dicto distinction. Have we arrived at this point yet?
  • Wallows
    7.1k
    N&N is not much help in resolving this as Kripke fails to address accessibility relations, which determine what the ensemble of possible worlds under consideration is.andrewk

    Kripke doesn't provide any grounds for counterfactual definitiveness; but, nowadays it's assumed that the same laws of physics and of nature are the grounds where accessibility relations are maintained. AFAIK, theories like the many world hypothesis don't even maintain counterfactual definitiveness, so good luck with accessibility relations wrt. to that theory.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k


    Well methodology is certainly a big part of the problem, but I don't think that that report quite captures it. It runs much deeper than the scope of that account allows us to dig.


    Both are rigid if they are qualified as such and neither are rigid if not. They are logically equivalent.Janus

    Above we have the supposition that being a rigid designator is no different than having been called such by a community of language users. If they are "qualified as such" is just another way of saying that they are called such, or defined as such. In other words, a thing is a rigid designator by definition alone; because we say so.

    So, let's give this a bit of consideration. If we hold to such a notion, the only thing that makes a rigid designator what it is is it's having been given the namesake "rigid designator". I am being reminded of Witt's often referenced(pun intended) argument against essentialism:What counts as being a game is being called such. The only thing that some things have in common is that they've been given and so they share the same name.

    Sure... One could say that. Lots of folk tend to think that that's the case or that that's a good argument far more often than I think it is. However, I mean, to be fair and all - that is how naming and descriptive practices work, right?

    Furthermore, also supporting this kind of thinking is the fact that there are all sorts of different common ways to talk about possible worlds. Kripke suggests that whether or not "The man named 'Nixon' is a rigid designator is determined by what's going on during specific kinds of possible world discourse. There's more than one criterion for what counts as a possible world. So, right off the bat Kripke dismisses some of these other common ways to talk in terms of possible worlds, and stipulates cases when we pick an individual entity out of this world to the exclusion of all others by virtue of using it's proper name.


    In light of the actual world...

    "The person named 'Nixon'" can be successfully used as a means to pick a person named Nixon out if more than one person have been given the name. One of many. The same is true of "Nixon". Neither picks the referent out to the exclusion of all others in such actual circumstances.

    However...

    "The person named 'Nixon' is capable of being used to successfully pick out a unique individual to the exclusion of all others in the actual world. I mean, it does and can be used as a means for successful reference in certain actual circumstances. In other actual circumstances, the same descriptor cannot. However, this is also clearly the case with the use of "Nixon" as well.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    The deeper issue is this:Do rigid designators exist in their entirety prior to our calling them such, prior to our account of them? Are they discovered. Are they invented?

    Successful reference most certainly existed in it's entirety prior to our account of it. Or if you'd rather... we most certainly successfully referred to many things in many ways long prior to our taking account of those facts.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    If we can successfully pick an individual out to the exclusion of all others by name, by description, or by both - in this world - then it doesn't make much sense to me for one to argue against that wholesale by virtue of stipulating specific possible world semantics that lead to claiming otherwise.

    If A is necessary for a case of successful reference in this world, it makes no sense at all - to me at least - to say that it's not simply because we can imagine otherwise.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    If the meaning of a name is equivalent to "the thing named 'X'" then the descriptor "the thing named 'X'" should be able to stand in place of the name by virtue of substitution alone without sacrificing meaning, truth conditions, or pre-existing coherency should our candidate for substitution be a coherent expression excised from a larger framework.

    It cannot.

    Kripke shows that much.

    If the meaning of a name(X) is equal to "the thing named 'X'" then the meaning of names would be equivalent to/with a referent and/or a description. Meaning is equivalent to neither one, that's true no matter how anyone fucking defines their terms.

    That's point of view invariant. Meaning is attributed long before we take account of it.

    The meaning of the following descriptor - "the thing named 'X'" - is not equivalent to the referent of 'X', but "the thing named 'X' can be used to pick out the thing named 'X'. The thing named 'X' is the referent of "the thing named 'X'" .X is the referent of "X".

    Rather, meaning is attributed to solely by virtue of the correlations one draws between the name and something other than the name. After, and only after, meaning has been attributed to 'X' by more than one speaker by virtue of drawing the same(or similar enough) correlation(s) between 'X' something other than the name, can 'X' be used to pick out the thing named 'X'.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    If the thing named "X" existed in it's entirety prior to our calling it by name. then it makes no sense at all to say that the referent of "X" is existentially dependent upon how we define "X".
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    The tree is not existentially dependent upon being named.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    Both are rigid if they are qualified as such and neither are rigid if not. They are logically equivalent.Janus

    Above we have the supposition that being a rigid designator is no different than having been called such by a community of language users.creativesoul

    No, its that a name or a definite description suitably indexed to the actual world just is a rigid designator. It will logically qulaify as such on account of its ability to uniquely pick out just one entity.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    1a.)"using naming practices without ever having used descriptive practices"
    1b.)"using naming practices without using descriptive practices"

    2a.)"using descriptive practices without ever having used naming practices"
    2b.)"using descriptive practices without using naming practices"

    If there are no actual cases of 2a(None have been found) and one keeps aware of that, then it makes no sense to use 2b as justificatory ground for claiming that picking a unique individual out to the exclusion of all others depends upon descriptive practices.

    That which is prior to something else cannot be existentially dependent upon that something else. Successful reference can and does happen in the actual world by virtue of naming practices alone. We do this without ever having used descriptive practices. Successfully picking out a thing by name identifies the thing. The thing is the referent. The name identifies the referent.

    In all cases of 2b, there had already been naming practices.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    Here in Wales there has always been a great shortage of names, and almost everyone has to make do with 'Jones' or 'Williams'. Accordingly, there has arisen the tradition of appending the occupation to the name. This is not unique to Wales, and so there are many surnames that are occupations - 'Smith', 'Baker', 'Cooke', and so on.

    So 'Bob the Builder' starts out as a rigid designator - 'Bob', and an appended disambiguating description. Just as there is more than one Nixon, so there is more than one Bob. Such names are rigid, but not definite. But once I have made clear that it is Bob the builder I am referring to and not Bob the sagger-maker's bottom-knocker, then it is the same person I am referring to whatever I am saying: "Bob might have been called 'Sam' and joined the fire service." If he had, of course he would not have been called 'Bob the Builder', but 'Fireman Sam'. But for this to have any meaning, it must be Bob who would have been called Sam, and Bob who would have joined the fire service - to suppose that Fireman Sam was called 'Sam' and joined the fire service is to suppose nothing at all, and simply to have changed the subject of discussion - It's a whole other story.

    The rigidity of the name is inherent in the way we speak. In due course, Bob might have a son, who due to the aforementioned name shortage is also called Bob, and as often happens, he might follow his father's profession. And then we would need to further disambiguate Bob the Builder and Bob Builderson, or Bob the Builder Senior and Bob the Builder Junior, or some other scheme; thus there is a flow between names and descriptions...

    But there is not the same flow between definiteness and rigidity. There are many builders named, Bob, and there are at least 2 philosophers named Bob on this very thread. But there is only one Bob the Builder, and here he is:



    Accept no imitations! #therealbobthebuilder.

    One might say that the rigidity of names is a function of their arbitrariness; they are Humpty-Dumpty-an in meaning exactly what the speaker intends:

    "I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "
    "But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

    This totalitarian anarchy becomes unworkable applied to the whole language, but limited to names, and signalled by a beginning capital, it seems to work just fine. 'Alice' means the Alice I am talking about and none other, and you don't know which Alice I am talking about until I tell you (It's Alice-through-the-Looking-Glass). In the same way, there are many builder's named 'Bob', but only one Bob-the-Builder.

    Names are rigid even if ambiguous, whereas if descriptions are ambiguous, they are not definite.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    In light of the actual world...

    "The person named 'Nixon'" can be successfully used as a means to pick a person named Nixon out even if more than one person have been given the name. One of many. The same is true of "Nixon". Neither picks the referent out to the exclusion of all others in such actual circumstances.

    However...

    "The person named 'Nixon' is capable of being used to successfully pick out a unique individual to the exclusion of all others in the actual world. I mean, it does and can be used as a means for successful reference in certain actual circumstances. In other actual circumstances, the same descriptor cannot. However, this is also clearly the case with the use of "Nixon" as well.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The earlier account of four different actual circumstance is above . These deserve a bit more attention.



    Here, we must bring the language users' thought, belief, and/or knowledge into the mix, because here is where their consideration sheds a bit of much needed light. I think a strong criticism of externalist accounts is that they do not do this, and the language users' thought/belief matters because thought/belief have efficacy. It is solely by virtue of thought/belief that any and all meaning is attributed. Kripke's notion of a causal chain of reference, Banno's invocation of shared meaning, Janus and andrewk's referring to context of historical use, and Un's recent introduction of ambiguity all skirt around it.


    When listener and speaker know how to use the description, know how to use the name, and know of only one Nixon, then both the name "Nixon" and the description "the person named 'Nixon'" can be and are actually used to successfully pick out one individual to the exclusion of all others. That's always the case in those particular circumstances.

    When listener and speaker know how to use the description, know how to use the name, and the speaker knows of more than one, but the listener knows of only one, then both the name "Nixon" and the description "the person named 'Nixon'" can be and are actually used to successfully pick out one individual to the exclusion of all others. That is not always the case in those particular circumstances. The speaker could be referring to a different individual than the one the listener knows of.

    When listener and speaker know how to use the description, know how to use the name, and the speaker knows of only one Nixon, but the listener knows of more than one, then neither the name "Nixon" nor the description "the person named 'Nixon'" is capable of successfully picking out one individual to the exclusion of all others.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    Amidst substantive revision...
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    Both refer to the man named "Nixon", necessarily so.
    — creativesoul
    No. "Nixon" refers to Nixon. "The man named 'Nixon'" refers to the man with that name.
    Banno

    That is Nixon.

    "The man named Nixon" is no less and/or no more capable of picking Nixon out of this world than "Nixon" is.
  • Snakes Alive
    348
    I find the "individual named Nixon" description analysis of the name "Nixon" to be very amusing in a macabre way. It's so perfectly indicative of a certain style of bad philosophizing that it's just, *mwah*. It's almost a perfect confluence of confused thinking.

    I can't blame anyone, though – actual analytic philosophers proposed such a thing at various times.
  • Snakes Alive
    348
    For anyone who's interested as to why the view is wrong, it's because it predicts a de dicto reading of "Nixon might not have been named Nixon" that is contradictory. Apparently there is no such reading. One also has to deal with the thorny question of how to characterize name-bearing in a non-circular manner if one seriously adopts such an analysis – think about it seriously for five minutes, and it will dawn how utterly bizarre things become.

    Of course, then one might say what they meant is "the individual actually named Nixon," where "actual" is to be read as some sort of indexical picking out the actual world. But then, oh dear, we have a rigid designator referring to Nixon, which was Kripke's hypothesis.
  • Isaac
    345
    Of course, then one might say what they meant is "the individual actually named Nixon," where "actual" is to be read as some sort of indexical picking out the actual world. But then, oh dear, we have a rigid designator referring to Nixon, which was Kripke's hypothesis.Snakes Alive

    This seems to be escaping the issue of actual world designation with more than a little hand-waiving. I think if you want to justify your rather hyperbolic tone at the beginning of this post you'll need to do a bit better than just "... we have a rigid designator referring to Nixon" as if the matter were self-evident from there.
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