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Names are rigid designators so the description theory of names is wrong - Essay Example

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Names are rigid designators so the description theory of names is wrong

Some of the contributors to the development of this theory' is attributed to Kripke, Putnam and Wettstein.
According to Kripke, proper names and definite descriptions are designators. That is, in every possible world they designate the same object. Kripke distinguishes the meaning of a designator and the way its reference is determined. Then he puts forth his causal theory of naming: initially, the reference of a name is fixed by some operation such as description then the name is passed from link to link. A name is not identified by a set of unique properties satisfied by the referent: the speaker may have erroneous beliefs about those properties or they may not be unique. The name is passed to the speaker by tradition from link to link.
Kripke rejects the view that either proper or common nouns are associated with properties that serve to select what they are referring to. Both proper and common names have a referent. The property cannot determine the reference as the object might not have that property in all worlds. For example, gold might not be yellow in all worlds. Kripke's causal theory of names assumes that names are linked to their referents through a casual chain. A term applies directly to an object via a connection that was set in place by the initial naming of the object. A nonrigid designator is a term that changes its referent across possible worlds.
The Nature of Names

Consider, for example, a Biology class out on a field trip. Walking in the woods, the professor asks the students to identify the plants that they encounter. A student is asked to identify a plant. Seeing that the plant has thorns, has red flowers that are well known to be a symbol of love and lives in the wilderness, the student names the plant as a Wild Rose. Thus, the naming was based on descriptions that were learned and passed on to the student. Can we therefore say that naming, specifically proper names, are based on descriptions That is, is the Old Theory essentially correct
In this paper we, argue that naming is not essentially descriptive but is actually an exercise of designating rigidly. Nevertheless, in this paper, we also argue that naming does have some degree of descriptive being.

Naming Without Conceptualization

In this philosophical argument, we find that there is a need to use real world examples to do away with the abstractions and complications that a discussion such as this would entail.
The unifying string of this paper's argument is that a person could refer to an object by indicating its name without actually knowing the descriptions of the object that he doesn't have a concept of - no knowledge of any descriptions or whatsoever that may give the person naming an idea of the object/person being named. It would then follow that it is possible to name an object without substantial conceptualization. If it is possible to name objects without such conceptualization, then a theory of the meaning of names should not be secluded to such elements. Note that we use the word secluded. By conceptualization, ...Show more


During the 1970's, the so called New Theory of Reference became widespread and is still flourishing today. This theory forwards the notion that that many locutions such as proper names refer directly to items or are "rigid designators". In contrast to the New Theory of Reference, the "Old theory" implies that names and relevantly similar locutions express descriptive senses or are disguised descriptions…
Author : arunolfsdottir
Names are rigid designators so the description theory of names is wrong essay example
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