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Future PastsThe Analytic Tradition in Twentieth Century Philosophy$
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Juliet Floyd and Sanford Shieh

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195139167

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019513916X.001.0001

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Meaning, Rigidity, and Modality

Meaning, Rigidity, and Modality

(p.369) 18 Meaning, Rigidity, and Modality
Future Pasts

Sanford Shieh (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Saul Kripke’s “modal argument” against the description theory of proper names turns on a distinction between reference-fixing and meaning-giving. In this essay Shieh argues first that without further explanation of meaning-giving, it is unclear how this argument shows that the meanings of names cannot be given by descriptions. Second, Shieh shows that an explanation of meaning-giving sufficient to sustain the modal argument requires a notion of modal properties of meaning. This notion, in turn, yields a notion of rigidity of names that can be explained in terms of Gareth Evans’s notion of deep necessity. Shieh concludes that Kripke’s modal argument is not based simply on untutored linguistic intuitions or facts of ordinary language use but presupposes substantial metaphysical commitments.

Keywords:   Saul Kripke, Gareth Evans, meaning, proper names, definite descriptions, reference-fixing, meaning-giving, necessity, deep necessity, modal properties, rigidity

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