Rigid Designation, the Modal Argument, and the Nominal Description Theory
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In this thesis, I describe and evaluate two recent accounts of naming. These accounts are motivated by Kripke?s response to Russell?s Description Theory of Names (DTN). Particularly, I consider Kripke?s Modal Argument (MA) and various arguments that have been given against it, as well as Kripke?s responses to these arguments. Further, I outline a version of MA that has recently been presented by Scott Soames, and consider how he responds to the criticisms that the argument faces. In order to evaluate the claim that MA is decisive against all description theories, I outline the Nominal Description Theory (NDT) put forth by Kent Bach and consider whether it constitutes a principled response to MA. I do so by exploring how Bach both responds to Kripke?s arguments against descriptivism and highlights the problems with rigid designation as a purely semantic thesis. Finally, I consider the relative merits of the accounts put forth by Bach and Soames. Upon doing so, I argue that MA is not as decisive against description theories as it has long been thought to be. In fact, NDT seems to provide a better account of our uses of proper names than the rigid designation thesis as presented by Kripke and Soames.
Cite this work
Jillian Isenberg (2005). Rigid Designation, the Modal Argument, and the Nominal Description Theory. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/746