[hist-analytic] RBJ's Proposal and and Hume's Fork

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Feb 27 09:33:30 EST 2009


Hi Steve,

 

Here are sundry comments.

 

 

<<communication requires public rules in order to have language>>

 

 

If that were so, how could communication ever get off the ground? Surely the
public rules become established through successful attempts at
communication?

 

 

<< Is "'a' is a rigid designator" determined by fact or stipulation? Is it
"analytic" if true?>>

 

 

It depends what 'a' refers to. If it refers to an uninterpreted sound or
inscription, it is necessarily false. If it refers to an interpreted symbol,
it is either necessarily true or necessarily false, depending on whether the
symbol (as interpreted) either is or is not a name which designates
something. What makes the statement true or false is the meaning (sense and
reference) of what is referred to by 'a.'

 

Suppose I introduce a new name and stipulate its reference by means of a
reference-fixing definite description, thus:

 

By 'a' I mean the US president in February 2009.

 

I am doing two things. First I am making a necessarily true (so long as I am
not lying, etc.) statement about a particular language, namely, English
augmented by 'a.' Second I am actually bringing into existence that
particular language by my 'performative' utterance. 

 

The reference-fixing statement is thus always necessarily true or
necessarily false. But by making it I stipulate which language I am talking
about.

 

 

<<If it is an empirical claim that 'Cicero' is a rigid designator, then what
is the evidence?>>

 

 

I think it is an empirical claim. While it is true that anyone who
understands it, and thus understands that 'Cicero' is a proper name, must
thereby know that 'Cicero' is a rigid designator, if it designates anything,
it is nevertheless an empirical question whether 'Cicero' does in fact
designate anything (we could all be mistaken). The empirical evidence
concerns whether Cicero exists.

 

All this is written off the top of my head, so I am not reporting any
positions taken in the literature, though what I say may coincide with some.
I have not read the literature for two decades, so I cannot remember what
positions were taken twenty years ago and I haven't the faintest idea what
positions are taken now.

 

I think (he said hesitatingly) that it is uncontroversial that rigid
designation implies essentialism.

 

Danny

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://rbjones.com/pipermail/hist-analytic_rbjones.com/attachments/20090227/1d1952c4/attachment-0002.html>


More information about the hist-analytic mailing list