[hist-analytic] Steve's Latest

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Oct 27 09:33:29 EDT 2009



Bruce has attempted an answer to the question: 



'What evidence do I have for believing a name is a rigid designator?" 

(A rigid designator being one that designates the same thing in all 

worlds in which it designates). Here is his answer: 



"It does so, I said, thinking of “the inventor of bifocals” in the sentence I used, because it is being used referentially to pick out a certain person rather than picking out whatever person is taken to have invented bifocals in an assumed possible world or context of discussion. 



How I know it is a rigid designator and how it designates across worlds etc are two, 

not one, question. Admittedly, there may have been some ambiguity in the way 

I phrased matters, but I did ask for why I should believe any designator is rigid. I 

gave Kripke's own reply which depended ESSENTIALLY on INTUITION. Bruce restates the 

problem in his answer. For even if we accept the idea that if a designator designates 

by "picking out whatever person is taken to have invented bifocals in an assumed possible 

world or context of discussion" the question remains "How do I kow this term designates the 

same thing in all possible worlds? Now Bruce slides over this by wording it this way "an 

assumed world," but this alters matters. Now we have to talk about "assumed worlds." What 

Kripke says is "all possible worlds," not "an assumed" world. So the question remains: 

How do I KNOW that a name designatees the same thing in any "assumed" world. 



Kripke is RIGHT! I have to rely on intuition. There is no higher authority. There is no 

other convincing authority. His argument depends on meeting what he calls the "intuitive 

test." (NN. p. 48).That test is whether intuition justifies saying " This man might have 

done such and such." How do I know that the man who might have done such and such 

is this man? Intuition and intuition alone. Now I think this is a strong argument. I think 

it is the right way to go. My "beef" with the theory is the way it has been interpreted in 

relation to other theories, theories Kripke knows little or nothing about, something he 

FREELY admits. But his theory of rigid designators per se is, I think, right; partly 

because it answers Leibniz. In fact if you look at Kripke's rejection of Leibniz you 

will find his view against Leibniz is very close to Kant's. BOTH philosophers rely 

on intuition. But why should this matter? 



It matters because if we do rely on intuitions, ala Kripke, then we have a problem 

with the idea that we know necessary identities a posteriori. We in fact do not; 

we know them by to be necessary by intution, ie. the intuition that the designators 

are indeed rigid. But then what happens to Bruce's empiricism, one that depends 

on Kripke? Well, we are back to a priori intuitions whic are NOT empirical. 



I'll get back with more. I appreciate Bruce's understanding that I am swamped, trying 

to figure all these html codes, and pdf this stuff, and finish the final wording of the 

book. So I do appreciate that very much. So this posting  is also written "on the fly" 

and I may take a closer look. But I've got to get back to that "crazy" exception Bruce 

discusses to MP. It' fun stuff! 



Regards 



STeve 




"----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune1 at verizon.net> 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com 
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:30:01 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Steve's Latest 


Steve may have a little too much on his plate right now. He may be trying to respond to too much input by me and others.   I hate to pile more on top of him, but I do want to address a personal matter that Steve raised when he said, in his last post: “Sometimes Bruce seems to suggest that I am in a state of complete ignorance and bewilderment over Kripke. For example he says ‘Steve wonders why a certain designator (i.e. a certain description) should designate the same thing in all possible worlds." Then he goes on to give an account that simply does not answer the question!” 

I assure you all that I had no intention of suggesting that Steve is in such a state. I made the remark Steve cites in response to a question he asked in his comments on my chapter 2.   He asked, “What do I appeal to in order to justify the INFERENCE to the conclusion that the two designators designate the same thing in all worlds, and that that they do so is necessary a posteriori. It may be obvious, but do we rely on intuition, definition, or do we revert to some theorems in one of many of the modal systems where rigidity doesn’t ever really enter?” The answer I gave, which Steve says “simply does not [really] answer the question,” does give my reason for believing that a certain designator “should, in his words, “designate the same thing in all possible worlds.” It does so, I said, thinking of “the inventor of bifocals” in the sentence I used, because it is being used referentially to pick out a certain person rather than picking out whatever person is taken to have invented bifocals in an assumed possible world or context of discussion. If we are thinking of a situation in which we regard the term as applying to Thomas Jefferson, say, we are using the term non-rigidly; if we use it to refer to a certain person, Benjamin Franklin, whom we may think of as not, in some situation, being the inventor of bifocals, we re using it rigidly. Used this last way, we could coherently think, “The inventor of bifocals might not have invented bifocals.” Compare “The man over there drinking a Martini might possibly have been drinking a glass of water instead.” 

His last post shows that Steve is now reading Kripke. (I am not suggesting that he has not done so numerous times.) But if he is evaluating the argument I gave in my second chapter (ascertaining whether its conclusion is true, which concerned me, not whether it is involves a good reading of the argument Kripke actually gave, which concerns me only secondarily), Kripke’s actual thinking about rigid designators is not centrally important. Suppose I stipulate that I am using the term “the inventor of bifocals” in the following sentence purely referentially to pick out the person who, as it happened (as we know in empirical grounds), did invent bifocals but may (might possibly have) failed to do so: “Benjamin Franklin = the inventor of bifocals.” I contend that the following sentence, with the define description so understood, is true:   Benjamin Franklin = the inventor of bifocals -->  N(Benjamin Franklin = the inventor of bifocals).   (The sentence is a UI consequence of the theorem Steve attributes to Ruth Marcus.) If we know a posteriori that the antecedent is true and, on the basis of that knowledge, conclude that N(Benjamin Franklin = the inventor of bifocals), we shall know a posteriori (for the reason I gave in an earlier post) that N(Benjamin Franklin = the inventor of bifocals).   But since what we know here is necessary, we have an element of a posteriori knowledge that is necessary rather than contingent. 

Best, Bruce 
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