[hist-analytic] Knowing that I know a Necessary Truth

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at btinternet.com
Wed Jan 12 08:22:43 EST 2011


Hi Roger,

I think it is generally accepted by analytic philosophers that names in
ordinary language are usually rigid designators (I would hesitate to say
'always'). This also seems to be the opinion of LaPorte, in the
encyclopaedia article available here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rigid-designators/

I guess the claim would apply to all natural languages. Quinean types might
even say that it must do, since a purported name in another language that
was not rigid would not be correctly translated into English as a name. I do
not endorse that argument myself.

Indeed, I think that even if we accept that all names in English are rigid
designators at the moment, we might (given some good arguments) come to
change the way that we conceive of names as referring, so that they end up
not being rigid designators. This would parallel the way in which 'water' at
one time referred only to a liquid but after the chemical revolution came to
refer also to ice and steam (all of which are H2O). Quite how we describe
what happened there is a matter for debate (see Kuhn's paper on 'Dubbing and
Redubbing').

Danny





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