Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures

Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures by Saul A. Kripke

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Reference and Existence, Saul Kripkes John Locke Lectures for 1973, can be read as a sequel to his classic Naming and Necessity. It confronts important issues left open in that work -- among them, the semantics of proper names and natural kind terms as they occur in fiction and in myth; negative existential statements; the ontology of fiction and myth (whether it is true that fictional characters like Hamlet, or mythical kinds like bandersnatches, might have existed). In treating these questions, he makes a number of methodological observations that go beyond the framework of his earlier book -- including the striking claim that fiction cannot provide a test for theories of reference and naming. In addition, these lectures provide a glimpse into the transition to the pragmatics of singular reference that dominated his influential paper, Speakers Reference and Semantic Reference -- a paper that helped reorient linguistic and philosophical semantics. Some of the themes have been worked out in later writings by other philosophers -- many influenced by typescripts of the lectures in circulation -- but none have approached the careful, systematic treatment provided here. The virtuosity of Naming and Necessity -- the colloquial ease of the tone, the dazzling, on-the-spot formulations, the logical structure of the overall view gradually emerging over the course of the lectures -- is on display here as well.
Publication Date:
03 / 04 / 2013

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