An established theory of reference challenged and an original "epistemic" alternative offered
Naming and Necessity for Human Beings
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Jay F. Rosenberg
Having viewed Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity (1972) with skepticism from its inception, Jay Rosenberg now articulates his quarrels with Kripke's texts and views regarding necessity, reference, and belief. Rosenberg argues, for example, that Kripke's treatment of proper names as "rigid designators" allows no coherent account of how such names can function as they actually do in thought and communication.
Following his analyses of what he considers flawed "causal-historical" and "descriptivist" approaches, the author sketches a new "epistemic" account of names. Rosenberg's theory understands names not as devices for empirically related language users to objects, but as instruments for structuring and channeling the transmission and accumulation of descriptive content within a linguistic community.
Beyond Formalism concludes with a critical reassessment of the appropriate relationships among natural languages, mathematical formalisms, and philosophical commitments. The columniation of twenty years' reflection, this original, sophisticated book will be of interest and importance to philosophers, linguists, and others who work in the philosophy of language.
"An important contribution to the ongoing controversy over the semantics of reference.... With exceptional patience and clarity, [Rosenberg] lays out the various elements of the Kripkean outlook...and offers an exceptionally intelligent and crisp view, well worthy of being widely disseminated to those interested in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic."
Jay F. Rosenberg is Taylor Grandy Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina. He is the author of several books, including The Thinking Self (Temple).