Reference and Description

Reference and Description : The Case against Two-Dimensionalism

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In this book, Scott Soames defends the revolution in philosophy led by Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, and David Kaplan against attack from those wishing to revive descriptivism in the philosophy of language, internalism in the philosophy of mind, and conceptualism in the foundations of modality. Soames explains how, in the last twenty-five years, this attack on the anti-descriptivist revolution has coalesced around a technical development called two-dimensional modal logic that seeks to reinterpret the Kripkean categories of the necessary aposteriori and the contingent apriori in ways that drain them of their far-reaching philosophical significance. Arguing against this reinterpretation, Soames shows how the descriptivist revival has been aided by puzzles and problems ushered in by the anti-descriptivist revolution, as well as by certain errors and missteps in the anti-descriptivist classics themselves. Reference and Description sorts through all this, assesses and consolidates the genuine legacy of Kripke and Kaplan, and launches a thorough and devastating critique of the two-dimensionalist revival of descriptivism.
Through it all, Soames attempts to provide the outlines of a lasting, nondescriptivist perspective on meaning, and a nonconceptualist understanding of modality.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 23.11mm | 510g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 069113099X
  • 9780691130996
  • 1,625,835

Back cover copy

"This outstanding book will define the literature on two-dimensionalism for years to come. Its clear, penetrating analysis and the responses it is sure to provoke from two-dimensionalists will take us the next step forward in our understanding of modality, apriority, and meaning."--Ted Sider, Rutgers University, author of Four-Dimensionalism

"An extremely significant contribution to the field. Two-dimensionalism is a hot--and important--topic in the philosophy of language and mind, and I expect that Reference and Description will become a, or perhaps even the, standard criticism of two-dimensionalism for some time to come."--Ben Caplan, University of Manitoba

"This is an excellent study with wide-ranging implications that will undoubtedly receive a lot of well-deserved attention. What Scott Soames makes vividly clear is that the lessons of the critique of descriptivism instituted by Kripke, Putnam, et alia, are easily obscured and have yet to be fully assimilated. The book is admirably well written, making it accessible not only to the specialist but also to the student."--Mark Eli Kalderon, University College, London
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Table of contents

A Word about Notation ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 PART ONE: THE REVOLT AGAINST DESCRIPTIVISM 5 CHAPTER 1: The Traditional Descriptivist Picture 7 CHAPTER 2: Attack on the Traditional Picture Proper Names, Non-Descriptionality, and Rigid Designation 14 PART TWO: DESCRIPTIVIST RESISTANCE: THE ORIGINS OF AMBITIOUS TWO-DIMENSIONALISM 33 CHAPTER 3: Reasons for Resistance and the Strategy for Descriptivist Revival 35 CHAPTER 4: Roots of Two-Dimensionalism in Kaplan and Kripke 43 CHAPTER 5: Stalnaker's Two-Dimensionalist Model of Discourse 84 CHAPTER 6: The Early Two-Dimensionalist Semantics of Davies and Humberstone 106 PART THREE: AMBITIOUS TWO-DIMENSIONALISM 131 CHAPTER 7: Strong and Weak Two-Dimensionalism 133 CHAPTER 8: Jackson's Strong Two-Dimensionalist Program 149 CHAPTER 9: Chalmers's Two-Dimensionalist Defense of Zombies 194 CHAPTER 10: Critique of Ambitious Two-Dimensionalism 267 PART FOUR: THE WAY FORWARD 327 CHAPTER 11: Positive Nondescriptivism 329 Index 355
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Review quote

"A text of this scope and care is a must for any program supporting philosophy of language and mind."--Choice
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About Scott Soames

Scott Soames, formerly Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, is now Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He is the author of "Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volumes 1 and 2" (Princeton), "Beyond Rigidity", and "Understanding Truth".
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10 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 20% (2)
4 60% (6)
3 10% (1)
2 10% (1)
1 0% (0)
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