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Kripke, Saul Aaron (1940–)

DOI: 10.4324/0123456789-DD085-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

Article Summary

Saul Kripke is one of the most influential philosophers to have written on logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind in the twentieth century.

In logic, he made an early and seminal contribution to the formal treatment of modality, that is, thoughts and statements about how things might have been or must have been (§2). In metaphysics, his work on modality has also been important, contributing as it did to the revival of the Aristotelian idea that the ways a thing might have been or must be (its contingent and its essential properties) were features of that very thing itself. This was in opposition to the view, prevalent in various forms throughout the first half of the twentieth century, that necessity was always relative to some classification or description of the object (§3). In the philosophy of language, he attacked– – in Naming and Necessity – the Russellian idea that proper names are simply abbreviated descriptions of the things that they name, arguing that instead they can refer directly to things via causal connections of which the users of language might be unaware (§4). Again, in the philosophy of language, his work on Wittgenstein on rule-following evinced what seemed to be a radical and devastating skepticism about the very possibility of the meaningful use of language (§6). And his proposed solution constituted a novel re-interpretation of Wittgenstein’s “private language argument,” one that seemed to reveal the essentially social character of language (§8). In the philosophy of mind, he used the semantic machinery developed in Naming and Necessity to revive the long-discredited Cartesian argument against identifying mental and physical states (§5).

Saul Kripke has also written ground-breaking works on the theory of truth (1975), the theory of knowledge (2011), and the semantics of fictional discourse (2013).

Citing this article:
Ahmed, Arif. Kripke, Saul Aaron (1940–), 2017, doi:10.4324/0123456789-DD085-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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