Who Shaves the Barber?

Kripke’s Naming and Necessity | WSB #6

September 19, 2017

A name, one might think, simply stands in for the thing it names. But, if it's really as simple as that, why is a statement like "Chris Wallace is Biggie Smalls" informative? Why isn't it a tautology, of the form A is A? Starting from this simple problem, Saul Kripke's 1980 book Naming and Necessity covers the history of theories of naming before proposing a radically new theory. The book revolutionized philosophy like few books have. Aside from challenging how we think about names and identity, it also clarified the notions of "a priori" and "necessary." Famously, Kripke showed why "Water is H2O" is actually a necessary fact, though not a priori. In this episode, I summarize Kripke's arguments and propose some criticisms to his theory.

Next week: Graham Priest: Unity and Regress

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Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.


"The Causal Theory of Names" by Gareth Evans
Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke