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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2012

2 - Argument and intuition in Kripke's Naming and Necessity


In January 1970, just about twenty years after Quine's revolutionary APA paper, Saul Kripke gave a series of lectures at Princeton that launched a counter-revolution. “The impact of the lectures,” Scott Soames tells us, “was profound and immediate, and over the years their influence has grown.” In drastic contrast to Quine's paper, Kripke's lectures provided, among other things, “a compelling defense of the metaphysical concepts of necessity and possibility … forceful arguments that there are necessary truths that are knowable only aposteriori, and apriori truths that are contingent … and a persuasive defense of the intelligibility of essentialism – i.e., the claim that it makes sense to characterize objects as having some of their properties essentially.” Soames' view of Kripke's effectiveness is widely shared. As Christopher Hughes puts it, “Certain Kripkean views [the metaphysical views mentioned by Soames as well as many of Kripke's key claims in the philosophy of language] … are, if not uncontroversial, as close to uncontroversial as any interesting views in analytic philosophy.” This consensus is all the more remarkable because, especially regarding necessity, Kripke rehabilitated positions that seemed to have been definitively buried by analytic philosophers from Frege, through the logical positivists, to Quine. Given analytic philosophers' commitment to rigorous argument as the hallmark of their discipline, we might expect that Kripke's lectures will be models of compelling argument.

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