Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), lectures i and ii.
‘Alice Cooper’ is a proper name; ‘the famous shock-rock musician’ is a definite description which tells you something about the person whose name it is. Frege thought that both names and descriptions were singular terms – expressions whose business is to refer to objects. Russell thought that neither ordinary proper names nor definite descriptions were singular terms. But Russell and Frege were agreed in this: they both thought that names and descriptions work in the same way. Indeed, they both seem to have thought that ordinary proper names were equivalent in meaning to definite descriptions.
In this they were opposed to an older and simpler view held by J. S. Mill, that proper names ‘do not indicate or imply any attributes as belonging to those individuals’ which they refer to. A simple amplification of Mill's view – let's call this the Millian view – holds that there is no more to the meaning of a name than the fact that it refers to the object it does refer to. The most obvious difficulty for the Millian view is provided by the kind of case which led Frege to introduce the notion of Sense in the first place. The kind of difficulty involved here is an aspect of what I've called the Basic Worry for the view that the meaning of words is concerned with things in the world, rather than things in the mind.