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Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity [Format Kindle]

Scott Soames

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Revue de presse

In this admirable book, Scott Soames provides well defended answers to some of the most difficult and important questions in the philosophy of language, and he does so with characteristic thoroughness, clarity, and rigor. (Canadian Journal of Philosophy)

Présentation de l'éditeur

In this fascinating work, Scott Soames offers a new conception of the relationship between linguistic meaning and assertions made by utterances. He gives meanings of proper names and natural kind predicates and explains their use in attitude ascriptions. He also demonstrates the irrelevance of rigid designation in understanding why theoretical identities containing such predicates are necessary, if true.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 4407 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 392 pages
  • Editeur : Oxford University Press; Édition : 1 (3 janvier 2002)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000UIQLX2
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  6 commentaires
26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Heartbreaking Romance 13 juin 2002
Par Flounder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Most likely one of the most important texts written in the philosophy of language since Kripke's NN. As with his work on truth, one cannot complain--has no room to complain--that Soames is not precise or thorough here. So my review of the book can only be positive, if it is not an obvious expression of utter admiration. The only criticism one could offer at the outset is that the read is a bit stylistically dry, which is a product of careful logical analysis, precision, and painstaking meditation on the several issues covered in it.
Prior to reading this text, I recommend another whirl in Kripke's NN (and yet another...) as well as the first half of Salmon's Reference and Essence (Frege's Puzzle/[Ridgeview] would also be beneficial).
Soames' subtitle to Beyond Rigidity (a clever title) is: 'The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of NN' so one would expect some beaucoup direct reference theory and a clear analysis of just what kind of 'agenda' kripke left 'unfinished.' Soames is meticulous in satisfying that expectation.
Ch 1 discusses two main points of the unfinished semantic agenda: a positive theory of meaning (semantic content, names), and the significance of natural kind terms. Ch 2 is a discussion of proper names as RD's (as not R. descriptions). Ch 3 discusses the meaning of names as their referents. Ch 4 analyzes ambiguity and proper names (esp. indexicals). Ch 5 evaluates 'partially descriptive names.' Ch 6-8 deals with pro attitudes ascriptions (defending a Millian/neo-Russellian view of names and indexicals in light of Fregean informational content). The last chapters deal with natural kind terms.
At bottom, it seems that Soames is still committed to an anti-descriptivist account of proper names (which is probably the mainline view nowdays--Searle may be one of the few hold outs).
Soames makes K's project more explicit (and maybe more clear), and an interesting thesis he develops is that natural kind terms are not RD's (nor are they incredibly crucial for an understanding of proper names)
This text will be worthy of reading and re-reading again.
21 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Really just neo-Millianism 28 octobre 2004
Par Micah Newman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
On the face of it, it would appear that, since Kripke never got around to it, Scott Soames has taken on the project of further articulating and developing the rigid designation thesis in a rigorous and thorough way (the book's subtitle would seem to suggest that). However, what struck me like a bag of bricks partway through reading this book is that it really has little to do at all with Kripke's program.

The first couple of chapters do explicitly talk about rigid designation, as do the last three chapters, which take on the task of exploring what it would mean for a general term to be a rigid designator. The middle chapters go through pages and pages of (to me, mind-numbingly tedious) "speaker A asserts proposition p by uttering sentence s in context C with name n with semantic content x iff A believes that p..."-type schemata, with hardly a mention of rigid designation anywhere. It was while ploughing through this sort of material that it became clearly apparent that what Soames is on about here is simply Millianism: the thesis that the semantic content of a proper name is just its referent. The purpose of all this thick and dry exposition is to explore ways in which some common puzzles about direct reference could be solved (in such roundabout and technical ways that they are, to me, of very little interest--and I'm not overly intimidated by technical formalisms if they arrive at an important point; I just don't know that a conclusion that can't be summarized in a few plain sentences is worthwhile) while maintaining that the semantic content of a name is just its referent. Soames does this by appeal to background beliefs, etc., which does not seem so earth-shattering. All this is well and good, of course, for a thorough theoretical treatment of the direct-reference program. Soames is obviously a very careful philosopher, and insofar as the framework in which he investigates the questions goes, his conclusions are plausible enough. However, someone interested in a further development and generalization of the rigid designation thesis, as such, could well do entirely without this book. Except, maybe, as an object lesson for "How Not to Think About Rigid Designation."

Unfortunately, even when explicitly treating of rigid designation (and this goes for the early and later chapters too), Soames seems to have no feel for the notion of metaphysical necessity and identity that underlies the notion of rigidity; he is simply a direct-reference theorist through and through (for this reason, after three chapters on the possibility of rigid designation of general terms, he comes to find no real use for or promise in the idea, which is no surprise as one of his starting points is that it should be a "natural extension of rigid designation for what has been given for singular terms"--it's not hard to see why this would not work, but again, Soames misses the point, which is metaphysical necessity of identity, not mere reference). The title _Beyond Rigidity_ is actually the inverse of what it should be, not only does it not go "beyond rigidity"--in fact, it doesn't even get as far as rigidity.

So, beware, as the title turns out to be awfully misleading. And, as others have pointed out, Soames' dry-as-dust logic-chopping is a stark contrast from Kripke's lively, engaging prose. It's pretty funny that it was Kripke, in three lectures and hardly any recourse to formal symbolism, who made the far deeper and more enduring point.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Forefront of the Theory of Meaning 13 janvier 2006
Par Charles H. Pence - Publié sur Amazon.com
Anyone, and I mean that quite literally, who is interested in the theory of meaning---the process by which we can take a sentence and return a logical proposition that represents its information content---must read this book. Here's why.

After Frege's descriptivist program was shot to bits by a handful of arguments, most notably those in Kripke's Naming and Necessity, theorists in the philosophy of language have returned to a theory of meaning powered by direct reference. While one featured reviewer maligns this program as "mere neo-Millianism," this book manages to strengthen direct reference theory significantly, patching it against the arguments that initially powered Frege's proposal, as well as those that have been levelled against it in the intervening century.

While many here have written disapprovingly of Soames' logical writing style, I believe that, at least for technical theorists looking to make advances in the field, this is perhaps the most clearly and straightforwardly written book I've ever picked up. With many authors in the philosophy of language, you read an entire paper (or worse, an entire book), and are left at the end wondering "So, how does your theory determine the information content of a sentence? What does it all mean?" With Soames, one isn't left guessing---simply flip to the clear, concise statement of precisely how information content is determined in a sentence (hint: try (13) on page 209), and you have Soames' answer. You can see precisely his assumptions and arguments, and debate whichever of them you wish. As someone who has done work in the field, I wholeheartedly wish debating others' theories of meaning was so simple.

At any rate, if you have some experience with formal logic and the philosophy of language, the technical parts of this work are, in my opinion, far more useful than dry, and permit readers to engage Soames' work in serious, critical, analytic philosophy without having to first digest mountains of florid prose. This book is, without hesitation, recommended.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Never met a singular proposition I didn't like. 27 juin 2003
Par Neil Delaney - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I would merely say the book is intriguing and beautifully clear, particularly in two respects: (1) Kripke's own seeming ambivalence about propositional attitudes in "Puzzle about Belief" can be interestingly taken in one direction rather than another. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of Bruce Wayne's claim that "I am Batman" (and felt informed, unlike Alfred the butler) will pay serious attention to Soames' distinctions between assertion and linguistic meaning. (2) The treatment of theoretical identities as necessary if true without reference to rigid designation is quite important. Thus, this book represents a major event.
6 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not up to Kripke's level 16 avril 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book is very obviously a follow-on to Saul Kripke's Naming and Neccesity, and should only be read after a careful reading of N&N. In addition, the rather dry academic prose of Soames contrasts with the much more free-flowing work by Kripke, which is a transcription of 3 lectures he delivered (without notes) at Princeton, where he was a professor until he retired (incidentally, Soames is a current professor at that university).
With that out of the way, Beyond Rigidity is nothing short of a repuidiation of Kripke. Soames (and many more modern philosophers) seem to be returning to the same holes Mill dug when he wrote those handful of paragraphs which forever tied his name to a fatally flawed theory of reference. It is impossible, while reading this book, to not notice the way in which the work accomplished by eg., Frege, Russell, and even Kripke, is seemingly ignored in Soame's anti-descriptivist theories. Soames's theories, for example, of extra-semantic content, are certainly not conclusive, nor are they the only possible answers to the questions he poses.
That said, this is certainly a worthwhile book. Although I think that the content is dubious and incorrect philosophically, this is still a valuable work to read, if, at the least, only as a cautionary tale.
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