Saul Kripke

Saul Kripke

Born: 1940.


Saul Kripke is an American philosopher now emeritus from (Princeton) and professor of philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center.

He is best known for his attack on the descriptivist (Fregean, Russellian) theory of reference with respect to proper names, according to which a name refers to an object by virtue of the name's being associated with a description that the object in turn satisfies. He gave several examples purporting to render descriptivism implausible (e.g., surely Aristotle, could have died at age two and so not satisfied any of the descriptions we associate with his name).

Saul Kripke proposed instead a causal theory of reference, according to which a name refers to an object by virtue of a causal connection with the object as mediated through communities of speakers. Kripke also raised the prospect of a posteriori necessities - facts that are necessarily true, though they can be known only through empirical investigation. Examples include “Hesperus is Phosphorus”, “Cicero is Tully”, and other identity claims where two names refer to the same object. (These two contributions - causal reference and a posteriori necessity - have been echoed by Hilary Putnam, and there is controversy as to whether Kripke was in turn echoing earlier work by Ruth Barcan Marcus.) Finally, Kripke gave an argument against identity materialism in the philosophy of mind, the view that every mental fact is identical with some physical fact. Kripke argued that the only way to defend this identity is as an a posteriori necessary identity, but that such an identity - e.g., pain is C - fibers firing - could not be necessary, given the possibility of real honest - to - goodness pain that has nothing to do with C - fibers firing. Similar arguments are defended today by David Chalmers. These three contributions can be found in Kripke's lectures entitled “Naming and Necessity”.

Kripke also made interesting contributions to the study of the later Ludwig Wittgenstein, in lectures published as Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, although his work here has been faulted for being not particularly true to the historical Wittgenstein.

Indeed, many philosophers refer to the subject of Kripke's book as "Kripkenstein," on the grounds that whomever the text is about, it's not about Wittgenstein. Kripke's book has also been faulted for not giving credit to other authors who interpreted Wittgenstein, similarly (see e.g. Robert J. Fogelin's Wittgenstein).

Kripke's influence has been substantial; much of his work, unfortunately, exists only in tape - recorded or transcript form.

Kripke also published substantial novel work in formal logic - particularly in the semantics of modal logic - while in his teens.

He was the winner of the 2001 Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy.

Major Books of Saul Kripke

- A Puzzle about Belief, In A. Margalit, editor, Meaning and Use, 1979
- Identity and Necessity, In M. K. Munitz, editor, Identity and Individuation, 1971
- Is There a Problem about Substitutional Quantification?, In Gareth Evans and John McDowell, editors, Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics, 1976
- Naming and Necessity, 1982
- Semantical Analysis of Intuitionistic Logic I, In M. Dummett and J. N. Crossley, editors, Formal Systems and Recursive Functions, 1965
- Semantical Analysis of Modal Logic II: Non-Normal Modal Propositional Calculi, In J. W. Addison, L. Henkin and A. Tarski, editors, The Theory of Models, 1965
- Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, 1984

Major Articles of Saul Kripke

- 1959, A Completeness Theorem in Modal Logic, Journal of Symbolic Logic
- 1962, ‘Flexible’ Predicates of Formal Number Theory, Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society
- 1962, The Undecidability of Monadic Modal Quantification Theory, Zeitschrift für Mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik
- 1963, Semantical Analysis of Modal Logic I: Normal Modal Propositional Calculi, Zeitschrift für Mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik
- 1967, An Extension of a Theorem of Gaifman-Hales-Solovay, Fundamenta Mathematicae
- 1967, Deduction-preserving ‘Recursive Isomorphisms’ between Theories, with Marian Boykan Pour-El, Fundamenta Mathematicae
- 1975, Outline of a Theory of Truth, Journal of Philosophy
- 1986, A Problem in the Theory of Reference: the Linguistic Division of Labor and the Social Character of Naming, Philosophy and Culture
- 2009, Presupposition and Anaphora: Remarks on the formulation of the projection problem, Linguistic Inquiry
- 2009, The Collapse of the Hilbert Program, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic


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