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Evans: “The Causal Theory of Names” BACKGROUND Speaker’s Denotation vs. Name Denotation Evans distinguishes between these, and suggests that both Kripke and the description theorists he criticizes have failed to draw this distinction. Speaker’s Denotation “What a name denotes upon a particular occasion of its use” (p. 296). Name Denotation “What conditions have to be satisfied by an expression [x] and an item [y] for [x] to be a name of [y]” (p. 296). Two Kinds of Description Theories There will
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  1 Evans: “The Causal Theory of Names” BACKGROUNDSpeaker’s Denotation vs. Name Denotation Evans distinguishes between these, and suggests that both Kripke and thedescription theorists he criticizes have failed to draw this distinction. Speaker’s Denotation “What a name denotes upon a particular occasion of its use” (p. 296). Name Denotation “What conditions have to be satisfied by an expression [  x ] and an item [  y ] for[  x ] to be a name of [  y ]” (p. 296). Two Kinds of Description Theories There will thus be a description theory of  speaker’s denotation, and one of  name  denotation: Description theory of speaker’s denotation A name (on a particular occasion of its use by a speaker S ) denotes whateverunique item satisfies most or all of the descriptions S would associate with thatname. Description theory of name denotation A name (as used by a group of speakers) is associated with a description or setof descriptions (obtained from the beliefs of those speakers). The bearer of thename is the object that satisfies these descriptions. Kripke’s Attack on the Description Theory According to Evans, Kripke attacks the theory of speaker’s denotation, not thetheory of name denotation. Evans himself thinks that Kripke’s criticism is effectiveagainst the first theory, but does not touch the second.  2 EVANS VS. THE DESCRIPTION THEORY The weaker version of the descriptive theory of speaker’s denotation: “somedescriptive identification is necessary for a speaker to denote something” (p. 297,right).Evans thinks that even the weaker version is false. He sees it as a fusion of twothoughts, what we might call the intention requirement and its underlying philosophyof mind requirement: 1. Intention   requirement “In order to be saying something by uttering an expression one must utter thesentence with certain intentions — i.e., one must be aiming at something with one’suse of the name.” (p. 297) 2. Philosophy of mind   requirement “To have an intention or belief concerning some item one must be in possession of adescription uniquely true of it.” (p. 297)Evans does not seem to have any objection to (1), the intention requirement. Hisobjections are directed against (2), the Philosophy of Mind, which he says (p. 298) “isheld by anyone who holds that S believes that a is F  if and only if: ∃φ [( S believes ∃  x ( φ  x & ( ∀  y )( φ  y   →    x = y ) & Fx )) & φ a & ( ∀  y )( φ  y   →    y = a )]”What does this formula say? Roughly: “there is a property that S believes to beuniquely instantiated by some F  , and that is, in fact, uniquely instantiated by a .” Inother words, S has a certain description in mind that he takes to single out a certain F   thing, and a alone fits that description. The condition is not sufficient That’s because it leaves out any connection between the believer ( S ) and the object of belief ( a ) other than the  fit  between a and a description ( φ ) the believer has in mind.There is nothing else to actually connect that very object , a , to S .The general form of a counter example to this condition looks like this: Think of someproperty, φ , that S believes to be uniquely instantiated by some F  , and let a be an objectthat (unknown to S ) uniquely instantiates φ .  3E.g., suppose that Tom believes that the property of being the oldest living Europeanat midnight on July 1, 1999 is uniquely instantiated. [Who wouldn’t hold such abelief? There has to be some European who is older than all the others at that time.]Further, suppose that Tom believes that the person who uniquely instantiates thisproperty is Norwegian (perhaps he thinks that Norwegians are, on the whole, verylong-lived). Finally, suppose that the oldest European at that time is an Italian namedGiuseppe. Then the proposed account of belief holds, absurdly, that Tom believesthat Giuseppe is Norwegian . But, clearly, Tom holds no beliefs about Giuseppe.What’s wrong with the proposed account is its omission of any causal relation  between the believer and the object of belief. In order for it to be true that S believesthat a is F  (where ‘ a ’ is a name), there has to be some causal relation involving a (orthe name ‘ a ’) and S (or S ’s use of the name ‘ a ’).Our counter example shows that the proposed condition for ‘ S believes that a is F  ’ isnot a sufficient condition. But that may be irrelevant, for the formula Evans gives on p.298 seems to have over-stated the Philosophy of Mind requirement as he stated it on p.297. There, it demands only a necessary condition. The condition is not necessary We need a different kind of counter example—a case in which S believes that a is F  ,but S cannot provide a property that is uniquely instantiated by a and that S believes tobe uniquely instantiated by some F  .A counter example is suggested by Evans’ case on p 298 (top right): “What makes itone rather than the other of a pair of identical twins that you are in love with?” So let S be the man in this example, and a and b are the twins. S believes that a is the loveof his life, but there is no φ that is uniquely instantiated by a and that is believed by S  to be uniquely instantiated by the love of his life. (Presumably, any features bymeans of which S would try to pick out a would also be shared by b .)So what makes it possible for S to believe that a is F  in the absence of a uniquelyidentifying description? Once again, a causal relation   may take up the slack. Wemay suppose that S has never met—and may not even know about— b . But he hasmet a , perceived a , etc. That’s what makes it a , rather than b , that he’s in love with. EVANS VS. THE CAUSAL THEORY Evans thus agrees with Kripke that there must be a causal component to a correctaccount of naming. But he thinks that “the causal theory unamended is not adequate”(301).  4 Dubbing and change of reference A problem with making the dubbing event an essential part of the causal chain: itdoes not take into account the fact that a name can change its reference, and becomethe name of something other than the object srcinally dubbed. ã   An actual example of this: ‘Madagascar’. Originally, it named a portionof the African mainland. But, misunderstood by Marco Polo, it becameattached instead to the great island off the coast of Africa (p. 301). ã   Imaginary case: the switched babies (p. 301).Evans wants to “sketch a theory which will enable ‘Madagascar’ to be the name of the island yet which will not have the consequence that ‘Gödel’ would become aname of Schmidt in the situation envisaged by Kripke ….” (p. 301) What are the relata in the causal relation? Let us begin with the case of Louis (p. 298-9). In a pub, S hears a conversation abouta certain Louis, and joins in the conversation. His use of the name ‘Louis’ thusacquires (according to the causal theory) whatever denotation it had when it wasused by the other participants in the conversation. And their denotation, in turn, istraced back through a causal chain to an initial “dubbing” of the bearer of the namehimself, say, King Louis XIII of France. So on Kripke’s picture, S ’s use of ‘Louis’denotes King Louis XIII.But Evans thinks this is the wrong result. For suppose that S has completelyforgotten the conversation. Indeed, S may become thoroughly confused, and saysomething like, “I think Louis was a basketball player.” Still, for Kripke, S is talkingabout Louis XIII if the causal history of his acquisition of the name traces back tothe dubbing of Louis XIII.Evans’s objection is that this gives initial dubbings “magical powers”: … for [Kripke] an expression becomes a name just so long as someone hasdubbed something with it and thereby caused it to be in common usage. Thisseems little short of magical. Instead, Evans proposes that the relevant causal connection is not between the dubbing of Louis and S ’s subsequent use of the name, but between Louis himself   and the body of information that S associates with (a particular use of) the name‘Louis’. According to Evans (p. 301, right), Kripke
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