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John P. Burgess

ISBN: 978-0-745-65284-9 December 2012 Polity 224 Pages


Saul Kripke has been a major influence on analytic philosophy and allied fields for a half-century and more. His early masterpiece, Naming and Necessity, reversed the pattern of two centuries of philosophizing about the necessary and the contingent. Although much of his work remains unpublished, several major essays have now appeared in print, most recently in his long-awaited collection Philosophical Troubles.

In this book Kripke’s long-time colleague, the logician and philosopher John P. Burgess, offers a thorough and self-contained guide to all of Kripke’s published books and his most important philosophical papers, old and new. It also provides an authoritative but non-technical account of Kripke’s influential contributions to the study of modal logic and logical paradoxes. Although Kripke has been anything but a system-builder, Burgess expertly uncovers the connections between different parts of his oeuvre. Kripke is shown grappling, often in opposition to existing traditions, with mysteries surrounding the nature of necessity, rule-following, and the conscious mind, as well as with intricate and intriguing puzzles about identity, belief and self-reference. Clearly contextualizing the full range of Kripke’s work, Burgess outlines, summarizes and surveys the issues raised by each of the philosopher’s major publications. 

Kripke will be essential reading for anyone interested in the work of one of analytic philosophy’s greatest living thinkers.

Preface page vii

Acknowledgments x

Introduction 1

Background 2

Plan 7

1 Naming 11

Mill vs Frege 11

Error and Ignorance 19

Metalinguistic Theories 24

The Historical Chain Picture 28

Reference vs Attribution 33

2 Identity 37

Modal Logic and its Archenemy 37

Rigidity 45

The Necessity of Identity 50

Resistance 53

The Contingent a Priori 56

3 Necessity 59

Imagination and the Necessary a Posteriori 59

Natural Substances 64

Natural Kinds 69

Natural Phenomena and Natural Law 71

The Mystery of Modality 74

4 Belief 78

Direct Reference 78

Puzzling Pierre 83

Poles Apart 88

Counterfactual Attitudes 91

Empty Names 98

5 Rules 104

Conventionalism 105

Kripkenstein 108

The Analogy with Hume 110

The Skeptical Paradox 116

The Skeptical Solution 120

6 Mind 128

Physicalism 128

Functionalism 131

Against Functionalism 134

Against Physicalism 136

The Mystery of Mentality 140

Appendix A Models 143

The Logic of Modality 143

Kripke Models 147

The Curse of the Barcan Formulas 150

Controversy and Confusion 153

Appendix B Truth 157

Paradox and Pathology 158

Kripke vs Tarski 159

Fixed Points 165

The Intuitive Notion of Truth 170

Notes 175

Bibliography 204

Index 211

"With characteristic verve and clarity, Burgess succeeds in doing what many thought impossible: presenting the best of Kripke's philosophical and technical work in a precise, readable, and highly illuminating fashion. Every philosopher should read this."
Stephen Neale, City University of New York

"Destined to become a classic, this is the best systematic overview of Saul Kripke’s major contributions to philosophy. While each chapter and appendix provides an excellent introduction for those new to the material, old hands will relish Burgess’s provocative takes on Kripkean views of belief, rule-following, and the mind. The explanation of the connection between Kripke’s technical and philosophical work on truth and modality is masterful."
Scott Soames, University of Southern California

"Burgess provides a masterful introduction to Kripke’s philosophy, but this volume is more than that; it is a first-rate piece of philosophy in its own right, as one would expect from one of the leading philosophers of mathematics in the world."
Mark Steiner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Saul Kripke is a major figure in twentieth century philosophy, and one of the leading analytic philosophers alive today
  • John P. Burgess is a former colleague of Kripke and a leading philosopher in his own right; he is uniquely placed to guide readers through Kripke's work
  • Fully up to date, the book deals with the whole range of Kripke's writing, up to and including his most recently published papers
  • Lucidly and accessibly written, this book makes Kripke's difficult idaes fully intelligible for undergraduate students