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Descriptivism and General Terms, Generally

Michael Johnson

Thursday, October 07, 2010, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy and Center for Cognitive Science

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After Saul Kripke's groundbreaking work in Naming and Necessity (1969), many philosophers have come to hold that names, natural kind terms (like 'water', 'tiger', or 'lightning'), and the corresponding concepts, are "non-descriptive," that is, that their contributions to the truth-conditions of sentences or thoughts containing them is not solely a matter of internal, mental representations (such as prototype structure or position in a mentally represented feature space), but also a matter of the causal or informational connections between those representations and the external environment. In this talk, I seek to generalize these results to all general terms and general concepts, not just the natural kind ones.

Michael Johnson