Schwartz On Kripke

Here I must pause a moment to pay homage to Saul Kripke. I do not think that I am exaggerating too much if say that Kripke's Naming and Necessity is the apotheosis of analytic philosophy. Kripke’s analysis involving his prying apart of analyticity, a prioricity, and necessity, including his demonstrating that such statements as “Water is H20,” “Tigers are animals,” and “Gold is the element with atomic num­ber 79,” are necessary, a posteriori, and synthetic is the dialectical synthesis of logical positivism and Quinean pragmatism. It respects Quine’s insistence that such claims are revisable without admitting contingency. It respects the logical positivists’ insistence that such claims are necessary while avoiding confusions about analyticity. Kripke’s analysis is a fruitful application of modal logic, and a deep expression of our ordinary linguistic intuitions on which he relies. It honors Aristotelian essentialism and natural science. It is a meld­ ing of metaphysics and physics. His distinction between descriptions used as definitions and used to fix the reference is a masterpiece of philosophical insight. It clarifies all sorts of issues. I must pause to emphasize also that many others were involved in this apotheosis and had anticipated it in various ways: Putnam and Donnellan, of course; but also Carnap, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Alvin Plantinga, David Lewis and, of course, Quine as the spur. But no one else pulled it together, made it as cogent and compelling, and made as many connections as did Kripke.

Stephen Schwartz, A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: From Russell to Rawls


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