WSB#6 – Kripke’s Naming and Necessity

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Naming and Necessity
Saul Kripke

A name, one might think, simply stands in for the thing it names. But, if it’s really as simple as that, why is a statement like “Chris Wallace is Biggie Smalls” informative? Why isn’t it a tautology, of the form A is A? Starting from this simple problem, Saul Kripke’s 1980 book Naming and Necessity covers the history of theories of naming before proposing a radically new theory. The book revolutionized philosophy like few books have. Aside from challenging how we think about names and identity, it also clarified the notions of “a priori” and “necessary.” Famously, Kripke showed why “Water is H2O” is actually a necessary fact, though not a priori. In this episode, I summarize Kripke’s arguments and propose some criticisms to his theory.

Audio

Video

Next week: Interview with Graham Priest on Bradley’s Regress
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Saul Kripke
4:20 – J.S. Mill’s theory of naming
5:45 – Chris Wallace is Biggie Smalls and Biggie Smalls is Biggie Smalls
7:45 – Russell’s theory of descriptions
14:46 – Kripke’s theory – rigid designators
17:25 – Kripke’s theory – initial baptism and the causal chain
23:10 – a priori v. necessary (water is H2O)
28:10 – Meter stick in Paris
31:46 – Unicorns
33:04 – Mental states and brain states
35:04 – Associations (Gareth Evans’ objection)
37:56 – Presupposed identity and vagueness (my objection)
47:08 – Objection to mental states argument

Sources

The Causal Theory of Names” by Gareth Evans
Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke…

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WSB#5 – Jim Slagle’s Epistemological Skyhook, Pt. 2 – Skepticism, Theism, Mind

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In part 2 of this interview with epistemologist Jim Slagle, we continue to discuss his Epistemological Skyhook: the argument that naturalism and determinism are epistemically self-defeating. Whereas for the first part we focused on the work of Alvin Plantinga, this time we take a broader view and discuss the roles of theism, mind, and the Agrippan trilemma in the argument; Thomas Nagel’s version of the argument; the possibility of biting the skeptical bullet; an existentialist approach to skepticism; broadly “continental” versions of the argument; where the name “Skyhook” came from; and Slagle’s own history with theism, Christianity, and religious experience.

Audio

Video

Next week: The Ontology of the State
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:37 – Nagel and teleology without theology
3:18 – Karl Popper’s skyhook against determinism
3:47 – Varieties of theism
5:15 – Continental skyhooks: Hegel, Husserlian psychologism, power
9:02 – Habermas: transcendental arguments
13:05 – Self-defeat v. self-refutation
17:22 – Eliminative materialism
19:40 – Existentialism and biting the skeptical bullet
26:41 – Relativism & subjectivism
28:04 – Why Skyhook? (Daniel Dennett)
33:17 – Science or phenomenon?
36:45 – Avoiding the mental? (Nagel)
38:31 – Is naturalism the orthodoxy in the academy?
40:24 – Why has this argument been ignored? (C.S. Lewis)
43:57 – “Descartes in reverse”
47:15 – Agrippan trilemma
56:19 – Can we doubt sensory experience?
1:01:39 – Pragmatism
1:04:18 – Religious experience

Sources

The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat by Jim Slagle…

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WSB#4 – Jim Slagle’s Epistemological Skyhook, Pt. 1: Plantinga

naturalized epistemology
Alvin Plantinga

Episode 4: Jim Slagle’s Epistemological Skyhook, Part 1: Plantinga

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

In this interview with epistemologist Jim Slagle, we discuss the Epistemological Skyhook. That is, the argument that certain philosophical positions (such as naturalism and determinism) give us a reason to believe in skepticism, which in turn, gives us a reason to doubt the reasoning that got us to the position in the first place. If the argument is correct, then while it is possible that naturalism or determinism might be true, it is impossible for us to believe in them. In this first part of our two-part discussion, we focus on Alvin Plantinga’s version of the argument.

Audio

Video

Next week: The Epistemological Skyhook w/ Prof. Jim Slagle, Part 2: Nagel, skepticism, and religious experience
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

00:20 – Determinism v. Naturalism Skyhook arguments
10:46 – Externalist epistemology
14:30 – Externalism as a way out for the determinist
18:57 – Self-reference
20:38 – Humean loop
25:25 – Introducing Plantinga
29:17 – Naturalized epistemology
34:15 – Problem of evil
37:07 – Plantinga’s Skyhook
40:55 – Does evolution select for truth?
49:34 – Language, truth, and reality
1:02:03 – Plantinga and the Humean loop
1:05:22 – Fallible foundationalism
1:11:20 – Theism and properly basic beliefs
1:15:41 – Freudian and Marxist Skyhooks
1:20:13 – Compatibilist objection

Sources

The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat by Jim Slagle…

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