Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, (Kripke 1980, 48)
It is to say that the referent of rigid designator, speaking of a possible world or a counterfactual situation, is as same as its referent in the actual world. For example the term “President of the United States” is not a rigid term designating Omaba, because there is possible world in which the president of the United States is not Obama and hence the term doesn’t designate him (doesn’t refer to Omaba) in that world. But “Obama” designate Obama in every possible world, thus is a rigid designator. Notice, saying that in the world W the referent of “Obama” is Omaba, doesn’t ...view middle of the document...
Kripke drastically attacks the former theories in Naming and Necessity.
The Direct-Reference theories are ones in which the Semantic value of a proper name is simply its referent and proper names refer to their referent without the interference of any other notion. This view is usually attributed to John Stuart Mill. One the many problems arising when we accept such a view is as follow: according to this view, since “Hesperus” and “Phosphorus” refer to the same object (Venus), they should have the same semantic value. Hence these two sentences should have the same semantic value:
(1) Hesperus is Phosphorus.
(2) Hesperus is Hesperus.
But, intuitively they differ in semantic value (they are expressing two different propositions) because (1) is a posteriori and informative and (2) is not. This problem and problems like this, made some philosophers, like Frege and Russel to discard such a view and adopt a Descriptive theory, a theory in which the semantic value of a proper name is a definite description (or a conjunction of descriptions), and names refer to their referents through satisfying those descriptions. Following Salmon we call different types of Kripke’s argument against such a view as follow: Modal argument, Epistemological argument and Semantical argument. What are these arguments? Consider (3):
(3) Hesperus = celestial body visible in the evening
Modal argument says something like this: Since it is possible for Hesperus not to be seen in the evening, (3) is false.
Epistemological argument says something like this: Since (3) is not knowable a priori, (3) is false (because if “Hesperus” means “celestial body visible in the evening” then (3) can be known a priori).
Semantical argument says something like this: Since someone saying “it is possible for Hesperus not being visible in the evening” doesn’t contradict herself, “Hesperus” doesn’t mean ”celestial body visible in the evening”, hence (3) is false .
So Kripke holds that the meaning of a proper name is not one or a cluster of definite descriptions, nevertheless he doesn’t completely favor the Millian theories, he doesn’t accept that the semantic value of a proper name in simply its referent. So what is the semantic value of a proper name? Kripke doesn’t explicitly answer.
Considering the second question-how does a proper name refer?-, in Naming and Necessity, Kripke says that a proper name gain its referent through a baptism ceremony in which the introducer of the name, pointing to the referent, attach that name to the object or in some cases uses a reference-fixing description (a description which its only function is to specify the referent) to do so. Also any receiver of that name should intend to use it for the same object (Kripke also says that it is not a complete or an unobjectionable theory).
Kripke also defends an essentialist view; some properties of an object are essential properties, properties which an object can’t exist and at the same time lack those properties...