Stockholms universitet

Högre seminarium i teoretisk filosofi: Alice Damirjian


Datum: torsdag 27 oktober 2022

Tid: 13.15 – 15.00

Plats: D700

Is ”Arsenal" a Rigid Designator? Rigidity and Names for Social Groups


In Naming and Necessity, Kripke (1980, [1972]) argued and convinced many that some terms are rigid designators. In particular, proper names. According to Kripke’s definition, a proper name N for an object a is a rigid designator if and only if N designates a in every possible world in which a exists, and N never designates any other object b such that a ≠ b. Some paradigmatic examples of such names are: ‘Hesperus’, ‘Phosphorus’, ‘Venus’, ‘Nixon’, ‘Aristotle’, ‘Gödel’, ‘Mt. Everest’, ‘London’, ‘England’, and ‘T’. In this paper, the thing I want to draw our attention to is the fact that ‘London’ and ‘England’ stand out from the rest of the names in our list. They stand out because cities and nations are social entities, whereas planets, individuals, mountains, and tables are not. They are, in a sense, entities that constitutively dependent on social factors (like human behavior, practices and beliefs). This observation is in itself a reason to wonder whether ‘England’ and ‘London’ really could be rigid designators, and what that would mean for the kripkean picture of proper names. For if we are fine with accepting that ‘England’ is a rigid designator, then it seems intuitively plausible that names for other social entities could be rigid too. Company names like ‘Apple’, ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’, band names like ‘The Beatles’, ‘Queen’ and ‘Nirvana’, and team names like ‘Arsenal’ could all be rigid designators. This is something one might not be inclined to accept without proper consideration. In order to investigate this issue, we must turn our gaze towards social ontology and look at what has been said about the metaphysics of social entities, and we must ask: Within the kripkean framework, are social entities really the type of objects for which rigid designators can be introduced? My tentative answer will be: It appears so.