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BILKENT. SIGART. Bilkent ACM SIGART (Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence). Seminar entitled…. Russell vs. Kripke on Names Evidence from Amazonia. by John Bolender METU Philosophy Dept.

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(Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence)

Seminar entitled…

Russell vs. Kripke on NamesEvidence from Amazonia

byJohn BolenderMETU Philosophy Dept.

Abstract: On a naturalist conception, empirical evidence is relevant to judging philosophical accounts of language, knowledge, and mind. Taking naturalism as an assumption, I discuss the merits of a Russellian account of names over a Kripkean account in light of anthropological, linguistic, and psychological evidence from Amazonia. Specifically, the evidence is drawn from Robert Gordon’s (2004) and Daniel Everett’s (2005) work with the Pirahãs, members of a gatherer-hunter culture who are unable to grasp quantified claims and who are also incapable of using names to designate objects which lie beyond immediate experience. I argue that the latter incapacity depends upon the former, thus defending the recognizably Russellian view that mental representations with quantified logical forms play a role in our being able to conceive of a world beyond sensory acquaintance. More specifically, mental representations with quantified logical forms play a crucial role in fixing the referent of any expression designating something lying beyond acquaintance. I argue that Kripke’s causal/historical approach to names cannot explain the facts of Pirahã language and, in fact, would lead one to expect something other than what one actually finds among the Pirahãs. Hence, this evidence favors a broadly Russellian account of language over a Kripke’s account.

Thursday 5th May, 2005 at 17:40 Room: EA409 (Eng. Building)

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( see the SIGART webpage for further details )