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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For an expression to be rigid means (abstracting from some variations) that it refers to one and the same thing with respect to any possible situation. But how is this in turn to be understood? An example will help us work through the definition. Take a word like ‘Aristotle.’ That word is a proper name; and proper names are a clear case of a type of word that refers. ‘Aristotle’ refers to a particular person, the last great philosopher of antiquity; in general, a name refers to the thing of which it is the name. To continue working through the definition of rigidity, we need to make sense of referring with respect to. It is tempting, for example, but mistaken, to understand a word's referring with respect to a possible situation as it's being used, in that situation, to refer to something.

Keywords: words, proper names, rigidity, Aristotle, abstracting, possible situation

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