Causal theory of reference

causal-historical theory of referenceDescriptive-causal theory of referenceappropriate causal (social-historical) relationcausal and historical chain of eventscausal historycausal theories of referencecausal theoristsCausal theory of namesCausal theory of proper namesCausal theory of reference-fixing
A causal theory of reference is a theory of how terms acquire specific referents based on evidence.wikipedia
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Hilary Putnam

PutnamInternal realismPutnam, Hilary
Kripke and Hilary Putnam also defended an analogous causal account of natural kind terms.
In philosophy of language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, introducing the notion of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin Earth.

Descriptivist theory of names

descriptivismdescription theories of proper namesdescription theory of proper names
Although he refused to explicitly endorse such a theory, he indicated that such an approach was far more promising than the then-popular descriptive theory of names introduced by Russell, according to which names are in fact disguised definite descriptions.
In the 1970s, this theory came under attack from causal theorists such as Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam and others.

Naming and Necessity

In lectures later published as Naming and Necessity, Kripke provided a rough outline of his causal theory of reference for names.
As an alternative, Kripke adumbrated a causal theory of reference, according to which a name refers to an object by virtue of a causal connection with the object as mediated through communities of speakers.

Twin Earth thought experiment

Twin EarthTwin Earths
Under certain circumstances of confusion, this can lead to the alteration of a name's referent (for one example of how this might happen, see Twin Earth thought experiment). A speaker whose environment changes may thus observe that the referents of his terms shift, as described in the Twin Earth and Swampman thought experiments.
The result of this is that the contents of a person's brain are not sufficient to determine the reference of terms they use, as one must also examine the causal history that led to this individual acquiring the term.

Saul Kripke

KripkeKripke, SaulSaul Aaron Kripke
As an alternative, Kripke outlined a causal theory of reference, according to which a name refers to an object by virtue of a causal connection with the object as mediated through communities of speakers.

Keith Donnellan

Donnellan, Keith
Causal theories of names became popular during the 1970s, under the influence of work by Saul Kripke and Keith Donnellan.
Saul Kripke gave a series of three lectures at Princeton University in 1970, later published as Naming and Necessity, in which he argued against descriptivism and sketched the causal-historical theory of reference according to which each proper name necessarily designates a particular object and that the identity of the object so designated is determined by the history of the name's use.

Rigid designator

rigid designatorsrigid designationrigidity
This usage of 'Johnny Depp' for referring to some particular baby got passed on from person-to-person in a giant causal and historical chain of events.

Gareth Evans (philosopher)

Gareth EvansEvansEvans, Gareth
Philosophers such as Gareth Evans have insisted that the theory's account of the dubbing process needs to be broadened to include what are called 'multiple groundings'.
Evans argues that any causal theory of reference, like that of the photograph model, must be restricted in certain ways: it is necessary to consider, one by one, the various kinds of Russellian thoughts people can have about objects, and to specify in each case what conditions must be met for them to meet Russell's principle—only under those conditions can one have a thought about a specific object or objects (a singular thought).

Semantic externalism

semantic externalistssemantic internalism
These considerations motivate semantic externalism.
Externalism is generally thought to be a necessary consequence of any causal theory of reference; since the causal history of a term is not internal, the involvement of that history in determining the term's referent is enough to satisfy the externalist thesis.

Michael Devitt

Devitt
Michael Devitt claims that repeated groundings in an object can account for reference change.
He is a noted proponent of the causal theory of reference.

Structuralism (philosophy of science)

Ontic structural realismScientific structuralismstructural realism
Psillos also defends David Lewis's descriptive-causal theory of reference (according to which the abandoned theoretical terms after a theory change are regarded as successfully referring "after all") and claims that it can adequately deal with referential continuity in conceptual transitions, during which theoretical terms are abandoned, thus rendering ESR redundant.

Reference

referencesreferentialreferent
A causal theory of reference is a theory of how terms acquire specific referents based on evidence.

Proper noun

proper namecommon nounproper nouns
Such theories have been used to describe many referring terms, particularly logical terms, proper names, and natural kind terms.

Natural kind

kindskindnatural
Kripke and Hilary Putnam also defended an analogous causal account of natural kind terms. Such theories have been used to describe many referring terms, particularly logical terms, proper names, and natural kind terms.

Bertrand Russell

RussellRussell, BertrandBertrand Russel
Although he refused to explicitly endorse such a theory, he indicated that such an approach was far more promising than the then-popular descriptive theory of names introduced by Russell, according to which names are in fact disguised definite descriptions.

Logic

logicianlogicallogics
Russell found that certain logical contradictions could be avoided if names were considered disguised definite descriptions (a similar view is often attributed to Gottlob Frege, mostly on the strength of a footnoted comment in "On Sense and Reference", although many Frege scholars consider this attribution misguided).

Contradiction

contradictorycontradictionscontradicts
Russell found that certain logical contradictions could be avoided if names were considered disguised definite descriptions (a similar view is often attributed to Gottlob Frege, mostly on the strength of a footnoted comment in "On Sense and Reference", although many Frege scholars consider this attribution misguided).

Definite description

descriptiondefinite descriptordescribing
Russell found that certain logical contradictions could be avoided if names were considered disguised definite descriptions (a similar view is often attributed to Gottlob Frege, mostly on the strength of a footnoted comment in "On Sense and Reference", although many Frege scholars consider this attribution misguided).

Gottlob Frege

FregeFregeanFrege, Gottlob
Russell found that certain logical contradictions could be avoided if names were considered disguised definite descriptions (a similar view is often attributed to Gottlob Frege, mostly on the strength of a footnoted comment in "On Sense and Reference", although many Frege scholars consider this attribution misguided).

Sense and reference

On Sense and ReferencesenseSinn
Russell found that certain logical contradictions could be avoided if names were considered disguised definite descriptions (a similar view is often attributed to Gottlob Frege, mostly on the strength of a footnoted comment in "On Sense and Reference", although many Frege scholars consider this attribution misguided).

Possible world

possible worldspossible world semanticsactual world
A name refers rigidly to the bearer to which it is causally connected, regardless of any particular facts about the bearer, and in all possible worlds.

Swampman

Swamp man
A speaker whose environment changes may thus observe that the referents of his terms shift, as described in the Twin Earth and Swampman thought experiments.

Thought experiment

thought experimentsGedankenexperimentthought-experiment
A speaker whose environment changes may thus observe that the referents of his terms shift, as described in the Twin Earth and Swampman thought experiments.