The Varieties of Reference (Clarendon Paperbacks) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1982/12/23
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Gareth Evans, one of the most brilliant philosophers of his generation, died in 1980 at the age of thirty-four. He had been working for many years on a book about reference, but did not complete it before his death. The work was edited for publication by John McDowell, who contributes a Preface.
`A brilliant example of contemporary analysis ... I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in problems of reference, logic, epistemology, philosophy of mind, or existence - and that should be every philosopher.'Philosophical Studies`a powerful, coherent work' Times Literary Supplement
Backstory: in 1970, Saul Kripke turned the philosophy world on its ear with "Naming and Necessity", a series of three lectures. In these lectures Kripke, another youthful genius already renowned for his technical work on the model theory of modal logic, mounted an assault on what had been the default position about the meaning of proper names like "Moses". From Russell on, proper names had been viewed as disguised "definite descriptions": a series of attributed properties that marked out the one true bearer of the name. In the *Philosophical Investigations* Wittgenstein uneasily affirmed the view that "Moses" referred to the individual who did most of what Moses was reputed to have done, but after that logicians like Ruth Barcan Marcus started to argue that proper names were more or less "mere tags". Kripke put such views in succinct form, arguing names did the work they did by virtue of the way they had been used in a practice stretching back to contemporaries of the actual individual.
The so-called "Causal Theory of Reference" was born. Working in the midst of this 'sea-change' yet influenced by earlier philosophers like his teacher P.F. Strawson, who argued that "identifying knowledge" was critical to the successful use of a proper name, Evans tried to stake out a synthesis of older and newer views by identifying what is usually called "singular sense" by Evansians as a critical element of our name-using practices. "Sense" or *Sinn* is a concept introduced into the philosophy of language by Gottlob Frege; it is the "cognitive value" of a linguistic expression, what we may fail to appreciate about an object if we are introduced to it under another name (the difference between "Clark Kent" and "Superman", as the time-worn example has it). The "causal" theorists generally argued that proper names had no such "sense", only a referent. Evans will have none of it.
Adumbrating what he calls "Russell's Principle" -- that in order to say something meaningful about an object, we must know which object we are talking about -- Evans quickly dismisses the new orthodoxy and begins to build a theory of meaning articulated along Strawsonian lines, where complicated abilities to distinguish objects from other objects, to re-identify objects, and place them correctly in their environment underlie the mature human's ability to talk about individual objects rationally and in different ways -- including "demonstrative reference", where a hitherto unknown object is designated by "that x" or a cognate expression. (If you are coming to this 'on an empty stomach', you may be dismayed by the highly technical arguments Evans makes in the later chapters of the book; reading Strawson's *Individuals* and *The Bounds of Sense* makes it much easier to appreciate Evans' main points.)
Unfortunately very much material included in the book could not be successfully merged into the main text; McDowell puts extra material in appendices at the end of most chapters, and this creates an impression of flux in Evans' views. Furthermore, this might very well be the *last* philosophy book you ever have to read -- it can't be one of the first. However, whenever analytic philosophers talk about how "rigor" and "logic" make their approach to philosophical issues superior the methods of Evans are exactly what they are talking about: *The Varieties of Reference* is for this reason a landmark of 20th-century thought.
Central to the whole book is the idea of object-directed thoughts. Even though Evans rejects descriptivist theories of names (he provides some excellent considerations here), he also points out that what he calls the "photograph-model" of mental representation is insufficient to secure the relationship between object and singular thought, instead requiring the agent to have "discriminatory knowledge" to have an object-directed thought. Though the first chapters (and the last) of the book are concerned more specifically with philosophy of language, the bulk of the book is given to spelling out the idea of object-directed thoughts, And with these considerations he quite simply set the models and requirements that every subsequent author on the topics would have to follow.
Along the way the book provides a wealth of material for further thought. Some of the chapters, such as the one on non-existence, were clearly meant to be further developed, and the discussions were left in a state of incompleteness at his death. Even so, there really is no excuse for missing this book for anyone at all interested in the topics.
Varieties is dense and difficult material (in the early eighties, Hilary Putnam wrote a surprisingly negative review where he blasts Evans for writing a book that is overly technical; John McDowell wrote several letters responding to Putnam's criticism). But Varieties is packed with awesome thought and is deeply satisfying to read. Also enjoyable are Evans's odd examples, like the coughing sheep, the spinning steel balls, and the hands feeling velvet.
To grasp the motivation for Evans's theory, it is helpful to have some feeling for Dummett's theory of sense, and the attacks on sense made by proponents of the new theory of reference like Kripke. Evans criticizes these positions early in the book, but he also wants to salvage elements of both. Strawson's Individuals and Geach's Mental Acts are also a big influence on Varieties. For example, reading the first couple chapters of Individuals are very helpful for getting a general sense of what is going on when Evans talks about the "fundamental ground of difference" for spatio-temporal objects.
Some of the most important technical concepts in Varieties are the following:
1. Russell's Principle: "The principle is that a subject cannot make a judgment about something unless he knows which object his judgment is about.... In order to make Russell's Principle a substantial principle, I shall suppose that the knowledge which it requires is what might be called discriminating knowledge: the subject must have a capacity to distinguish the object of his judgment from all other things.... We have the idea of certain sufficient conditions for being able to discriminate an object from all other things: for example, when one can perceive it at the present time; when one can recognize it if presented with it; and when one knows distinguishing facts about it" (89).
2. The Generality Constraint: "It seems to me that there must be a sense in which thoughts are structured.... I should prefer to explain the sense in which thoughts are structured, not in terms of their being composed of several distinct elements, but in terms of their being a complex of the exercise of several distinct conceptual abilities.... Thus if a subject can be credited with the thought that a is F, then he must have the conceptual resources for entertaining the thought that a is G, for every property of being G of which he has a conception" (100-104).
3. Idea (capitalized): "I shall speak of the Ideas a subject has, of this or that particular object, on the model of the way we speak of the concepts a subject has, of this or that property". Combined with the Generality Constraint, this yields the notion that "An Idea of an object, then, is something which makes it possible for a subject to think of an object in a series of indefinitely many thoughts, in each of which he will be thinking of the object in the same way" (104).
4. Fundamental Ground of Difference: "An Idea of an object is part of a conception of a world of such objects, distinguished from one another in certain fundamental ways. For every kind of object, there is a general answer to the question, `What makes it the case that there are two objects of this kind rather than one (or three rather than two)?' For example, we may say that shades of color are distinguished from one another by their phenomenal properties, that shapes are distinguished from one another by their geometrical properties, that sets are differentiated from one another by their possessing different members, that numbers are differentiated from one another by their position in an infinite ordering, and that chess positions are distinguished from one another by the positions of pieces upon the board" (106-107).
5. The Fundamental Ground of Difference for Spatio-Temporal Objects: "In the case of temporal objects-objects which exist in time and which change-we must replace the absolute notion of what differentiates an object from others with the notion of what differentiates an object from others at a time.... The answer to the question what differentiates a statue from every other thing at a time is given by citing (i) the position which it occupies at that time and (ii) the fact that it is a statue" (107). The fundamental ground of difference is that which knowledge of suffices to distinguish an object from all other objects (of its kind), that is, knowledge of which satisfies Russell's Principle.
6. Fundamental Idea: "Let us say that one has a fundamental Idea of an object if one thinks of it as the possessor of the fundamental ground of difference which it in fact possesses" (107).
7. Information-based Thought: "An [information-based thought] is governed by a conception of its object which is the result neither of fancy...nor of linguistic stipulation...but rather is the result of a belief about how the world is which the subject has because he has received information (or misinformation) from the object" (121). Information is meant to capture our causal involvement with the world around us.