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Kripke's Naming and Necessity


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including History of Modern Philosophy, Logica, Epistemologie or Wetenschapsfilosofie, Analytische filosofie.

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Logic, Epistemology or Philosophy of Science, Language of Thought.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package C.


Saul Kripke's text, Naming and Necessity (1981) is of decisive influence on contemporary philosophy of language, metaphysics and the philosophy of the mind. For many, Kripke's argumentation in Naming and Necessity is philosophy at it’s best.

What is the relationship between language and the world? What is the relationship between necessity and a priori knowledge? Do objects have essences? What does the name "Sherlock Holmes" refer to? The views that Kripke defends on these and other questions often serves as the springboard for much current work, due to the persuasive arguments and commanding insights that Kripke provides.

We will not only carefully read Kripke's famous text, Naming and Necessity, we will also likely have the opportunity to discuss important ideas of Bertrand Russell, W.V. O. Quine, Gareth Evans and David Lewis, among others. In addition, we will read a number of later essays by Kripke, in which the views of Naming and Necessity are developed further and defended. This way, we get a complete grip on Kripke's influential ideas.

Course objectives

This course aims for a thorough grasp of Kripke early work, including the philosophical background it emerged from and the philosophical debates it sparked.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Kripke’s views on a range of topics, including the relationship between modality and meaning, the possibility of necessary a posteriori truths, the epistemic role of thought experiments, the ontology of non-existent objects and the boundary between semantics and pragmatics;

  • a number of important concepts, including rigid designators, possible worlds and externalism;

  • important ideas and concepts from the work of Russell, Quine, Lewis, Evans and Donnellan.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read, analyze and discuss complex contemporary philosophical texts in-depth;

  • confidently use the technical vocabulary of contemporary analytical philosophy;

  • know how to place philosophical texts in their philosophical context;

  • write short argumentative essays.


The timetables are avalable through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars.

Attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • 10 weekly summaries (strict condition for passing the course).

  • Two short argumentative papers.

Attendance and adequate preparation for the seminars is a condition for course completion.


  • Midterm short paper: 50%

  • Final short paper: 50%


Resits for the individual partial exams are not offered. The resit consists of writing a new paper (on a topic not covered by the midterm or final paper). The result of the resit replaces all previously obtained partial graders (100% of the final result).

Sufficient attendance at the seminars and adequate preparation for preparation for the seminars is a condition for participation in the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examinations cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback on the short essays will be provided via Turnitin within Brightspace.

Reading list

  • Kripke, S. A. (1981), Naming and Necessity. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-631-12801-4.

  • Further material made available in class.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.