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Kripke's Naming and Necessity


Admission requirements

This course is only accessible to:

  • Bachelor's students in Philosophy who have passed the first year and have furthermore obtained at least 10 EC of the compulsory components of the second year, including: Wetenschapsfilosofie or Philosophy of Science, and Taalfilosofie or Language and Thought.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


Saul Kripke's text, Naming and Necessity (1981), has had a decisive influence on contemporary philosophy of language, metaphysics and the philosophy of the mind. Kripke's argument 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 are now the springboard for much current work, due to the persuasive arguments and powerful insights that Kripke provides.

We will not only carefully read Kripke's famous text, Naming and Necessity, we will also discuss ideas of Bertrand Russell, John Searle, Keith Donnellan, W.V. O. Quine 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 very 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, Searle and Donnellan;

  • some of the contemporary responses to Kripke’s work.

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 timetable is available on the following websites:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours.

  • Attendance seminars: 13 x 3 hours = 39 hours

  • Preparing seminars: 12 x 8 hours = 96 hours

  • Writing papers (including studying literature): 145 hours

Assessment method


  • weekly summaries (condition for admission to course completion);

  • two short argumentative papers.

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


The final grade for the course is the result of the weighted average of grade for the two short papers (2 x 50% of the final result).


Resits for the individual partial exams are not offered. The resit consists of partially rewriting one of the short papers. The result of the resit replaces all previously obtained partial marks (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 both completed short papers with a pass mark cannot participate in the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • class announcements;

  • submitting summaries

  • submitting papers and receiving feedback.

Reading list

Required literature

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

  • Further material made available in class.

Optional literature

  • Kripke, S. A. (2011). Philosophical Troubles: Collected Papers Vol I. New York: Oxford University Press.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. M.A. Lipman


Not applicable.