Attitudes Towards Reference and Replaceability

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (2):155-168 (2014)
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Robert Kraut has proposed an analogy between valuing a loved one as irreplaceable and the sort of “rigid” attachment that (according to Saul Kripke’s account) occurs with the reference of proper names. We wanted to see if individuals with Kripkean intuitions were indeed more likely to value loved ones (and other persons and things) as irreplaceable. In this empirical study, 162 participants completed an online questionnaire asking them to consider how appropriate it would be to feel the same way about a perfect replica of a loved one, as well as other questions about replaceability. Participants who previously had endorsed Kripkean reference (n = 96) rated loved ones as less replaceable on two different measures than participants who had previously endorsed Descriptivist reference (n = 66, t(160)> 2.27, p <.02, eta2> .03). Additional results suggest that this difference extends to other targets as well and is at least partially dependent on sentimental attachment.

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Christopher Grau
Clemson University


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