Reid, Rosmini, Mill, and Kripke on proper names

In Rosminianesimo filosofico (ed. S. F. Tadini). Milan, Italy: Edizioni Mimesis. pp. 271–281 (2017)
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Abstract

The theory of proper names proposed by J.S. Mill in A system of logic (1843), and discussed in S. Kripke’s Naming and necessity (1980), is shown to be predated by A. Rosmini’s Nuovo saggio sull’origine delle idee (1830) and T. Reid’s Essays on the intellectual powers of man (1785). For philological reasons, Rosmini probably did not obtain his view of proper names from Reid. For philosophical reasons, it is unlikely that he got it from Hobbes, Locke, Smith, or Stewart. Although not explicitly indicated by Rosmini himself, he may have been influenced by St. Thomas, who in Summa theologica discusses suppositum and natura in relation to the equivocal functions of the terms ”God” and ”sun” as common and proper names. As previously observed, forerunners of the idea can be found in Antiquity, in Plato’s Theaetetus and Aristotle’s Metaphysics. From a historical point of view, the fully developed ”Millian” opinion that connotation is not a fundamental aspect of proper names, and that their referents are not fixed by description, could more accurately be termed the Reid-Rosmini-Mill theory.

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