Designated Reading

— I’m happy to see that my former advisor, Michael Devitt, has made his book, Designation, available on his website. Designation is one of the best works in the philosophy of language published in the 80’s (perhaps the only systematic working through of the Kripke/Donnellan casual theories), yet has been out of print for a number of years, and is almost totally impossible to find through used booksellers. Check it out. Devitt is an exceptionally clear, even punchy, writer who is able to make a very dry subject matter come (somewhat) alive.

Also, check out the many papers on his CUNY website. “There is No A Priori” is nice, and “Worldmaking Made Hard,” which begins “In part I of this paper I shall demonstrate the horror of a doctrine I call ‘Worldmaking’,” gives something of the flavor of a Devitt seminar, wherein he rails against philosophers who would sacrifice the world of stones, cats, and trees for a world of words. (It’s always “stones, cats, and trees.” If in a more theoretical and scientific bent, we almost always get “electrons, muons, and curved space-time.” This comforts me.)

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center