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The Reference of Natural Kind Terms

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Luis Fernández Moreno

This book deals with the main proponents of the causal and descriptivist reference theories on natural kind terms. The two main types of contemporary reference theories on natural kind terms are the causal and the descriptivist theories. The author analyzes the main versions of these two types of theories and claims that the differences between them are not as great as it is usually assumed. He alleges that the ostensive reference fixing and reference borrowing theories should be descriptive-causal, and he also adduces that the relation of kind-identity depends on the views on kind-identity and thus involves descriptive elements. This book is an important contribution to the debate on reference in contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics.

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Preface

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This book is the result of my research on the subject of reference throughout the last years. I published a book on the reference of proper names in (2006) and after that publication I began to envisage the writing of a book on the reference of natural kind terms. Nevertheless, my research on other subjects and my duties in many academic tasks delayed the completion of the present book.

This book is devoted to the examination of various sorts of reference theories on natural kind terms, mainly causal and descriptivist, focusing on the reference of natural (chemical) kind terms, especially on the term “water”, one of the terms that has been at the center of the contemporary discussion on the reference of natural kind terms. Although H. Putnam’s and S. Kripke’s theories are at the core of this book, it also deals with the theories of some other authors criticized by them, as well as with some more recent versions of reference theories of natural kind terms. One of the claims of the book is that the antagonism between causal and descriptivist reference theories on such sorts of terms is not as great as is usually assumed.

In the last years the contributions on natural kinds and natural kind terms have increased exponentially and we have not intended to cover all of them. In the section of References there only appear the contributions that we have taken explicitly into account. Other interesting and important...

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