Volume 6, 2007
Geach on Proper Names
Recently, several philosophers of language have claimed that, at least in some respects, Peter Geach proposed a view about proper names that anticipated important features of the causal theory (or historical chain theory) that was later set forth by Saul Kripke and others. Quentin Smith, for example, in his essay, "Direct, Rigid Designation and A Posteriori Necessity: A History and Critique," says explicitly that "Geach (1969) ... originated the causal or 'historical chain' theory of names" (1999). In his entry on "Proper Names" for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Graeme Forbes speaks of the "Geach-Kripke historical chain account" of proper names. In this paper, I suggest that, while there are very clear affinities between Geach's view on proper names and that of Kripke, there are several important differences, differences that are significant enough for me to claim that Geach and Kripke do not share a single account of proper names.