What is so Magical About a Theory of Intrinsic Intensionality?

  • Deborah C Smith


Curiously missing in the vast literature on Hilary Putnam's so-called model-theoretic argument against semantic realism is any response from would-be proponents of what Putnam would call magical theories of reference. Such silence is surprising in light of the fact that such theories have occupied a significant position in the history of philosophy and the fact that there are still several prominent thinkers who would, no doubt, favor such a theory. This paper develops and examines various responses to Putnam's argument on behalf of the proponent of a magical theory of reference. While Putnam's explicit replies to such responses to his argument seem to involve little more than name calling, I develop arguments that show that there are significant problems facing any would-be proponent of such a view. While magical theories of reference are far from the strawmen Putnam seems to take them to be, there are, I argue, genuine reasons for a semantic realist to prefer a non-magical theory of reference.

Philosophical Papers Vol.32(1) 2003: 83-95

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eISSN: 0556-8641