(b. 1940) American philosopher, logician, Emeritus Professor at Princeton University
, and part-time faculty member of the City University of New York's Graduate Center widely hailed as the "Bobby Fischer
of Philosophy" and "The one true genius" of the philosophical profession due to his contributions to modal logic
in the 1950's while still a teenager, which include possible world
semantics, i.e. interpreting the modal operators 'possible
', and 'impossible
' as 'exists in at least one possible world', 'exists in every possible world', and 'exists in no possible world', respectively. He was responsible as well for the development of the S5
system of modal logic
He is generally revered as a god among academic philosophers for his contributions to Philosophy of Language, most notably, the so-called New Theory of Reference introduced in a series of lectures at Princeton in January of 1970, which maintains that names are "rigid designators" that refer to the same object, if anything at all, in all possible worlds (stipulated counterfactual situations). Rigid designators are purely referential, lacking the associated descriptions the named object uniquely satisfies and which would allow one to determine this object as the referent, which, under the formerly dominant Frege-Russell view, names possessed.
Kripke's reputation has been somewhat tainted in recent years by charges of intellectual theft made in 1994 by Professor Quentin Smith of Western Michigan University at an APA East conference in 1994. Smith alleged that Kripke was not the orignator of the New Theory of Reference, but in fact encountered the ideas that formed their basis when he attended a 1962 lecture by Ruth Barcan Marcus at Harvard University. Although this debate is ongoing and unlikely to be resolved, many professional philosophers do not, unfortunately, give much credence to Smith's claims. The most signifcant result of these accusations is Kripke's resignation from the American Philosophical Assocation in 1995.
Some of his most important publications are:
"A Puzzle about Belief." Meaning and Use. Ed. A.Margalit. New York: Dordrecht Reidel, 1979. 239 - 83.
Naming and Necessity (1980)
Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (1982)