• John Woods
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 391)


A datum of considerable interest is what Sherlock himself says his name is. In previous chapters I’ve had more to say about Sherlock the man than about “Sherlock” the name. In the present one, I’ll say something further about the name. When I say that Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 B. C. and was cut down by his assassins 5 years later, I refer to Caesar by name, but it was not I who made him or made him reference-susceptible. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions. One is the naming of something by the person or persons who made it, polymers for example. More common are those others who owe their namability and reference-susceptibility to their mums and dads. Kripke was on to something like this in the early 1970s, conceiving of a name’s enduring and identity-preserving referential efficacy as secured by its presence in a historical chain descending from its initial bestowal, which Kripke mistakenly describes as baptism. Names are sometimes given at baptism, but they aren’t bestowed by baptism. Infants are baptized under the names they already possess or are concurrently given by their parents at the baptismal font. The Christian rite of baptism is a variation of Tevilah, the Jewish purification ritual of washing in preparation for conversion. In the Roman rite, baptism is a sacrament in which a human soul is cleansed of original sin and admitted to permanent communion within the Mystical Body of Christ. When for reasons of state, a newborn’s name is officially registered, the convention used to be that the registered name would be the name on the certificate of baptism. As with conventional arrangements of all kinds, this was a contingent one.

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Woods
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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