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ABSTRACT. The so-called New Theory of Reference (Marcus, Kripke etc.) is inspired
by the insight that in modal and intensional contexts quantifiers presuppose nondescriptive
unanalyzable identity criteria which do not reduce to any descriptive conditions. From
this valid insight the New Theorists fallaciously move to the idea that free singular terms
can exhibit a built-in direct reference and that there is even a special class of singular
terms (proper names) necessarily exhibiting direct reference. This fallacious move has
been encouraged by a mistaken belief in the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers,
by the myth of the de re reference, and a mistaken assimilation of "direct reference" to
ostensive (perspectival) identification. The de dicto vs. de re contrast does not involve
direct reference, being merely a matter of rule-ordering ("scope").
The New Theorists' thesis of the necessity of identities of directly refened-to individuals
is a consequence of an unmotivated and arbitrary restriction they tacitly impose on the
identification of individuals.



What is commonly known as the New Theory of Reference was recently

described by saying that it
includes such ideas as that names are directly referential rigid designators, the modal and
epistemic arguments for direct reference, the necessity of identity, the distinction between
referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions, the argument for a posteriori necessities . . . . (Quentin Smith, 1994, p. 94.)

In this paper it wilt be shown what is right and what is wrong in this
so-called New Theory of Reference. Very briefly, the New Theory was
developed as an account of a phenomenon which its founders thought they
had found and identified. This phenomenon was supposed to be direct
(a.k.a. rigid or de re) reference by singular terms, unmediated by any
descriptive criteria. The fallacy that the New Theory involves lies in the
fact that there is no such phenomenon to be explained as a primitive idea
that cannot be handled in the object language simply by getting clear
about its semantics and its rules of inference. After that has been done,
the allegedly primitive direct reference that supposedly needs a special
theory for its explanation becomes possible to handle by means of explicit
object-language conditions and definitions. In particular, there is no need of
Synthese 104: 245-283, 1995.
(~) 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Prinwd in the Netherlands,



postulating any special class of individual constants exhibiting the mythical

"direct reference". Such a postulation is not only not necessary; it is not
correct as a thesis about our Sprachlogik.
Yet the creators of the New Theory of Reference deserve a great deal of
credit. What they were in effect trying to get at is an extremely important
semantical phenomenon. This phenomenon is the reliance of quantifiers in
modal and other intensional contexts on criteria of identification which do
not reduce to any simple descriptive conditions. These criteria are presupposed in all uses of modal, epistemic and other intensional concepts which
also involve quantifiers. These criteria cannot themselves be expressed in
the modal language itself, because they are presupposed by it. One might
even try to characterize them by speaking of direct reference by quantified
variables. There is no such unanalyzable thing as direct reference by free
singular terms, but the very essence of quantifiers lies in their reliance on
identity criteria that are direct in the sense of not being reducible to any
descriptions or "essential properties".
The mistake in the terminology of direct or rigid or de re reference
lies in the fact that criteria of identification are not part and parcel of the
semantical phenomenon of reference. The reasons for this orthogonality of
the notions of identification and reference will become clear in the course of
this paper. Hence the New Theory of Reference flaunts its fallaciousness
in its very title. An account of "direct reference" in the only sense in
which it is correct to speak of it, does not and cannot yield a theory of
identification, and a satisfactory theory of identification does not need any
theory of reference in order to account for what there is to be accounted
In the light of hindsight, there is a kind of historical inevitability in the
way in which the fallacy of the New Theory came about. The originators
of the new theory are Ruth Marcus and Saul Kripke. A controversy is
in progress as to who deserves credit for the different ingredients of the
theory. (See the contributions of Quentin Smith and Scott Soames in this
number.) As is illustrated by the Quentin Smith vs. Scott Soames exchange,
it is not easy to figure out what view who held when. Because of this
uncertainty, we are addressing our comments to an ideal type version of
the New Theory of Reference, concentrating on the leading ideas and on
the underlying assumptions of the theory. Whatever the ultimate decision
is in this matter, Marcus and Kripke share several presuppositions and
preoccupations. One of them provides a key as to the motivation of the
New Theory of Reference. It is the deep interest that both of them have
in quantified modal logic (and the important work both of them originally
did in this field.)



At first sight, any reasonable variant of multi-world or multi-scenario

(alias possible worlds) analysis might seem to provide overwhelming reasons for the idea that there must be directly referential "rigid designators"
in our language. Marcus and Kripke have mainly considered the modalities
of necessity and possibility. In some ways, the main point is nevertheless
easier to appreciate when made by reference to epistemic notions like
Saying that someone, say a, knows that 5' wilt be abbreviated as t(~S.
Its model-theoretic import is to say that in all the scenarios compatible
with what a knows, it is the case that 5'. Whatever difficulties there may
be about this analysis do not affect this paper. However, when it comes
to knowledge about individuals, we have to make a distinction. On the
one hand, a may know something, say that S[b], of whoever is or may
be referred to by the singular term "b". For instance Stefan may know
something about Marie Antoinette's lover, whoever he might have been,
for instance that he was not French. Such knowledge would be expressed
by Stefan by using the very phrase "Marie Antoinette's lover". The reason
is that since Stefan does not know who the gentleman in question is, the
term "Marie Antoinette's lover" will pick out different individuals in the
different scenarios compatible with everything Stefan knows. Hence Stefan
cannot express his knowledge by means of a term which would refer to
the same gentleman in all these different scenarios. In general, when a
knows that 5,[@ the term "b" will refer to different individuals in different
scenarios compatible with everything that a knows (except when a does
not know who b is). Such knowledge is expressed by a statement of the

However, a may instead (or also) know something about the individual
who in fact is b, without knowing that he, she or it is b. For instance, Stefan
may know some fact or other about Count von Fersen, who in fact was the
unhappy queen's paramour, even if Stefan is blissfully oblivious of their
liaisons dangereuses. In such a case, an outsider might truly say "Stefan
knows of the individual who in fact was Marie Antoinette's lover that he
" ,
or even "Stefan knows that Marie Antoinette's lover
". In
this case, the phrase "Marie Antoinette's lover" will have to pick out the
same gentleman (viz. Count yon Fersen) in all the scenarios admitted by
Stefan's knowledge, even though he could not use this phrase to specify
the object of his knowledge. In general, knowledge "of the individual who
in fact is b" cannot be expressed by a statement of the form (1) unless "b"
picks out the same individual in all the scenarios compatible with what



a knows. And this seems scarcely possible unless "b" refers to the same
individual in all possible scenarios. Such terms designate whatever they
designate necessarily, in Kripke's (sexist?) language "rigidly".
This latter kind of knowledge is sometimes said to be de re whereas the
former sort is called de dicto knowledge.
Hence it might seem that, in order to express de re knowledge, we
must have at our disposal "rigid designators" referring to whatever they
refer to necessarily. Furthermore, this rigid reference cannot be mediated
by any contingent definite description. For such a description can always
in principle refer to different individuals in different possible scenarios.
Instead, the protagonists of the New Theory of Reference typically identify
their directly referential singular terms with proper names. For instance,
Ruth Marcus writes that "... [An] identifying tag is a proper name of the
thing . . . . This tag, a proper name, has no meaning. It simply tags." (1961,
pp. 30%10.)



This line of thought has some superficial appeal. It is undoubtedly what

has lent the New Theory of Reference the popularity it has enjoyed among
philosophers who do not have a firm grasp of the logical situation. In
reality, it nevertheless does not provide a shred of genuine evidence for the
indispensability of rigid designators or a fortiori for the New Theory of
Reference. We are not insulting Ruth Marcus or Saul Kripke by as much
as hinting that this might have been their real reason for developing the
New Theory, or for subscribing to it. The reason why such a reason is
spurious is that the rigid reference that is needed for the expression of de
re modalities is automatically provided by quantifiers. We just do not need
the dubious postulation of rigid free singular terms if we have quantifiers
at our disposal and if we can give an independent account of them. We are
convinced that it is precisely here that the superior experience and insight
of Rugh Marcus and Saul Kripke in the field of quantified modal logic set
them apart from the hoi polloi acolytes of the New Theory of Reference.
In fact, questions concerning direct reference of a different sort arise as
soon as quantifiers are used in modal and intensional contexts.
Indeed, the kind of work Marcus and Kripke did in quantified modal
logic quickly shows to perceptive theorists certain facts of a logician's life.
As soon as one's quantified modal or intensional logic involves what is
commonly (but somewhat inaccurately) called "quantifying in", questions



of identifications inevitably arise. Consider, for instance, a sentence of the







where N is the necessity operator and K~ the epistemic operator "a knows
that". On the normal (referential) interpretation of quantifiers, the truth of
(3) in a possible world w is formulated with respect to valuation (value
assignment function) 9 by the following pair of clauses:

(w,g) ~ (3x)F[x] iff there is an individual 3 C dom(w) such

that (w,9 U {(x,/3)}) ~ F[z]


(w, g) ~ N F iff (w, 9) ~ F in all epistemic a-alternatives to w.

Here g U {(z, :3)} is the valuation which extends 9 with the value 3 for z.
Also, dora(w) can be taken to be either the class of all individuals existing
in w or else the class of individuals well defined in w, i.e. of which it makes
sense to ask whether they exist in w.
Similar truth conditions can be formulated for (2).
Thus in each of(2) and (3), one is saying that something is true (viz., that
Six]) of one and the same individual a in a range of different possibilities
(scenarios, possible worlds, possible situations, or whatever you want to
call them.) In (2), the relevant possibilia are all the states of affairs or
courses of events that are being considered possible. In (3) they are all the
possibilities left open by what a knows. As a slogan, as we may perhaps
put it, quantifying in presupposes that criteria of cross-identification have
been given.
These criteria cannot themselves be expressed by quantifiers. For in
order to do so, we must be able to compare the denizens of any two scenarios ("possible worlds") for identity. And this inevitably involves quantifying in, or its equivalent. For instance, such criteria of identity clearly cannot
be expressed by means of definite descriptions, for such descriptions would
themselves involve quantifiers. In the jargon of the New Theorists of Reference, we might perhaps say that variables of quantification are "directly
referential and are not equivalent to definite descriptions".
This impossibility of giving an account of cross-identification of individuals by means of the usual apparatus of quantifiers, connectives etc. is
not due to some curious feature of quantified modal logic. It is due to the
nature of the question as a foundational or perhaps rather transcendental



problem. The task is to spell out the preconditions of the use of quantitiers in modal and intensional contexts. An account of this kind can use
quantifiers only on pain of blatant circularity.
It seems to us that both Marcus and Kripke deserve a great deal of credit
for perceiving this basic problem situation. Their work in quantificational
modal logic undoubtedly brought home to them the basic fact that the use
of variables of quantification depends on irreducible cross-identification
relations unmediated by definite descriptions.
We are convinced, even though direct evidence is hard to come by,
that it was Marcus' and Kripke's insight into the reliance of quantitiers on independently understood criteria of cross-identification that led
them to emphasize the need of "direct referentiality". For those criteria of
cross-identification themselves cannot be defined in terms of quantifiers
(including quantifiers hidden in definite descriptions), just because they
are conceptually prior to quantifiers. This motivation of the New Theory
is nevertheless insufficient.



The crucial point is that once we have quantifiers at our disposal, de re

knowledge and de re modalities can be expressed without any recourse
to rigid free singular terms, such as proper names. For instance, the de re
counterpart to (1) can be formulated as

( 3 z ) ( x = b A I(~S[z]).

In a similar way, de dicto and de re necessities can be expressed by


N S[b]

and by

( B x ) ( x = b A NS[~])

In an analogous way, we can distinguish what is necessary for whoever
is or may be b, from what is necessary for the individual who in fact is b.
In other words, we can distinguish de dicto and de re necessities.
More generally, it is important to realize that if the criteria of crossidentification are specified, quantification into modal and intensional contexts makes perfect sense completely independently of what one may think



of names and other singular terms, including their relation to the individuals they stand for. There is no need to assume any particular class of "rigid
designators". If a singular term "b" is a "rigid designator" as far as the
given class of possible worlds is concerned, this can be expressed in the
language by means of quantifiers as


(3x)N(b = x)

Likewise, the fact that "b" picks up one and the same individual in all the
scenarios compatible with what a knows can be expressed by

(~x)I(~(b = z)

In more colloquial terms, (9) says that a knows who, what, where . . . . b is,
where the choice of the question word depends on the range of the variable
z in (9).
What (8)-(9) do is to express cross-identity between certain classes of
possible worlds. They show how this can be done independently of there
being any syntactic class of "logically proper names" or "rigid designators". They show that rigid designators can be expressed, and afortiori
accounted for, in terms of quantifiers. And quantifiers make sense as soon
as the criteria of cross-identification have been understood completely
independently of questions of any possible rigid designation by free singular terms including names. This is actually a line of reasoning which has
been countenanced by Kripke himself. In Kripke (1976, p. 374), he has
acknowledged the same way of imposing rigid reference on an a priori
nonrigid singular term as we have relied on in (8) and (9). And in Kripke
(1963), he treats quantifiers in modal contexts in a referential way as we
did in (4) without any appeal to rigid designators.
A corollary to this basic feature of the semantics of quantifiers is a
restriction to the validity of some of the familiar inference rules of the
usual non-modal logic. For instance, instances of existential generalization







are valid only on the assumption that the term "b" picks out the same
individual in all the relevant possible worlds. This does not cause any



problems in setting up one's quantified modal or epistemic logic, however.

All we need to add to (6) and (7) is an additional premise which in the two
cases (6) and (7) is (4) or (5) respectively.
The correct rules of inference will therefore look like this:


In (10)-(13) we have assumed that S[b] is first-order. These rules can
nevertheless be generalized to formulas of a more complex structure. The
underlying conceptual point can likewise be generalized.
What happens here is essentially that the idea of (more or less) rigid
reference is explained by reference to quantifiers. Moreover, this treatment
is not foreign to natural language and ordinary discourse. In fact, the
natural-language counterparts to the de re constructions (5) and (7) would
be something like the following:

a knows of the individual who is in fact b that he or she satisfies


The individual [say z] who in fact is b is such that necessarily

These exhibit a striking parallelism with (5) and (7). It is especially interesting to note that in the main assertive part of (14) and (15), the singular
term "b" is replaced by an anaphoric pronoun, not unlike the way bound
variables replace "b" in the transition from (2) to (7) and from (3) to (5).



The striking thing about these important insights into the way quantifiers
and quantified variables behave in modal contexts is that they have as such
nothing to do with the references of singular terms. On the contrary, they
amount to an elegant argument for the dispensability of rigid designators
and other directly referential free singular terms. For such developments
as we have just reported amount to showing how the job for which rigid
designators were allegedly needed can be done so to speak free of charge
by quantifiers. As we have seen, quantifiers presuppose a kind of direct
referentiality of the values of their variables. But as soon as we have them
at our disposal, we do not need any other kind of direct representability.



In sum, the right slogan of modal logicians should therefore be: We do it

with quantifiers. And this dispensability seems to invalidate all arguments
for the need of rigid designators or anything remotely like them in natural
or formal languages.
Moreover, the kind of semantical rigidity exhibited by variables of
quantification should not be called referential rigidity. Bound variables do
not, in any literal sense, refer to anything at all. The rigidity and directness
they exhibit is not a matter of reference, but of criteria of cross-identity.
But as we indicated, the arguments for rigid designators which we
have so far reviewed are not of the kind we suspect Ruth Marcus and
Saul Kripke as relying on in their belief for the need of rigid designators.
With their expert knowledge of quantified modal logic, they are in an
ideal position to appreciate what can be done by means of quantifiers in
modal logic. In fact, as we pointed out above, Kripke has acknowledged
the possibility of expressing rigid reference in intensional contexts by
means of quantifiers. What, then, has led the New Theorists of Reference
from an important insight into the semantics of quantifiers to a wrong
theory of reference? They must have assumed for some reason or other
that quantifiers cannot stand on their own feet independently of singular
reference. And their alleged reason is fairly obvious. The bridge that we can
think of Kripke and Marcus as relying on is the so-called substitutional
interpretation of quantifiers. Both Marcus and Kripke are on record as
defending the possibility of a substitutional interpretation. This view of
quantifiers in effect identifies existential and universal quantifiers with
often infinite disjunctions and conjunctions of the substitution instances of
their matrixes with respect to some specific set of substitution-values of
the quantified variables. (Cf. Marcus, 1961, pp. 314-5; Kripke, 1976, p.
If so, each use of a quantifier presupposes a set of substitution-values of
its variable. If the substitutional interpretation is to yield a correct account
of the meaning of quantifiers, these substitution-values obviously must be
rigidly designating singular terms. Hence we cannot understand quantifiers,
so this argument runs, without postulating rigid designators.
It is important to realize how tempting this line of thought is. In discussing individuals in a context involving modalities, one is in effect
discussing them as denizens of different possible worlds. Then the requirements of referring to an individual naturally become perhaps tacitly in the
"intuitions" of the philosopher in question, the requirement of referring to
it in all the possible worlds, i.e. necessarily. And presumably we have a
better way of speaking of such rigid reference, including a way of indicating linguistically when a term refers rigidly. But from this, it does not yet



follow that we must have in our own language a special class of free singular terms that refer rigidly (or any such terms, for that matter). As was seen
above, normally interpreted ("referential") quantifiers, constitute a fully
adequate linguistic medium of rigid reference. The only possible rationale
for the requirement that there must be a class of individual constants that
refer rigidly is that quantifiers are interpreted substitutionally.
Thus we may think of the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers as
the bridge that led the New Theorists of Reference from a valid insight into
the semantics of quantifiers to a fallacious theory of reference and which
prompted the proponents of this theory to reverse the fight direction of
explanation here. Above, we showed how the notion of rigid designation
can, in a sense, be expressed by means of quantifiers and hence automatically explained by reference to how quantifiers operate. The New Theorists
of Reference want, on the contrary, to explain quantifiers in terms of rigid
designation. Their line of thought goes somewhat as follows:
The admissible substitution-values of quantifiers in the usual rules of
inference are rigid designators or such contextually "rigid designators" as
satisfy conditions like (3) or (4). Since the meaning of quantifiers is to be
explained by reference to the given fixed class of substitution-values of
quantified variables, quantification makes sense only on the assumption
that there is in the language in question a class of rigid designators to serve
as such substitution-values. Marcus and Kripke identify them with proper



This line of thought leading to the New Theory of Reference is nevertheless fallacious. The fallacy lies in the use of the idea of the substitutional
interpretation of quantifiers. For this interpretation just does not do justice
to the way quantifiers work. It is not only the case that the so-called substitutional interpretation of quantifiers is not needed as an account of direct
reference (or as a part of such an account). A substitutional interpretation
is not even possible as a self-sufficient account of the meanings of quantitiers. Drawing upon some work that we have published or are publishing
elsewhere (see Hintikka, forthcoming; Hintikka and Sandu 1989; Hintikka
and Sandu, forthcoming), the failure of the substitutional interpretation can
easily be explained.
Basically, what the substitutional account overlooks is the character
of quantifiers as codifying certain possible choices which may depend on
other choices. This does not make a difference as long as we are dealing
with isolated sentence-initial quantifiers. But when quantifiers occur inside



a sentence, the truth-making choices that quantifiers assert to be possible

wilt typically depend on some earlier choices but not on others. A substitutional account of quantifiers cannot always make such distinctions. For
instance, in a sentence like (Vz)( 3 y )(Vz ) ( 3 u) S [z, 9, z, u], the cho ice of a
value of 9 depends on the value of z but not not on that of z, while the
value of u depends on both z and z. Such dependencies can be captured by
the substitutional account only if the truth-making value of an existentially
quantified variable depends on the values of all the universal quantifiers
within the (syntactical) scope of which it occurs. This assumption is made
in ordinary first-order logic whose favorite role in recent philosophical
logic therefore helps to account for the popularity of the substitutional
account. But when that artificial and arbitrary assumption is given up, the
substitutional account no longer suffices as an account of quantifiers. In
other words, the substitutional interpretation works in ordinary first-order
logic - or seems to do so - only by virtue of an arbitrary oversimplification
which is built into that logic. It can easily be seen that the usual formation
rules for first-order logic rule out certain perfectly possible patterns of
dependence between different quantifiers and/or different connectives.
We will indicate the independence of (Qlz) of (Q2.q) by writing it
out as ( Q 1 z / Q 2 9 ) , and likewise for connectives. Then it is easily shown
that an independent quantifier expression cannot simply be replaced by
the corresponding disjunction or conjunction of its substitution-instances,
as the substitutional interpretation requires. This is sometimes impossible
even in a finite universe. For instance,



9, z, ,2]

cannot be so replaced, nor can even


(Vz)(3q/Vz)5"[z, y]

According to the substitutional story, the latter should be replaced by a

sentence of the form

Ai Vj 5'[ai, at]

, where a i and aj are all the individuals in our domain. In reality, in the
correct translation the disjunction would be independent of the conjunction:

Ai(Vj/Ai)S[ai, aS]

which is equivalent with


At v~ S[a~,at]



but not with (18), as it ought to be on the substitutional view. In general, if we try to express the meanings of quantified sentences in terms of
their substitution-instances, we find that independent quantifiers must be
explicated by means of independent connectives. Hence the substitutional
theory of quantifiers is not applicable in general without further explanations, except perhaps in the artificially simple case of received first-order
In a deeper sense, the substitutional account does not work in ordinary
first-order logic, either, as an interpretation of quantifiers. In a charitable
mood, we could say that the translation or paraphrase which the so-called
substitutional interpretation relies on may be correct, but it does not amount
to an explanation of how quantifiers operate. The most important aspect
of their modus operandi is the network of their mutual dependencies and
independencies. These relations of dependence and independence are left
unexplained by the so-called substitutional interpretation. They are simply
replaced by the same relationships, this time holding between propositional connectives instead of quantifiers. In this deeper sense, there simply is
no such thing as the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers. The substitutional idea is not, and cannot be, a full account of the meaning of
quantifiers, for it does not explain the most important aspect of the semantics of quantifiers, viz. their relations of dependence and independence.
One thing that this fact implies is that the damage to the substitutional
account cannot be localized. The failure of the substitutional account of
quantifiers does not concern only informationally independent quantifiers.
For what is seen there is the general truth that a substitutional account
cannot do justice to the relations of dependence and independence holding between different quantifiers. And these relations are the lifeblood of
quantifiers in ordinary first-order logic quite as much as in independencefriendly logic. In ordinary first-order logic the failure of the substitutional
account is merely hidden by the artificial notational simplification which
Frege and Russell foisted on logicians.
Admittedly, the New Theorists of Reference have not usually relied on
the substitutional interpretation in so many words. Kripke appears to be
aware to some extent of the dependence of his ideas on the substitutional
interpretation as evinced by the fact that a denial of the substitutionaljnterpretation provoked him to put forward a defense of the interpretation that
one is tempted to describe as nasty, brutish and long. (Cf. Kripke, 1976.)
The dependence of Kripke's theory on the substitutional interpretation
might help to explain his ardor.
It is nevertheless fair to say that the substitutional interpretation of
quantifiers is merely a symptom of a deeper mistake that has also prompted



the parallel fallacy of the New Theory. But even though this is the case,
to see the basis of the New Theory of Reference in the substitutional
interpretation of quantifiers helps crucially to understand the nature (and
the shortcomings) of the New Theory of Reference. Among other things,
it helps to understand why it has been claimed to be a theory of reference
and not just a theory of identification in modal and intensional contexts.
One can perhaps even identify the deeper flaw in the thinking of the
New Theorists. It is a failure to appreciate the importance of the semantic
interplay between quantifiers as distinguished from what can be said of the
meanings of quantifiers considered in isolation from each other. Once this
is realized, our criticism is seen to be applicable even if the substitutional
interpretation is an emblem rather than a premise of the New Theory of
To a considerable extent, the failure of the substitutional interpretation
of quantifiers is parallel with the failure of Tarski-type truth-definitions in
independence-friendly first-order languages. In the case of truth-definitions,
too, this failure reveals a fundamental weakness which is present but as
it were only latent already in their application to ordinary first-order languages. (See here Sandu, forthcoming, and Hintikka, forthcoming, chapter
Our results nevertheless show that in a right perspective the substitutional interpretation has a large grain of truth, and can perhaps be defended
as a thesis about quantifiers. A comparison between sentences like (17) and
(18) shows that the behavior of quantifiers is reflected in the behavior of
propositional connectives. What the substitutional interpretation cannot be
is a full account of the meaning ofquantifiers. For that purpose, an account
of the dependence and independence of quantifiers and propositional connectives of each other is needed. And the substitutional "interpretation"
just does not provide it. tt merely relies on the analogous dependencies
between connectives instead of accounting for them. The substitutional "theory" may be a correct theorem about quantifiers, but it is not an
interpretation of quantifiers.
We have also to be quite clear about what precisely is meant by the
substitutional interpretation of quantifiers. In one sense, a substitutional
interpretation of quantifiers cannot be objected to. Anyone is free to choose
one's interpretation freely: cuius l~gio, eius quant~ficatio, so to speak.
What is at issue in Kripke and Marcus seems to be a much more striking
thesis than the possibility of some sort of substitutional interpretation of
quantifiers. For Marcus, it is the idea that a substitutional account is the
only reasonable way of implementing the ordinary realistic understanding
of quantifiers. For Kripke, it is the consilience of the substitutional and of



the objectual quantification (Cf. Kripke, 1977, p. 377.) It is for this reason
that Kripke can claim that the objectual and the substitutional accounts of
quantifiers are equivalent or in any case differ only with respect to the class
of entities that quantifiers range over.
This assumption of the convergence of the substitutional and the objectual accounts is not a monopoly of the New Theorists. At least in his
younger years, Quine seems to have countenanced some kind of substitutional account when he describes names as "those constant expressions
which replace variables and are replaced by variables according to the usual logical laws of quantification", while proclaiming from the ontological
side of his mouth that "to be is to be a value of a bound variable". (See
Quine, 1939.) And if he subsequently gave up the assumption of the two
accounts, it was because the substitutional account relies on the prosaic
but false assumption of there being a designator in the language for each
member of one's universe of discourse. (See Quine 1961, p. 328.) Such a
reason for forsaking the stronger forms of the substitutional interpretation
are a far cry from the much sharper thesis argued for in our paper here that
the substitutional account is incapable of explaining single-handedly the
logical modus operandi of quantifiers.




In brief, the reliance of quantifiers on cross-identification does not prove

that the idea of "rigid designators" is a primitive idea. Such a motivation
rests on fallacious assumptions. Indeed, what we have seen suggests that
the very idea of rigid reference should be purged from the semantical
theory of both logical and natural languages in so far as it is claimed to be
an unanalyzable and self-explanatory notion. In reality, so the suggestion
goes, the idea of rigid designation of singular terms is parasitic on the kind
of direct reference codified by quantifiers.
And even in discussions that prima facie have little to do with the interpretation of quantifiers, the notion of individual that plays a tremendous
role in them in effect insinuates the entire quantificational logic into the
problem situation. For what is meant by an individual? It is something that
satisfies the laws of first-order logic. It has been taken as axiomatic that
if two terms pick out the same individual, they are interchangeable salva
veritatem. Even more instructively, as Quine has pointed out, if a singular
term really picks out an individual, it is amenable to existential generalization. But in modal contexts the feasibility of existential generalization is,



as we saw, tantamount to referring to the same individual in all the relevant

This way of smuggling in what amounts to the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers can be given a more formalistic twist. What we
can see here is a refusal to change the usual first-order laws of existential
generalization and universal instantiation. This forces the defenders of the
inferential status quo to accept inferences like (10) and (11) as valid. But
they are valid only if b is (in the relevant class of possible worlds) a "rigid
designator". Hence it might look as if the familiar laws of logical inference
force us to postulate rigid designators.
Such a naive faith in the received formulation of the laws of quantificational inference is quickly dispersed by a model-theoretic analysis of the
conceptual situation along the lines indicated in Section 3 above.
The situation vis-a-vis formal laws of logic has often been obscured
by philosophers' choice of problems. The applicability of the law of the
substitutivity of identity is easily seen to be independent of questions
of cross-identification. Hence, focusing on the problems connected with
substitution in modal and epistemic contexts ("Frege's problem") is not
likely to clarify the main issues. (It has not done so.) A royal road is instead
offered by the problem of understanding quantifiers and in particular of
understanding existential generalization.
The substitutional interpretation of quantifiers is also frequently smuggled in via the locution of "ranging over" which is supposed to explain
the workings of quantifiers. This locution is plentiful in most writers in
this field, Kripke included. It is seductive, because the truth of a quantified
sentence like ( 3x)S Ix] obviously depends on whether there exist individuals which satisfy 5~[z] and whose names therefore make Six] true when
used as substitution-values of "z". The fallacy here ties in the assumption
that this is a sufficient explanation of the modus operandi of quantifiers. In
reality, such a thesis of sufficiency rests on two false assumptions.
First, the choice of the truth-making value of x may or may not depend
on the earlier choices of individuals whose names occur in ,5"[x].The dependence or independence is not covered by the "ranging over" metaphor. This
metaphor is at its happiest when the choice of the value of x may depend
on all the individuals whose names occur in Six]. But to assume such total
dependence comes close to simply assuming the substitutional account.
In short, the "ranging over" idea fails for the same reason as the alleged
substitutional interpretation of quantifiers: it overlooks totally the crucial
questions of interdependence and independence between different quantitiers.



Second, when modal or intensional concepts occur in S[x], the "ranging over" metaphor becomes inadequate for a different reason. In such
a case, the individuals who are the values of the variable x are in effect
considered as members of more than one model ("scenario", "possible
world"). This presupposes cross-identification which is not explained at
all by the "ranging over" metaphor. Hence to assume that the "ranging
over" idea is a sufficient explanation of the quantifiers presupposes that
the cross-identification problem is trivial. And this assumption is nothing
but the postulation of a prefabricated individual making its appearances in
all the different worlds. Such a postulation is blatantly circular.



It is useful in understanding the motivation of the New Theorists of Reference to think of them as relying on the substitutional interpretation of
quantifiers. However, to do so is not fully accurate historically, and it leaves
certain important collateral assumptions of the New Theorists unaccounted
In fact, the New Theorists are not unaware of the expressibility of
direct reference by means of quantifiers. For instance, Kripke, in his classical paper on modal logic from 1963, presents his semantics ofquantifiers
in modal contexts entirely in objectual terms, and in his defense of substitutional quantification (see Kripke, 1976), he shows how singular terms
(standing for definite descriptions) in intensional contexts can be given a
de re interpretation by using quantifiers. Yet in the very same paper, Kripke
argued for the thesis that proper names refer rigidly. (See Kripke, 1972.)
Thus the New Theorists obviously think that we have to assume rigid
designation by singular terms even though we have ordinary (objectual)
quantifiers at our disposal, and even though they can be used to spell out the
conditions on which a singular term refers rigidly, as in (8) and (9). They
are in effect claiming tbr reasons other than the alleged and now refuted
need of a substitutional interpretation of quantifiers, that some singular
terms, viz. proper names, exhibit intrinsically rigid reference and that our
reconstruction (or is it deconstruction?) of direct reference by means of
quantifiers does not do the whole job. It might first appear that what we
have shown is merely the possibility of drafting quantifiers into service to
facilitate direct reference. But the real problem is elsewhere according to
them. Even if rigid designators could in principle be eliminated in favor
of quantifiers, free singular terms cma (and do) operate in natural language
by direct (de re) reference.



And what is to be explained is apparently just the use of proper names

de re, that is, with a direct reference. It is in fact unmistakable that such a
use exists. For instance, a sentence like

Tom knows that Dick kicked Harry

has a use in which it means


Tom knows of the individuals who in fact are Dick and Harry
that the former kicked the latter.

Our quantifier paraphrase of (22) as


( 3 x ) ( 3 y ) ( ( x = Dick) A (y = Harry) A I~'Tom(x kicked ~))

captures the force of (22), but it does not explain how the names "Dick"
and "Harry" can exhibit direct reference in (21), it may be alleged.
This objection is in order, but it relies too much on the surface forms
of formal as well as of natural languages. Why cannot we simply say that
(22) and hence (23) spells out the logical form of (21) which its surface
form hides? We do not see any valid objection to so doing.
However, it turns out that we do not have to do so. W~ do not have to
resort to quantifier paraphrases like (23). We already have at our disposal
an eminently natural way of bringing the syntactical forms of formal and
natural languages closer together, without introducing any new primitive
ideas. This way is to bring in the idea of informational independence. We
will indicate the independence of (3x) of K~ by writing it ( 3 x / K ~ ) , and
similarly for other notions. It is to be noted that the slash is not really a
new logical notion, but only a punctuation mark serving the same kind of
purpose as brackets. By means of the slash notation we can represent the
logical form of all the different kinds of knowledge statements, as has been
explained elsewhere. (See e.g. Hintikka 1992.)
Now it was argued as early as in I985 by Hintikka and Kulas that in
the semantics of natural languages we have to associate a game rule also
with individual constants, including proper names. As with any rule, its
applications can be independent of applications of other rules. Thus we
can write


kicked (Harry/t(Tom))

which is logically equivalent with (23). More generally, the de re reading

of a constant "b" in a context governed by K~ can be expressed by


Thus from our perspective the so called de re reading amounts merely

to a special use of the slash symbol "/". The difference between the de



dicto and de re readings is merely the absence or the presence of the

slash. This aligns the formalization of the de re reading (23) very nearly

with its natural language surface-form expression (21). Furthermore the

fact that the difference between the de dicto and de re readings is not
indicated in natural languages syntactically becomes a special case of
a wider generalization, in that informational independence (as codified
by "/") is in general not expressed in natural languages by any uniform
syntactical device. And even this fact admits of an interesting pragmatic
explanation, as Hintikka (1990) has pointed out.
This shows what in fact is going on in the so-called de re or direct
reference use of proper names and other free singular terms. Contrary to
what the New Theorists imagine, it is not an unanalyzable special use of
such names or terms. It is merely a matter of rule ordering, more specifically, a matter of dependence or independence. The difference between
the de dicto and de re use is as much a matter of logical form as the
difference between "someone loves everybody" and "everybody is loved
by someone". The ingredients of such forms, be they quantifiers or proper
names, are not themselves used in a special way, except in the sense that
they are ingredients of different forms. Hence it is not only unnecessary
but positively misleading to speak here of a special use of proper names.
The idea that there is an unanalyzable de re use of proper names or of
any other singular terms is a false and pernicious myth. We can call it the
myth of the de re reference. In reality, such terms as de dicto, de re, "direct
reference" etc. should be eliminated from the primitive terminology of
logical and linguistic theorizing. They are strictly speaking derived terms,
definable by reference to rule ordering, including the mutual dependence
and independence of different semantical rules.
Thus, even if we do not think that direct reference is mediated only by
quantifiers in natural languages, we still do not need nor should we postulate
any separate class of rigid designators. Our argument in this paper does
not depend on an elimination of direct reference by proper names in favor
of quantifiers. It can thus be seen that the logical framework used here
does not only bring the surface forms of formal and natural languages
together. What is needed notationally for the purpose of expressing the de
dicto vs. de re distinction is not necessarily the quantifiers (3z), (iVy). It
suffices to introduce the independence-indicator "/". And this slash symbol
does not introduce any new concepts into one's logic, for it is merely a
punctuation mark, just like parentheses. This slash notation allows a wealth
of finer logical distinctions than the logic used by the New Theorists. As a
result, our arguments turn on logical and semantical points and not on any
do-it-yourself theories of meaning or language learning.



Most importantly, our framework has helped to uncover a second main

ingredient in the complex syndrome that is the New Theory of Reference,
independent of the idea that direct reference needs the backing of a substitutional account of quantifiers. There is clearly an independent belief among
the New Theorists in a direct (de re) reference by suitable singular terms, in
the first place by proper names. We have analyzed the phenomenon that is
usually described in terms of the de re vs. de dicto distinction. Our analysis
shows that the logic and semantics of the phenomenon in question offers
absolutely no aid and comfort for the myth of de re reference.
It is interesting to see that Kripke has expressed interest in an account of
the de re readings of singular terms which would bring it closer to natural
language than such quantifier paraphrases as (5) and (7). (Cf. Kripke, 1976,
pp. 374--5.) What we have done is to provide such an account. However,
this account cuts much deeper than Kripke would allow. He restricts his
question and his quest merely to the problem as to when an intrinsically
nonrigid singular term (e.g. a definite description) has a de re reading.
Once we have our account in place, it does much more. It shows that there
is no need of postulating any particular singular terms that necessarily
refer rigidly or even of postulating any unanalyzable de re use of singular
The persistence of the myth of rigid reference in the absence of any
solid logical evidence is a puzzling phenomenon. As far as we can see,
there are at least three further sources of the myth of direct reference. One
of them will be discussed below in Section 13. It involves an assimilation
of two different modes of identification to each other. A second one is
a metaphysical assumption concerning alternative scenarios (alias "other
possible worlds"). It will also be dealt with below in Section 9. A third
source of belief in the myth of de re reference is a doctrine of ostensive
definition as the paradigm case of teaching and learning the references of
singular terms. This third mason, like the other two, is in our judgement fallacious. This mistake is mediated by a confusion between different modes
of identification discussed below in Section 13. In this case, the mistake is
so deep (and so widespread), however, that it requires an extensive separate
treatment which will not be attempted here.
Likewise, in the light of analyses of the same sort as have been sketched
in this section, Donnellan's (1968) distinction between referential and
attributive uses of definite descriptions can be shown to be confused and
unnecessary as an unanalyzable distinction. This point is argued in Hintikka
(1996), and hence need not be elaborated here.




If we now return to the New Theory of Reference, its dependence on

the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers provides us with means of
understanding many of its other features. For one thing, this dependence
has repercussions on the purely logical level. The crucial feature in the
transition from ordinary first-order logic to quantified modal and intensional logic is the need to modify the basic laws of quantification in the
way illustrated by the step from (10) to (11) and from (12) to (13). This step
is but an acknowledgement of the fact that the values of bound variables
are genuine individuals, the same individuals in all the relevant possible worlds. Because of their attempted reliance on rigid constant singular
terms, the New Theorists have imagined that they do not need to revise
the basic laws of quantificational logic in the way we have indicated. For
a proper name "b", they fancy that (8) is necessarily true, and they are not
really interested in other substitution values of quantified variables. They
have not dared to claim that (9) is always necessarily true, since it plainly
is not. Instead, they have refused to take epistemic logic at its face value.
All this is of course a huge mistake. It makes it impossible to treat ordinary
(non-rigid) singular terms by means of the logic that would ensue from
the ideas of the New Theorists. The applicability of their very own modal
logic is bound to be very limited. It even turns out that, unless some further
changes are made, their logic is demonstrably incomplete. (This is shown
in Hintikka, forthcoming, ch. 11 .)
In sum, the New Theorists have failed to see that some of the most
basic laws of ordinary first-order logic have to be modified when we move
to modal or epistemic logic, and afortiori failed to see how they must be
On the interpretational level, the New Theorists' reliance on a substitutional account of quantifiers and their postulation of de re reference have
likewise misdirected their attention. Instead of focusing on the criteria of
cross-identification, which were seen above to be crucial to questions of
direct reference, the New Theorists have been talking and obviously also
thinking as if they were putting forward, well, a new theory of reference.
This is either too narrow or too broad a perspective on the problem of direct
reference. On the one hand, if by the references of names and other linguistic expressions one merely means their references in the actual world,
then one's theory of reference will be incapable of handling the problems
of necessary or known reference, since these problems pertain to comparisons between individuals for their identity across several possible worlds.
In particular, the criteria of identity in the actual world are independent of



cross-identification. Later in this paper, it will be seen that in each of the

following statements

It is now six o'clock


That man is Saul Kripke


I am Quentin Smith

the identity is asserted to hold between entities whose criteria of crossidentification are importantly different (perspectival vs. public.) Yet no
special sense of identity is involved, and it is even dubious whether any
distinction between two different kinds of reference is involved. On the
other hand, if your theory of reference deals with the way the references
of names and other singular terms are determined in any old (or new)
possible world (or several possible scenarios), then much more is involved
than questions of cross-identity. The question as to how the reference of
a term depends on the possible world in which this reference is located
is according to Montague (1974) the same as the question of its meaning.
And even if you do not follow Montague completely in this regard, his
view illustrates how much more is involved in the question as to how
precisely the "world lines" of different individuals are drawn than in the
much narrower question as to according to what principles they are drawn.
The main division between such principles is that between perspectival
and public world lines, to be explained below in Section 13. There you can
see clearly how little these principles predetermine the specifics of world
lines, Hence a theory of cross-identification does not amount to a theory
of reference, even for singular terms. And yet it is all that is needed to
understand the phenomenon of direct reference.
Furthermore, the tacit reliance of the New Theorists on the substitutional theory of quantifiers also explains the shallowness of the theoretical
accounts provided by the New Theory. This theory in effect strives to
explain the operation of quantifiers by reference to the rigidity of designation by proper names. But how is the rigidity of proper names to be
explained or even expressed in an appropriate logical notation? What does
it take to say that the individuals a given designator picks out in all the
different possible worlds are identical? Whatever difficulties there may be
here, there is no hope in the world of expressing this without quantifiers.
And of course resorting to quantifiers would be circular.


Thus in an important sense the New Theory does not, and cannot provide
any real account of what constitutes a rigid designator, that is, how indi-



viduals are actually identified between different scenarios. All we get is

explanation by postulation. A fixed store of individuals is first postulated,
and then another store of proper names is postulated to enable us to refer
to them. But no account is really provided of the constitutive question of
what counts as identity between possible worlds.
Kripke (1972) expresses this point by saying that we do not really
cross-identify individuals existing in different possible worlds. Rather,
we must think of those possible worlds as being constructed out of the
same individuals, according to him. But all that this amounts to is to
refuse to consider seriously the transcendental question of how identities
between worlds are constituted in one's conceptual system. It reduces this
conceptual and transcendental question to naive speculative metaphysics
as to how different possible worlds are constructed.
This metaphysics is also extremely implausible. What Kripke and Marcus primarily deal with is presumably some sort of logical, conceptual
or metaphysical necessity and possibility. If so, saying that all possible
worlds are constructed out of the same individuals implies that it is some
class of individuals such that it is logically (conceptually, metaphysically)
impossible that there should exist other ones. This is an unintuitive and
arbitrary assumption for which no half-way plausible arguments have ever
been given.
This is not the end of the story, however. Indeed, the idea of a fixed
store of prefabricated individuals is not original with Kripke (1972). It
occurs among other places in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. There individuals,
or rather objects of any logical type, constitute the "substance" of the world
out of which all possible states of affairs must be assembled. 1
But Wittgenstein had further philosophical reasons for the assumption
of a constant domain of individuals (objects). Like Russell, he believed
that the meanings of all my language is based on the fact that certain basic
objects are given to me in my experience. In the last analysis, these simple
objects are all I can speak of. In this conceptual sense, they are the ultimate
constituents of reality. It is for this reason that they are the values of my
This presupposes that the simple objects are phenomenological, not in
the sense that they are phenomenal, but in the sense that they are given to
me directly and fully.
But Kripke is not assuming a phenomenological ontology. His theory of naming makes use of causal relationships. Such relations are not
directly accessible to my consciousness and hence cannot hold between
phenomenological objects. Hence the kind of transcendental backing of



the assumption of a fixed set of individuals which Wittgenstein relied on

is not available to Kripke.
It seems to us that Wittgenstein was more perceptive than Kripke. When
he gave up the possibility of a purely phenomenological language, he also
gave up ostension as the medium of naming.
But if our individuals are not prefabricated, how does their postfabrication take place? One of the theses of the New Theorists that descriptive
considerations such as could be codified in definite descriptions of the
object language, do not play any role here. Proper names are not only not
hidden definite descriptions, they are mere labels. This question is put into
an interesting light by the primacy of world lines emphasized above.
Is rigid designation, for instance the allegedly rigid operation of proper
names, really independent of their having some descriptive content? It is
a dogma of the New Theory that there is no such descriptive content in
Here we have to distinguish from each other two different questions.
One is how the "world lines" defining the cross-world identities of individuals are drawn, more specifically whether they rely on the attributes of
the worldbound (manifestations) of individuals compared with each other for identity. The other question is whether the identity criteria can be
expressed in language by means of definite descriptions which could then
do the same job as proper names or other alleged rigid designators.
Let us take the second question first. The answer here is twofold. If
the world lines of identification were drawn by purely descriptive criteria,
we could express in language the identity criteria for any one particular
individual descriptively. Let one such description be (~z )B[z], specifying
the individual b. Then the following sentences will be true:

N((t,z)B[,] = b)
= .z.).

However, if the world lines were drawn even partially by means of other
considerations, these sentences would not be true, even if there were a
descriptive element in the conditions of cross-identification.
Moreover, even if (29)-(30) were true for some particular individual b
or even for each individual, in the sense that there should exist a definable
set of attributes B[a:], definite descriptions would not necessarily do the
job here. For what we need is identity conditions between different worlds
which would explain the meaning of quantifiers in modal and epistemic
contexts in general. And if the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers
is rejected, there is no hope of inferring such an account of cross-world



identity conditions in general from name-by-name replacement of rigidly

operating proper names by definite descriptions.
Thus we can see that, the New Theorists' attitude to the possibility of
there being a descriptive element to the cross-world identity conditions is
too rigid. What they apparently have seen is in effect that there cannot
be any object-language account of the identity conditions that quantifiers
rely on. From this they have inferred that there cannot be any descriptive
element to direct reference of the kind presupposed by quantifiers. This
does not follow. Their direct reference, which depends on the principles
of cross-identification, can have a descriptive component and yet fail to
provide a term-by-term elimination of proper names in favor of definite
Indeed, to return to the first question we raised, an analysis of the actual
criteria of cross-identification and reidentification shows that continuity
considerations independent of any descriptive content play a major role
here. (Cf. Hintikka and Hintikka, 1982.) They do not exclude a descriptive component, however. Thus even though the kind of direct reference
required by quantifiers is primitive and unanalyzable, it does not exclude
the possibility of a descriptive element in cross-identification.
As was seen, this is one of the many respects where a tacit reliance on a
substitutional interpretation of quantifiers may very well have misled New
Theorists of Reference.



These conceptual issues have manifestations on a logical level. Even

though the analysed assumption of a store of individuals does not explain
much, it restricts all possible relations of identity between different models
(worlds). We can imagine the manifestations of one and the same individual in different worlds as being connected with notional "world lines".
Using this locution, we can say what the fixed given store of individuals
implies. It implies that world lines never merge or split when we move
from one world to another. In logical terms, this means that all identities
between proper names are necessary.
However, this thesis rests, as we just saw, on extremely implausible
assumptions. If the reliance of quantifiers on rigid designators is rejected,
all reasons disappear to assume that identities between proper names are
Hence the idea of there being necessary identities between singular
terms of some particular kind or other is extremely dubious. Even if there
should be a class of singular terms which, like Kripke's "proper names",



always go together with world lines of cross-identification, there is little

reason to believe that identities between them are always necessary.
What we just said is reflected on the level of explicit logical relationships
between statements. If we merely assume that some set of world lines of
cross-identification is given without assuming anything about their behavior, we have all that is needed as a semantical basis of modal or epistemic
logic. Among other things, it will make sense to write down expressions
like the following:

(31) (3x):(b= x)

( 3 z ) N ( d = z)

They say that "b" and "d" are "rigid designators". But (31) and (32) together
do not logically imply

(33) N(b=d)
as you can easily see. The conclusion (33) follows only if the world lines
are assumed not to branch when we move from a world to its alternatives.
But it was seen that the non-branching assumption rests on an unacceptable
metaphysics of individuals which is in turn inspired by the demonstrably
fallacious "substantial interpretation of quantifiers". Hence the thesis of
necessary identity which we might dub "The New Theory of Identity"
and which is generally considered as an ingredient of the New Theory of
Reference is mistaken. A f o r t i o r i , there is no reason to think that there
are any necessary truths a posteriori. In general, the entire question of the
substitutivity of identity and its possible failure in modal and epistemic
contexts is totally irrelevant to any discussion of rigid reference, unless
unwarranted further assumptions are made.

1 1.



Kripke's real motivation is also seen by examining the other symptoms of

the syndrome called the New Theory of Reference. The most prominent of
these is the claim that there are necessary identities a posteriori. Indeed, it
has been claimed by Kripke that all identities between rigid designators are
necessary. Hence, if proper names are rigid designators, identities between
them are necessary, says Saul Kripke. He takes it for granted that such
identities are known a posteriori.
For instance, Kripke has written: "If names are rigid designators, then
there can be no question about identities being necessary". (Kripke, 1977,



p. 89.) This is none the less a non sequitur. What is needed for the thesis that identities between names (rigid designators) are necessary is an
assumption concerning the principles of cross-identification, viz. the nonbranching assumption. The assumption that names are rigid designators is
not enough.
The point is worth spelling out. The a posteriori character of genuine identities (identities between well-defined individuals) is of course
a familiar phenomenon. Even if you know perfectly well that "Anthony
Eden" and "Lord Avon" are both proper (very proper) names, you may
still fail to know, that they refer to the same proper British gentleman. But
this nonmysterious character of unknown identities between individuals
in ordinary discourse is captured in an equally nonmysterious way by our
epistemic logic. There we simply have a situation that parallels the one
dealt with in (31)-(33). The truth of the following sentences

( 3 x ) K ( e = x)


( 3 z ) K ( a = x)

is compatible with the falsity of


K ( a = e).

The model-theoretical counterpart of this situation is one in which the

reference of the term "a" always travels from one world to another along a
world line, and in which the reference of "e" does the same, but in which
these two world lines can diverge when we move from the actual world
to some of your epistemic alternatives. In the case of epistemic concepts,
this is little more than the codification of the possibility that identities of
individuals may not be known to everybody. If I don't know that Lord Avon
is Anthony Eden, then my knowledge allows for a scenario in which the
two are different players in the drama of British politics. The obviousness
of this model-theoretical treatment of a posteriori identities at the same
time shows the obviousness of their contingent character. Their apparent
necessity is merely due to the nonbranching assumption which is seen to
be redundant. 2
The branching possibility perhaps looks outlandish in the case of human
beings, but in other cases it is not strange at all. If physical objects are
re-identified predominantly by continuity, as is argued in Hintikka and
Hintikka (1982), then a temporal branching is obviously feasible. A fortiori, modal (inter-world) branching is also admissible, for the temporal
branching possibility can be realized in the alternatives to the actual world
but not in the actual world itself.



In Kripke the nonbranching assumption is obviously part and parcel of

the same way of thinking as the substitutional "interpretation" of quantitiers. Both in the case of reference and in the case of quantification Kripke
is thinking that we are given a fixed pool of individuals for our singular
terms to refer to and for our quantifiers to range over. This approach was
seen to neglect the crucial questions of quantifiers interdependence and
independence. It also neglects the transcendental question as to how our
individuals are constituted so as to be identifiable in different possible
worlds. In brief, Kripke's approach rests on an assumption of what can be
called "prefabricated individuals". And this theory is clearly false when
applied to the conceptual practice codified in our ordinary language and
ordinary usage. When the apparatus of epistemic logic is applied to visual
cognition, we have to be able to accommodate the phenomenon of seeing double, which model-theoretically means that there are in my visual
worlds (situations compatible with everything that visually appears to me)
two counterparts to one actual object. And how can Kripke rule out the
possibility of a world in which my mother gave birth to identical twins
instead of my lonely self?. One of the most important considerations in both
re-identification and cross-identification is continuity. (See Hintikka and
Hintikka (1982.) But branching need not violate continuity in any way.
Thus the claim that identities between names are necessary is not even
a consequence of the alleged existence of rigid designators (and of names
being such designators). The claim follows only if it is assumed that the
world lines of cross-identification behave in a certain specific way, viz.
that they never branch when one moves from a possible world to one of
its (modal) alternatives. If this assumption is not made, an identity (t =
b) between two rigid designators can be true in the actual world but false
in an alternative world, i.e. is contingent. For the onty thing that can be
required of a rigid designator is that it picks out the same individual in all
possible worlds. Hence, if our criteria of cross-world identity are such that
world lines can branch, even identities between rigid designators can be
The fact thus is that the necessary character of genuine identity statements is not a consequence of the doctrine of rigid designation but merely
flows from the same source as the rigidity doctrine. This fact can be illustrated in other ways. It is for instance striking that Ruth Marcus advocated
as early as in 1947 logical principles that embody the necessary identity
thesis, such as

(V::')(Vy)(:~. = y --- N ( z

= :y)).

This Marcus did years before she formed the rigid designation idea in



It is also interesting to see that Wittgenstein (1922) not only anticipated

Kripke's idea of rigid designation, but also realized that when this idea is
combined with the substitutional interpretation (which he accepted tacitly
when he sought to reduce the quantification theory to propositional logic),
it leads to the pseudo-problem of necessary identities known a posteriori. Indeed, Kripke's line of thought about identity has precisely the same
source as Wittgenstein's problem about identity in the Tractatus. Wittgenstein, too, treated the name-object relationship as a direct one. For him, all
identities between simple objects are necessary. If it is in fact the case that
(a = b), when a and b are names of simple objects, then this relationship
is necessary.
Indeed, this is precisely the reason for Wittgenstein's unhappiness with
the Russell-Whitehead treatment of identity, for in it a necessary identity might not be shown to be true, let alone necessary, by its syntactic
form, in the way logical necessities ought to be shown by a logical correct
notation according to the Tractatus. These syntactically hidden necessities
would have been the Tractarian counterpart to Kripke's necessary identities a posteriori. But Wittgenstein's philosophical judgement was sounder
than Kripke's. He realized that this problem could be viewed merely as
a consequence of an inadequate choice of one's notation. For the purpose of arguing his case, he proposed a different kind of logical language
which dispenses with the identity sign altogether. The viability of Wittgenstein's suggestion has been shown by Jaal~&o Hintikka (1956, 1973, pp.
14-5) who has pointed out that the difference between traditional quantificational languages with their "inclusive" reading of quantifiers and the
kinds of "exclusive" interpretation of quantifiers which (as far as firstorder languages are concerned) Wittgenstein envisages is merely the same
as probability theorists' distinction between draws from an urn with and
without replacement. In modal and intensional logics, we can in this way
dispense with all statements of identity between well-defined individuals
(values of bindable variables), albeit not identities between a variable and
a free singular term. But even this limited elimination would show that
Kripke's a posteriori necessary identities disappear with a slight change
of notation.
Indeed, Kripke's problem was seen to concern identities between rigid
designators. We have seen that free singutar terms need not, and ought not to
be necessarily rigid. The only truly "rigid designators" are bound variables.
Hence identities between bound variables and free singular terms cannot
be necessary. The only identities that could create necessary a posteriori
identities are identities between two bound variables. But they are precisely
the ones that are eliminated by switching to the exclusive interpretation



of quantifiers. Hence the problem Kripke's theory of necessary identities

a posteriori was supposed to be a response to can be handled by a simple
notational variant of our logic of identity.
It is even possible to imagine "language-games" (institutionalized uses
of language) where names are used independently of any descriptive content but where identities between them are nevertheless contingent. Apparently at some stages of Japanese history proper names were so propertylike that they could be sold and bought, somewhat like trademarks in our
culture. In such a context, the truth of any identity statement (a = b),
where "a" and "b" are proper names, would be time-dependent and hence

One important consequence of the failure of the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers in modal and intensional contexts is the primacy of
the criteria of cross-identification over any explanation of the operation of
quantifiers by means of substitutional instances.
The substitutional interpretation of quantifiers is in a way at odds with
the entire style of logical analysis which was launched by Russell in his
essay "On Denoting" (1905) and subsequently practised by many logicianphilosophers. Its culmination is Quine's slogan "to be is to be the value of
a bound variable". The leading idea is to explain the facts of denotation
and reference by means of quantifiers.
What the substitutional interpretation attempts to do is in a sense the
opposite. The nature of quantification is explained in terms of certain kinds
of reference. We consider this strategy as retrogression. In order to make
sense of quantification in modal and intensional contexts, criteria of crossidentification have to be given (and understood). But nothing else is needed
to understand quantifiers, and nothing else is needed to be in a position to
specify' how other kinds of singular terms behave logically.
The same remarks can be made about the New Theory in general. Even
when quantifiers are not used to explain such things as the de ditto vs. de re
distinction (cf. section 7 above), the explanation turns on good old-fashion
logical tools, such as operator-ordering (scope relations), not armchair theories as to how names are taught and learned. That the strategy underlying
the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers is based is a mistaken one
is also shown by the fact that it has directed philosophical analysts' attention to wrong directions, largely just via its offspring, the New Theory of
Reference. One can see why. If all the different possible worlds are built
out of the same individuals, then the crucial question is to specify these



individuals. The most natural way of doing so presumably is by means of

appropriate individuating characteristics or "essential properties". But this
is not where the real action is. We do not have well-defined individuals
to attribute properties to without criteria of identification. Unfortunately,
philosophers have devoted far too much attention to the wild goose chase
of essential properties and far too little attention to the question of how
cross-identification actually takes place in people's actual linguistic and
conceptual practice.
The general moral of our observations concerns the studies that are
currently conducted under the heading "theory of reference". What is at
the bottom of the problems studied there is more often than not a problem
about cross-identification than a problem of reference in any literal sense
of the word. An example of this general point will be found below at the
end of the next section.



Among other ingredients of this practice, far too little attention has been
paid to the role of continuity in cross-identification, even though several
quite specific things can be said about that role in the case of the identification of physical objects. (See Hintikka and Hintikka 1982.) Even
more surprisingly, the extremely important distinction between perspectival (subject-centered) and public (object-centered) modes of identification
have largely been neglected in recent philosophical discussion.
This last point needs and deserves an explanation. As Hintikka has
shown in a number of articles, the criteria of identification can in fact
be chosen in two different ways, and are in fact so chosen in our actual
semantical practice. (See, for instance, Hintikka 1975a and 1975b.) On the
one hand, there is the ordinary public mode of identification which goes
together with the truth-conditions of identificatory sentences like (4)-(5)
above. Hintikka has called it public system of identification. On the other
hand, there is a mode of identification which relies on the subject's direct
cognitive relations to persons, objects, places, times, events etc. These
relations constitute a frame of reference and cross-identification. In the
simplest case of visual knowledge, i.e., seeing, this frame of reference
is the subject's visual space. An object's place in it can serve to crossidentify it even if the subject does not see (or otherwise know) who or
what the individual in question is. Hintikka has called such an identification
perspectival. Such an identification creates a pair of quantifiers analogous
with but different from ( ~.r ), (Vy), etc. Let us use (E:r), (A:~/), etc. as such
quantifiers. Knowledge expressed in terms of these quantifiers is in effect



the kind of knowledge Russell (1918) called "knowledge by acquaintance",

even though Russell himself would not have described it in the way we
have done. (See Hintikka 1975a.)
These new quantifiers operate in parallel with (3z), (Vy), etc. For
instance, the fact that it is one and the same visual object in all the scenarios
compatible with a's visual knowledge can be expressed by



Here K expresses visual knowledge. What (38) says is clearly that d

occupies a definite slot in a's visual space, i.e., that a sees d.
The contrast, as well as its diagnoses and our notation for it, is easily
extended to other epistemic modalities. A case in point is the distinction between remembering who b is and remembering b. This particular
contrast looms large in cognitive scientists' distinction between semantic
and episodic memory (see Tulving 1983) and the distinction between the
where-system and the what-system. (See Vaina 1990.)
The distinction is illustrated particularly vividly by statements in which
a perspectivally individuated individual is identified with a public one.
Examples are offered by (26)-(28) above. What makes the examples (26)(28) especially striking is that in both of them a contingent (de facto)
identity holds between a directly identified perspectival object ("that man",
'T') and a properly named and hence (according to Kripke) rigidly referredto public object. This throws some light on the sources of the mistaken
belief in necessary and yet a posteriori identities.
But are there some expressions of natural language whose meaningful
use (in a visual context) in the role of"d" in (38) is such that they necessarily
make (38) true? Such expressions would be the analogues to Kripke's
mythical "rigid designators" for perspectival identification. An answer is
fairly obvious. The only plausible candidates are such words as "this",
"that", 'T', and perhaps "you". As it happens, the first three were declared
by Russell (1918, p. 224) to be the only "logically proper names" of
English. And at least in the case of the first two, a speaker can use them
meaningfully only if the hearer perceptually identifies the entity meant. In
this sense, they are in fact rigid designators for the perspectivaI mode of
(visual) identification. Thus Russell is one up on Kripke. He was able to
locate natural language expressions which actually exhibit rigid reference,
whereas Kripke's candidates flunk their test, as we will later see.
This historical comparison shows that in the case of visual knowledge
the kind of reference that goes together with perspectival identification is
what is often referred to as indexical or ostensive reference. It also shows
that there is a kind of mirror image symmet12 between Russell and Kripke



occasioned by their reliance on different modes of cross-identification.

Russell's "logically proper names" are the precise counterpart to Kripke's
"rigid designators", mutatis only the mode of cross-identification the two
philosophers tacitly assume. Hence what the analogy between Russell
and Kripke therefore illustrates once again is that the very idea of rigid
designator is relative to a mode of cross-identification. Such modes of
cross-identification are hence more fundamental than the notion of rigid
As a bonus, we obtain a striking explanation of the similarities and
differences between Russell and Kripke.
The distinction between the two modes of identification might at first
seem to be only an interesting further distinction that is orthogonal to the
issues discussed in the present paper. In reality, even though the point can
only be documented indirectly, the distinction has played a major role in the
confusions that affect the New Theory of Reference. What has happened
is that the New Theorists have realized, however dimly, that there exists
a mode of identification different from the garden-variety public mode of
identification and irreducible to it, viz. the perspectival one. Unfortunately,
they have been preoccupied with reference rather than cross-identification.
This has led them to postulate a special mode of reference which is independent of the usual public linguistic reference instead of acknowledging
it as a different mode of identification.
The relevance of this way of looking at the New Theorists' direct reference is dramatically confirmed by David Kaplan's theory of direct reference. (See Kaplan, 1969, 1989.) Kaplan literally considers direct reference
logically speaking as generalized ostension. What we are suggesting is that
the way of thinking spelled out by Kaplan has been instrumental, however
tacitly, in shaping the New Theorists' views in general.
Once we realize this motivation of one of the main assumptions of the
New Theory, we can also see that it is completely fallacious. The reason is
that the contrast between de dicto and de ~ constructions, the distinction
between the terms that pick out the same individual in each of a given set
of scenarios and terms that do not do so, etc. cut already across the distinction between perspectival and public identification. One way of seeing
this is to note that once a new pair of quantifiers ( E z ) , (A.r) is introduced,
relying on perspectival rather than on public mode of identification, we can
reproduce in terms of such quantifiers all the distinctions that have been
made in this paper, including the distinction between de dicto and de re
constructions. As the comparison between Kripke and Russell illustrates,
these distinctions are all relative to a mode of identification. As a consequence, the contrast between rigid and nonrigid reference can be made also



in the case of perspectival identification. Ironically, the very terms whose

direct referentiality was supposed to be explained as a kind of "extended
postiting", fail to be rigid when it comes to perspectival identification. If I
do not see which of the two boys is Tim and which one is Tom, the proper
names "Tim" and "Tom" will refer to different visual objects of mine in
different possible situations compatible with my visual information, that is,
these names are not rigid in the context of perspectival identification. (This
incidentally shows how fundamentally wrong Kaplan's theory is.)
With a modicum of ingenuity, we might even find singular terms which
operate by means of visual criteria but which are not rigid designators of
visual objects. If I cannot tell visually which object on the table is the
smallest one, the perspectival definite description "the smallest object on
the table" does not refer to any visual object rigidly.
By a similar token, distinctions like the de dicto vs. de re contrast cut
across the public vs. perspectival dichotomy, and hence it is mistaken to
assimilate rigid reference to perspectival reference. Afortiori, perspectival
reference cannot serve as a basis of an account of direct reference. Another
primafacie reason for the mythical direct reference bites the dust.
Speaking generally, much of what is currently discussed under the title
"indexical reference" ought to be reformulated so as to bring out what is
peculiar in such "reference", to wit, reliance on perspectival identification.



One consequence of what has been shown is an explanation why philosophers like Marcus and Kripke have not developed a viable epistemic logic
and at the same time a demonstration of how naturally such a logic can
be developed if one drops the fallacious assumptions underlying the New
Theory. For one thing, we have seen that the most basic rules for quantitiers have to be changed when we move from ordinary first-order logic to
quantified epistemic logic. The requisite change is ii!ustrated by the need
of replacing (11) by (13).
Undoubtedly because they believe that they have available to them rigid
designators which automatically make the extra premises true, the New
Theorists have not acknowledged the need of such changes. In reality,
these changes are needed in any adequate approach to epistemic logic.
And a further examination of the situation reveals further changes which
are needed in the logical laws of quantified epistemic logic and which are
naturally formulated in our framework.



In (1988) Kripke acknowledges himself in effect that the New Theory

does not work in epistemic and doxastic contexts. The puzzles he discusses
there are in fact strictly sell-inflicted. If we look away from mere stage
setting, Kripke's puzzle example concerns a man, call him Pierre, who has
beliefs that he formulates to himself in terms of the French proper name
"Londres" and beliefs that he formulates in terms of the English proper
name "London". The two sets of beliefs are contradictory, which is of
course made possible by the fact that Pierre does not know that Londres is
the same city as London.
In terms of a straightforward doxastic or epistemic logic, there is no
problem about specifying Pierre's situation, including his doxastic state.
Such a specification might include the following:

Londres = London


--aBPierre (Londres = London)


BPierre(Londres is beautiful)


BPierre-,(London is beautiful)

where BPierre is to be understood as Pierre believes that. Here (40) means

merely that there is a state of affairs compatible with everything Pierre
believes in which

Londres London.

There is nothing contradictory or even strange about (39)-(42) being all

true at the same time. All we have to assume is that Pierre does not believe
that (Londres = London). But if "Londres" and "London" refer directly,
without any descriptive content, as Kripke maintains, then they must not
only refer to the same city. The absence of any descriptive content of the
two proper names "London" and "Londres" seems to imply that (41) and
(42) cannot both be true, because then we would be ascribing contradictory
beliefs to Pierre.
But we have seen enough to realize that there is absolutely no problem
here for anyone except Kripke: The reason is that even if "Londres" and
"London" are rigid designators, going each of them together with a welldefined world-line, there are no grounds for maintaining that these two
worlds lines cannot diverge when we move from the actual world to one
of Pierre's doxastic alternatives.
Moreover, this solution to Kripke's home-made puzzle does not depend
on ascribing descriptive content to the two proper names "London" and
"Londres". Two names that in the actual world refer to the same object
could refer to different ones in a possible world in which that object has
split into two exactly similar counterparts.



In fact what the London-Londres example at bottom illustrates is that

the possibility of branching of world lines of individuals (viz. when we
move from a world to one of its alternatives) which may admittedly look
somewhat quaint in epistemic contexts is perfectly natural in doxastic
contexts. In fact, it was only too predictable that Kripke should run into
difficulties with his notion of rigid designation in doxastic contexts. It may
look the world lines associated with two names both of which refer to an
individual cannot branch, and likewise for two names of both of which
someone knows whom they refer to. (Cf. (35)-(37) above.) But there is
no awkwardness about someone's having an opinion as to who a and e
are while mistakenly believing that they are different individuals. Hence
Kripke's puzzle is in reality an acknowledgement that his nonbranching
assumption is not very natural in belief contexts.
It is also instructive to note that Kripke does not rule out the possibility
that we might simply say that Pierre does not really know which city
Londres and/or London is. If so, we could simply say


(Londres = x).

The truth of (44) means model-theoretically that there are scenarios

compatible with everything that Pierre knows in which "Londres" picks
out different individuals. The only reason why the New Theorists might
want to rule this out is the idea that "Londres" is a proper name and as such a
rigid designators which refers to the same individual in all different possible
worlds. But we have seen that the postulation of such rigid designators is
a fallacious myth.
The same thing can be said in general of sentences of the form


(3:~)B~,,(b = z)



( 3 z ) K ~ ( b = z).

Indeed, from the vantage point of rightly understood epistemic and doxastic logic, we can even locate a kernel of truth in Kripke's misformulated
doctrine of allegedly a posteriori necessities. A look at rules of inference
like (13) shows the important role of extra premisses like (46). What such
a premise expresses is a posteriori knowledge. Yet, if b is a proper name,
there is a kind of flavor of necessity to it. For the proper name b can scarcely fail to refer to the individual it in fact refers to. (This is precisely what
Kripke has insisted on in arguing that proper names cannot be construed
as hidden definite descriptions.) But however necessary the relation of a



proper name to its object is, there is nothing impossible in a person's failing to know it. Hence (46) may in a sense be a posteriori, but it does not
express any substantial necessity. Kripke is able to find candidates for the
role of a posteriori necessities only by making the restrictive assumptions
about world lines that were criticized above.
Furthermore, it would be in fact more accurate to say that in (46) we
are dealing with a priori knowledge rather than a posteriori. For even
though the knowledge expressed by (46) has to be acquired, it is conceptual knowledge, knowledge of what our names mean. In this respect too,
Kripke's use of identities as the focal point of his analyses has led him
astray, instead of the conditions of identification like (46).
Kripke acknowledges that epistemic and doxastic contexts present a
problem for the New Theory of Reference. For one thing, as we have seen,
substitutivity of identity fails in such contexts, even for proper names.
Accordingly, Kripke speculates that something more than direct reference
might be involved in such contexts, something like the mode in which
the reference is picked out in different worlds. This is the closest he
comes to acknowledging the primacy or even the role of cross-world
Generally speaking, the attitude of the New Theorists of Reference to
epistemic logic has in fact been most puzzling. Even though the existence
of epistemic logic constitutes a clear cut counter-example to their central
ideas, the New Theorists have refused to discuss the logic of epistemic
notions. This is a telling instance of the alienation of the New Theorists
from the real problems in intensional logic. In a wider perspective, their
neglect of epistemic logic is potentially damaging to the entire profession,
for it is epistemic logic that is most important for real life applications
among all modal and intensional logics. It has turned out to be, not unexpectedly, an important tool not only in AI but in distributed database theory
too. It has accordingly been cultivated in recent years largely by computer
scientists rather than philosophers. (See e.g. Fagin et al., 1995.) This has
led to a wealth of unused opportunities and also to a great deal conceptual
confusion. The New Theorists' myopia has in this direction had serious
detrimental effect on the course of research.
The neglect of epistemic logic can be taken to have the same root as
the fallacy of the substitutional interpretation of quantifiers. This fallacy
was seen to lie in disregarding the interplay of different quantifiers, prominently including their relation of dependence and independence. Likewise,
relations of dependence and independence are at the bottom of the logic
of knowledge. As Jaakko Hintikka has emphasized, the entire epistemic
logic is nothing more and nothing less than the logic of existential quanti-



tiers and disjunctions that are independent of a sentence-initial knows that

operator K. Indeed, the symbol combinations ( 3 z / K ) and (V/t() can
be considered the logical counterparts to the question element of natural
languages. And it was seen that the gist of the fallacy of the substitutional
interpretation lies precisely in neglect of dependence and independence
relations of the sort indicated by the slash symbol.


These adverse effects of the New Theory of Reference have been aggravated by the fact that in its usual form, the so-called Kripke semantics is
not the correct semantics for logical modalities either. As has been pointed out repeatedly (see Hintikka, 1980, 1982, Cocchiarella, 1975a, 1975b,
1986, cf. Kanger, 1957), Kripke semantics, unlike e.g. the variant possibleworlds treatment by Kanger, is analogous to the nonstandard interpretations
of higher-order logics, which is not equivalent with the intended standard
interpretation of these logics. In other words, the so-called Kripke's semantics does not provide us with the right model theory of logical (conceptual)
necessities in any case.
Hence the New Theorists either have to change the logic they are
basing their discussion on or else admit that they are not dealing with
purely logical (alethic) modalities, but with some kind of metaphysical
necessity and possibility. But such metaphysical modalities, unless they are
assimilated to natural (nomic) necessity and possibility, have a deservedly
murky reputation in serious philosophy. It is instructive that Kripke has
repeatedly resorted to "intuitions" about what can or cannot be the case
which cannot be tested in any way and which are delivered without any
respectable argumentation. It may, ~br instance, be the case that the origin
of an entity plays a special role in determining its identity, as Kripke has
claimed, following John Locke. But such claims have to be based on a
general semantical theory, not marshalled as the pronouncements of an
intuitional oracle.
The New Theory of Reference has a more than one fatal flaw. It is in the
last analysis an attempt to explain a nonexistent phenomenon. The more
quickly it is put out of its misery~ the better for everybody.

The fact that Wittgenstein is also dealing with higher-order (higher-type) entities does not
matter here. For Wittgenstein assumes in the Tractatusa nonstandard interpretation of his
higher-order language, which means that it can be dealt with as if it were a many-sorted
first-order language.



2 If you do not find this example convincing, try the same idea with belief instead of
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Department of Philosophy
Boston University
Boston, MA 02215
Department of Philosophy
University of Helsinki
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