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Analytic philosophy

In linguistic terms the referent of “the teacher of Alexander the Great” is different in different possible worlds, and the sentence “Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great” is therefore true in some possible worlds and false in others (i.e., it is a contingent truth). But whereas someone other than Aristotle could have been the teacher of Alexander the Great, no one other than Aristotle could have been Aristotle. In linguistic terms, once the referent of Aristotle is fixed in the actual world (i.e., once Aristotle is applied to Aristotle), the name Aristotle must refer to Aristotle in every possible world in which it refers at all, and the sentence “Aristotle is Aristotle” is therefore true in every possible world (i.e., it is a necessary truth). But if the referent of Aristotle is the same in every possible world, then it cannot be determined by means of a description such as “the teacher of Alexander the Great,” because the referents of such descriptions, as we have seen, are different in different possible worlds. Therefore, Aristotle and all other proper names refer directly to their bearers. Kripke was anticipated in this theory by the philosopher Ruth Barcan Marcus and joined by a large number of other thinkers, including Hilary Putnam, David Kaplan, Joseph Almog, and Howard Wettstein.