Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rob Rupert

Second Advisor

Graham Oddie

Third Advisor

David Barnett


In his 1975 article “Contingent Identity,” Allan Gibbard purportedly shows that not all identity statements containing proper names are necessarily true. The thrust of his argument comes from a clever statue-and-lump case. Specifically, Gibbard claims that two proper names that refer to identical objects could have referred to distinct objects. In my thesis I argue that the postulation of contingent identity immediately presents one with a contradiction—specifically, one where identity statements containing proper names are both necessarily true (i.e. true in all possible worlds) and yet also fail to be true in some possible world W. Furthermore, I argue that the proponent of contingent identity conflates an object with the properties used to fix the reference of a designator of the object. Ultimately, I show that upholding a Kripkean notion of naming and reference allows one to uphold the necessity of identity in light of Gibbard’s statue-and-lump case.

Included in

Metaphysics Commons