Nathan Salmon bigraphy, stories - American philosopher

Nathan Salmon : biography

January 2, 1951 -

Nathan U. Salmon (né Nathan Ucuzoglu Salmon in 1951) is an American writer and philosopher in the Analytic tradition, specializing in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of logic.


Salmon was born January 2, 1951 in Los Angeles to a working-class family of Sephardi Jews of Spanish-Turkish heritage. He is the grandson of archivist Emily Sene (née Emily Perez) and oud player Isaac Sene.

The first person in his family to go to college, Salmon attended El Camino College and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA he studied with Tyler Burge, Alonzo Church, Keith Donnellan, Donald Kalish, David Kaplan, Saul Kripke, and Yiannis Moschovakis. Salmon earned his Ph.D. in 1979 while he was assistant professor of philosophy at Princeton University. In 1984 the awarded him the , on the basis of his book, Reference and Essence (1981), which was based on his UCLA doctoral dissertation. His second book, Frege's Puzzle (1986), was selected by Scott Soames for a literary website as one of the best five books on the philosophy of language.Scott Soames, "Best Five Books on the Philosophy of Language," The Browser, October 15, 2010. The other selections are monographs by Noam Chomsky, Gottlob Frege, David Kaplan, and Saul Kripke.

Salmon is currently distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has taught since 1984. He has also taught at UCLA, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Southern California, and was a regular visiting distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center from 2009 to 2012.


===Millianism=== Salmon is a proponent of the theory of direct reference. Salmon has provided accounts both of propositional attitudes and of Frege's puzzle about true identifications, i.e., truths of the form "a = b".In his books, Frege's Puzzle and Content, Cognition, and Communication. Salmon maintains that co-designative proper names are inter-substitutable with preservation of semantic content. Thus, on his view the sentence "Samuel Clemens was witty" expresses exactly the same content as "Mark Twain was witty", whether or not the competent user of these sentences recognizes it. Therefore a person who believes that Mark Twain was witty ipso facto believes that Samuel Clemens was witty, even if he or she also believes, inconsistently, that Clemens was not witty. Salmon argues that this is made palatable by recognizing that to believe a proposition is to be cognitively disposed in a particular manner toward that proposition when taking it by means of some proposition-guise or other, and that one may be so disposed relative to one proposition-guise while not being so disposed relative to another. Salmon applies this apparatus to solve a variety of famous philosophical puzzles, including Frege's puzzle, Kripke's puzzle about so-called de dicto belief, and W. V. O. Quine's puzzle about de re belief. For example, Quine describes a scenario in which Ralph believes that Ortcutt is no spy, yet Ralph also believes that the man in the brown hat is a spy, when unbeknownst to Ralph the man in the hat is none other than Ortcutt. Under these circumstances, is Ortcutt believed by Ralph to be a spy? The grounds for an affirmative or negative judgment seem equally balanced. On Salmon's account Ortcutt is believed by Ralph to be a spy, since Ralph is appropriately cognitively disposed toward the proposition about Ortcutt that he is a spy when taking that proposition by means of one proposition-guise, even though Ralph is not so disposed relative to an alternative, equally relevant proposition-guise.


Salmon provided direct-reference accounts of problems of nonexistence and of names from fiction.See, e.g., Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning, Oxford University Press, 2005. Salmon argues, directly contrary to Immanuel Kant, book II c.3 sec. 5, . that existence is a property, one that particular individuals have and other individuals lack. According to Salmon, the English verb "exist" is (along with its literal tranlsations into other languages), among other things, a term for this alleged property, and a sentence of the form "a exists" is true if and only if the subject term designates something with the property, and is false (and "a does not exist" is true) if and only if the subject term designates something with the complementary property of nonexistence. Thus Russell's example, "The present king of France exists", is neither true nor false, since France is not presently a monarchy, and therefore "the present king of France" does not designate; whereas "Napoleon exists" is simply false, since although Napoleon once existed, the moment he died he took on the property of nonexistence.

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