Scott Soames (/soʊms/; born August 11, 1946) is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. He specializes in the philosophy of language and the history of analytic philosophy. He is well known for defending and expanding on the program in the philosophy of language started by Saul Kripke as well as being a major critic of two-dimensionalist theories of meaning.
|Alma mater||Stanford University (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
|Philosophy of language|
Scott Soames was born in 1946. He did his undergraduate work in philosophy at Stanford University and his graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in linguistics and philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from MIT in 1976.
Soames taught briefly at Yale University (from 1976–1980) and, then, from 1980 to 2004 at Princeton University. His departure from Princeton in 2004 was seen as a major loss at the philosophy department there. Gilbert Harman, one of Soames's colleagues, was quoted at the time saying that "He's one of the most distinguished people we've got." Since 2004, he has been a professor at the University of Southern California, Department of Philosophy. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Soames specializes in the philosophy of language and the history of analytic philosophy. He has published books and articles primarily on issues concerning truth, reference, and meaning. Fairly early in his career, he and Nathan Salmon edited a book entitled Propositions and Attitudes (1989), a collection of readings that investigates philosophical issues surrounding the nature of propositions. Later in his career, Soames has been known for expanding on the anti-descriptivist philosophy of language developed by Saul Kripke in Naming and Necessity (1972/1980)—see Soames's Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of 'Naming and Necessity' (2002). He is also a major critic of two-dimensionalist theories of semantics—see his Reference and Description: The Case against Two-Dimensionalism (2005).
Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century (2003), his two-volume history of analytic philosophy developed from a lecture course regularly given at Princeton, has been the subject of significant controversy among historians of analytic philosophy, with exchanges, often heated, on the Notre Dame Philosophical Review, Brian Weatherson's blog, the journal The Philosophical Quarterly, and Soames's own web page.
The following are partial lists of publications by Scott Soames: