Conceding Intelligence

In footnote 76 of Naming and Necessity Kripke uses a phrase that has stuck in my mind for decades–I think of it almost every day. He is discussing the identity theory and considers the objection that his use of “correlated with” presupposes the anti-materialist position he set out to prove. He says: “Although I was surprised to hear an objection that concedes so little intelligence to the argument, I have tried especially to avoid the term ‘correlated’ which seems to give rise to the objection.” You can imagine Saul thinking to himself: “Does this guy really think I am that stupid?” But there is a certain type of philosopher, distressingly common, who likes to play Gotcha and try to catch apparently smart people out in elementary blunders. They CONCEDE NO INTELLIGENCE to the person they are objecting to. So many times I have said to myself: “You really need to concede more intelligence to people who are obviously intelligent”. The irony, of course, is that those who concede no intelligence are the ones who conspicuously lack it.

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