Co-extensive theories and unembedded definite descriptions

Abstract
Russell argued, famously, that definite descriptions are not logical constituents of the sentences in which they appear. In neither of the following should we suppose that the definite description picks anything out: The King of France is bald The Prince of Wales is bald Since France is a republic, nothing could be picked out by the first; and if the semantic structures of each are the same, it cannot be the function of the second to pick anything out either. On the alternative semantics developed in his 1905 article 'On Denoting', definite descriptions do not have meaning in isolation; they have meaning only in the context of a whole sentence. Andrew Botterell and Robert Stainton have pointed out that this conclusion appears to be at odds with the phenomenon of unembedded definite descriptions, in which definite descriptions are uttered, meaningfully, without accompanying predicates. For example, it is possible to utter 'The last temptation' on its own and in doing so express a proposition (that a salient profiterole ought to be resisted, perhaps). Since definite descriptions can be used in this way, how can it be right to claim, with Russell, that they lack meaning in isolation? The present paper seeks to show how a Russellian semantics for definite descriptions (on a certain understanding of what is required for a semantics to be Russellian) is entirely compatible with the phenomenon of unembedded definite descriptions. In particular, Botterell and Stainton are wrong to think that generalized quantifier semantics is better able to cope with the phenomenon than a more authentically Russellian syncategorematic semantics.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,768
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2010-07-25

Total downloads

8 ( #168,674 of 1,099,017 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #287,293 of 1,099,017 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.