David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 20 (1):7-13 (2006)
In this essay I argue that given Donnellan’s formulation of the attributive uses of definite descriptions, as well as Kripke’s  and Salmon’s  generalized accounts, most uses of definite descriptions that are taken to be attributive turn out not to be so. In building up to my main thesis, I first consider certain problematic cases of uses of definite descriptions that do not neatly fit into any category. I then argue that, in general, a complete definite description we use is complex, in which there is an embedded singular term that is used referentially. From this I conclude that an attributive use of a definite description is an extremely rare linguistic phenomenon, much less frequent than what Donnellan, Kripke, and Salmon have presupposed; so much so that the standard examples given by Donnellan of the attributive use of definite descriptions do not qualify as attributive
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