Reference and inference: The case of anaphora

In Klaus von Heusinger & Urs Egli (eds.), Reference and Anaphoric Relations. Kluwer 269--286 (2000)
In part one, I give an (unsystematic) overview of the development of logical tools which have been employed in the course of the analysis of referring expressions, i.e. definite and (specific) indefinite singular terms, of natural language. I present Russell's celebrated theory of definite descriptions which I see as an attempt to explain definite reference in terms of unique existence (and reference in general in terms of existence simpliciter); and I present Hilbert's E-calculus as an attempt to explain existence in terms of choice. Then I turn to contemporary, dynamic approaches to the analysis of singular terms and point out that only within a dynamic framework can the Russellian and Hilbertian ideas yield a truly satisfactory analysis of singular terms, and consequently of reference and coreference. I call attention to the fact that current results of formal semantics demonstrate the advantages of viewing singular terms as denoting updates, i.e. as a means of changing the context (information state), and especially that part of the context which I call the individually
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