Russellian description and Smith's suicide

Acta Analytica 18 (1-2):125-141 (2003)
Abstract
When discussing the distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions, Keith Donnellan also mentions cases such as ‘Smith’s murderer is insane’, uttered in a scenario in which Smith committed suicide. In this essay, I defend a two-fold thesis: (i) the alleged intuition that utterances of ‘Smith’s murderer is insane’ are true in the scenario in question is independent from the phenomenon of referential uses of definite description, and, most importantly, (ii) even if such intuition is granted semantic relevance, the evidence it presents is compatible with a Russellian treatment of definite descriptions. I thus present a Russellian analysis of ‘Smith’s murderer is insane’ which, when coupled with certain independently plausible hypotheses, explains the presumed intuition that certain utterances of this sentence are indeed true, at least as long as the intended individual is insane
Keywords Donnellan  Russell  Kripke  descriptions  referential-attributive
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